Marielena thought she'd arrived early enough at the cigar factory to prevent such a thing, but again she found Niño sitting on the stool from which she read to the rollers—his legs open wide, feet flat on the floor, trying to take up her space. Several magazines sat on the rolling bench in front of him. Marielena recognized the covers and frowned. Bohemia, a favorite of the island's masses, was not her idea of literature, but she had expected this kind of revolt ever since her first day as the lector at La Fábrica de Tabacos Francisco Donatién. Niño slid off her stool and stood in front of the other cigar rollers, each of them seated in rows at their dark wooden benches, their chests hidden by the shelves that housed their supplies. Niño gestured to the magazines with a sweep of his arm, bowing low in the old traditional way he was used to, as if introducing her to some important political officials.
—Niño, she said. She'd started as the factory's reader a week ago, but Marielena still didn't know his real name, only that the other workers called him Niño because decades ago, he had been brought in to work there by his father, who'd trained Niño as his own replacement. She thought it was a terrible nickname; she guessed he was at least twice her age.
—Señorita, he said, I bring you these. He bowed, his arm still extended.
A few of the rollers in the front rows clapped their hands at Niño's presentation of the magazines. Marielena knew that he was smiling at her, the wrinkles around his mouth coming out more than she wished they did, so she kept her eyes on the floor. She could tell by the bits of waxy brown leaves pressed into the rough tile that the room had not been swept the day before.
From the pile of magazines, she knew that the workers did not think she was doing a good job as their reader. She had an audience of almost two hundred—mostly men, but also a few gray-haired women—and many of them had already offered suggestions regarding what she should bring in, as well as what she shouldn't bring back.
On her first day, she had tried José Martí.
—Mija, por favor, someone said when she started reading. Other people laughed and someone coughed. A few of the younger men—those in their thirties and forties—rolled their eyes. Niño smiled and said, We're not in school anymore.
He followed that with a wink, the wrinkles around his eyes strangely unmoving like the veins on a dry leaf. His lip curled up to show his straight, storm cloud-colored teeth. She felt so embarrassed she almost let the book slip off her lap, and she scrambled to grab it before it fell. He looked back down, still smiling, and she shifted on the stool, pulling on her skirt for no reason. She pretended to look at the book to find the page she'd been reading from, but she was really looking at his workbench, at his browned hands pulling tight on leaves. He seemed younger than he was a moment ago, and she felt dizzy sitting on the tall stool at the front of the room.
The workers spent a lot of her first day as the lector interrupting her to recite different Martí poems—the easy ones they'd been forced to memorize for school plays decades earlier. So many of them knew "La Rosa Blanca" that they recited it in chorus, each worker joining in when the poem floated up from their memories. They pointed to the person next to them, wagged their fingers up and down with the rhythm of the poem's lines, closed their eyes and smiled as they read the words off some far away page. She forced herself to laugh along with them as they recited. The long white room, with its maze of cigar benches, looked like an overgrown, smoky classroom. The laughter seemed to point at her, at her poor choice in reading material. The workers passed that long shift arguing about the edition she read from and joking about how she was too young to know what Martí really meant when he wrote about a white rose. The older women shushed the others before their own rose descriptions got too graphic, but the men defended themselves by saying, Just a little joke, mujer. She's a big girl.
At the end of that day, Niño placed the cigars he'd rolled in the wide, shallow cedar box near the center of his bench.
—Today was good, no? He grinned, his hands sliding over the smooth tubes of tobacco. She just shrugged, nodded slightly, and pressed the book to her chest with both arms. He raised his eyebrows and gestured at the book with his chin.
—Maybe tomorrow, something a little different, he said.
Earlier in the day, Niño placed his hand on her lower back and her head jolted up from the magazines to turn and look behind her. His hand drifted away from where it had just been, like he couldn't abandon her body just yet. The hand hovered there, and without looking at him, she knew her face was only inches from his. She worried he'd notice her fast breathing and take this as some sort of encouragement.
He motioned with the lingering hand for her to sit on her stool. From up there, she could see all the way to the back of the factory, though she could only watch the cigars being rolled in the first row, where Niño sat. During her breaks from reading, she would stay on the stool and sip water, pretending not to watch him pull the leaves from the damp stack to his left. He'd smooth each one out slowly, using only his middle and ring fingers, so that the leaf waited for him flat on the table. Then he would wedge his knife's wide blade into it, rocking the curve of the metal into the thin flesh of the plant. Underneath his steady hand, each piece came to have the tapered shape of a cigar. She always wondered how he was able to pull each leaf taut enough to roll the cigar tightly, never ripping a single one.
Before taking his own seat, Niño slid the topmost magazine onto her lap and slapped it twice, softly, with a flat hand. When he did this, she felt the weight of the pages press against her thighs.
So she read the magazines during the morning, and in the afternoon, at the older men's requests, both newspapers, La Granma Internacionál and La Granma Diário. ¡Noticias! they cheered when Niño suggested it—like the news was the guest of honor at a party and had just arrived. He stood up and bowed then, too, first toward the rest of the room, then to her. He sat back down when she picked up the paper from the bench, then he waved victoriously to those behind him.
He tried to walk her home at the end of the day. Of course she refused; she was shocked he even attempted this after the magazines, after noticias. Only then, with her angry No, did Niño understand that his suggestion was not appreciated. She thought he deserved such treatment after an entirely wasted day reading about the speculated scandals of the Spanish monarchy, and about how bodies, bloated and shark-bitten, floated inland off the north coast—a day not full of literature but of written garbage and Niño's waves.
He grabbed her shoulder as she turned away from him and said, We like you.
—You like Bohemia, she said. She hid the book she'd brought but hadn't read, Love in the Time of Cholera, under her arm, hoping he wouldn't notice it.
—Today went fast. You don't think? he said.
Marielena made fists at her sides. She said, I don't need to think, do I?
Niño smiled and looked down. Only when they stood this close together could she see the little beads of lice clinging in clumps to the roots of his thinning hair. She almost explained to him that he shouldn't smile, that she was being mean to him, on purpose, that she was mad about the magazines, and that he was supposed to roll cigars, and she was supposed to read while he rolled them. He was not supposed to be standing so close that she could see lice and wrinkles; close enough to see everything wrong with him.
—O.K., he said finally, almost laughing. O.K. But let me walk with you at least.
Most of the other rollers had left already, except for some very old men still on their way out and hunched over from their day at the bench. When they said goodbye, Niño pushed his shoulders back so that he stood painfully straight and said, Until tomorrow, you old horses. Until tomorrow, boy, they laughed back.
Niño held out his arm for her, hooking it and cocking his head toward her. He laughed a little and said, Come, I'll even carry your magazines for you.
She turned on her heel, terrified she might cry from anger, and that he would mistake it for a different kind of sensitivity. She pushed past the old men still filing out through the heavy wooden doors that led to the street.
—I will try again tomorrow, he yelled after her, but she didn't look back. On the walk home, she worried about whether he'd meant bringing more magazines or asking her again about walking home.
After work, she went to the library to find the right book. She greeted the librarian, tall behind his bench, with a nod. He looked sleepy behind the stacks of books, all folded into each other, open to the cards glued on the insides of the back covers.
At La Universidad de La Habana, she'd studied to be a librarian, but the lector position was the best the school's job placement counselor could offer her upon graduation. Taking the job meant leaving the capital's paved streets for Pinar del Río, a much smaller municipality about a hundred miles southwest.
—There is no work in libraries available at this time, he'd said, as she handed him her transcripts and the other necessary forms required of those hoping to work in the university library system. She remembered his glasses sliding down his nose, his face twitching frantically to push them back up, his nostrils determined to do that work without bothering his hands for help. He was old, and ugly, with too many hairs between his eyebrows, the bridge of his glasses resting in that patch. A dead gray shadowed the skin where a beard could be, and her smile went unreturned when she first sat down in front of his old desk. His ugliness had made her sure from the moment she sat that he was going to say, There is no work, no matter what forms she showed him.
—We have this, he'd said.
He placed her papers in the desk's lower drawer—she never got them back—and he slid the notice of the lector position in the cigar factory to her side of the worn desk, pushing it with two stiff, widely spread fingers, not looking at the form at all, and not really at her either. She had hoped this wouldn't be the case, but had been warned it could be. She tried not to cry or ask questions that would make her sound angry.
—This is with books, he'd said. She'd nodded.
The cigar factory in Pinar del Río could hire her right away—the counselor called and confirmed this in front of her—and it paid the equivalent of twenty-two U.S. dollars a month. That would be enough to send some to her mother—she could not see dragging Mamá away from La Habana, so the money would have to be wired—and she would not have to use any of it to buy the books to read from, as these were promised as part of her job, though she only received access to the literature, not ownership of it.
She walked past the shelf that held books on reserve for her. These she had selected the week after she'd moved to Pinar del Río, before her first day. She'd found the library disappointing—there were nowhere near as many books as there had been in the university's collection in the capital. She wrote about this in a letter to her mother, but had not heard back from her yet. She regretted, now, putting the complaint on paper.
Marielena knew she did not have much time to search for something new. Her last rooster, which she kept hidden in the room she rented, was used to her being home before the sun was completely down. She worried that varying the rooster's routine would make him noisy enough to be noticed. She'd heard the smaller towns in Cuba worked like this, everyone always watching everyone else, always listening. And she hadn't yet figured out who on their block was on the Comité—it seemed there was no way to know here.
In La Habana, the people who worked for the Comité de la Defensa de la Revolución were proud; they would come into Mamá's home, sometimes even weekly, and take inventory while Marielena made them café, if they had the water and the coffee. The neighborhood official looked into the kitchen cabinets, made sure they had the right amount of food legal for two women—one over fifty—and no more than that. During the day they hid their roosters and chickens under wooden crates at the bottom of a bedroom closet, the doors lined inside with thick sheets to keep in feathers and the scratching sounds of claws on tile. The neighbor in the Comité would gossip with Mamá about the fantastic things they'd found in other houses—an entire side of beef, a gallon of whole milk, a copy of the Miami Herald—and Mamá would say, ¡Ay, Dios mío! Where could they have gotten that? Incredible what people try! And the Comité member would tell Mamá, Trust me, they are paying for it now, and then drink the café. Mamá would laugh—she was so good, sometimes even Marielena couldn't tell if she was faking it or if she actually found the stupidity of her neighbors hilarious.
Together, her mother and the Comité member would marvel at how the younger generations seemed to be lacking fierceness in their loyalty. They'd discuss the first, most exciting years of the Revolution. Mamá would distract them with stories of Marielena's work at the university, and they'd comment on what a fine daughter she'd raised, how a daughter like that was a real thing of value, something that deserved more attention from the community than contraband milk or beef. They'd have such a good conversation that the Comité member would leave with just a glance in the direction of the closet, clearing their throats as they passed it, and then talking and laughing throughout the rest of the inspection. Looking underneath the bed that the mother and daughter slept in, the Comité member would say, People just don't think. You know where I found that Miami Herald? By a toilet!
But Pinar del Río, as far as Marielena could tell, treated the Comité like a secret. She wondered if her block even had one; some mornings it sounded like every home for miles hid a rooster. In her short time in the community, she'd noticed that it seemed O.K. to hide things—something about the effort made it excusable. But she didn't know this place well enough, and a misplaced evening crow worried her more than her book choice. She left quickly, leading with her chin as she walked through the tomb of books, purposely not wishing the librarian good night. She left the library with nothing.
When the rooster's crows woke her the next morning, she immediately regretted not picking out the book the night before. She sat up, rubbed her eyes, and watched the bird dash under the bed, back toward the cardboard box that held some of the literature. Her own library was sparse—she laughed at even using the word library in her head—filled with the few books that had made it through the package inspections. They'd been sent by cousins in the U.S., family that had fled after the Revolution. She hardly remembered them, she was maybe three when her uncles had left—her own mother, and so she too, deliberately staying—and their long letters listed books that should have been there but weren't. She couldn't really be disappointed; she had never heard of those authors anyway, though their names sounded like neighbors she could have had. The classics always made it through all right. But the books she'd studied and loved in school during her librarian's training were not the kind the cigar rollers wanted to hear her read; she'd already read the workers some of what she owned, and what she hadn't read them she knew they wouldn't like.
After the failure of Martí, she'd tried Neruda, and she thought it had gone well until the end of that day, when a leaf smashed into a lumpy ball bounced off her chest and landed between the book's open pages. She'd heard a muffled snort from the middle of the room when she paused her reading. They hadn't enjoyed poetry as much as she thought they should, but Niño had looked up from his work the moment she'd stopped reading.
One leg dropped heavy from the thin mattress, her foot smacking the floor and sticking to the muddy tile. She pushed her hair off her forehead.
—Ay Dios mío, she said, and the other leg followed. She leaned back on her arms, her palms flat against the mattress, and yawned. It was already hot though the sun was barely up. The room glowed a dark smoky purple. The rooster pecked at the floor where the tile almost met the wall at the corner farthest from her bed. The rooster still had most of his light brown feathers despite his poor diet. Each violent prod of his beak into the corner's dirt sent tremors through his bent tail feathers, so that she thought he might shake one loose with every stab. She felt a queasiness that she blamed on hunger, though she knew it was more likely her nerves; she had never gone to sleep without having the book picked out, waiting for her on the chair, on top of her clothes for the next day.
She sat on her bed thinking of the top of Niño's head when he'd bowed to her the day before, and this thought finally forced her to stand. I will find something, she thought, I can't—reading Bohemia—I won't.
Her bare thighs pressed on the tile as she squatted to sit cross-legged on the floor. She pulled the torn cardboard box out from underneath the wire frame of the bed. She lifted the folded blanket that covered what was inside, doubled it again, and slid it under her to pad her bones. Before looking through the books in the box, she yawned again and scratched her head. Her fingernails came back with oily black flakes underneath them. She ran each nail between her bottom and top teeth, scooping the grit out to clean them, and spitting it off the tip of her tongue. She listened to the rooster—still scratching at the corner—while tasting dirt and ash. The granules made her teeth feel rough.
The mornings in Pinar del Río were filled with a quiet Marielena found frightening. In La Habana, noise started early: buses, people laughing while sitting on their steps, even the distant ruckus of the ocean. Something about knowing that thousands of people had already woken up around her made it possible for her to do it herself. But she hadn't adjusted to the silent starts of Pinar del Río; cries from roosters shut up in houses began the day here, and not bus engines on the sleepless boulevard below her old window. There were no streetlights creeping away with the sunrise like there had been in her small apartment in La Habana. The first night in the room she rented in Pinar del Río, swamped by a quiet so profound that her ears rang, she marveled at how her hands disappeared in front of her face in the bedtime darkness.
Her stomach growled, and she decided to eat before looking through the books. There was some meat left in the small refrigerator from the other rooster, the one she had killed almost a week ago. That rooster's feathers had been falling out anyway, and Mamá had insisted when she decided to take them with her that the things were for eating—that she eat them before they got sick or killed each other. Marielena had grabbed that rooster by his head and spun his body in a tight circle. She had felt his neck crack in her hand, a series of pops registering in her palm, but she'd heard nothing. She had plucked the few feathers that still hung off his body, boiled him, and pulled the thin strips of soggy meat from the bones.
The last bit of this sat in a bowl in the refrigerator, covered with a wet towel. She held the bowl now, pressing the towel to her mouth to check if it was still damp, then she dropped it on top of the small fridge as she stood and walked back to the cardboard box. The rooster ran from the doorway—he seemed to have been watching her—across the room to his corner. He spread his wings far out from his body, like a woman holding out elaborate skirts to keep from stepping on them. She wondered whether, when she killed him, the sounds from the neighbor's roosters would be enough to wake her.
She picked at the gray rubbery meat and sat on the bed again, looking down at the books. The magazines Niño had brought to work had been too much; she needed something good. She wouldn't give him the chance to embarrass her again. She worked the food over in her mouth, moving the mush around until it formed a little ball. The sun was brighter now and she could read the spines of the books from her place on the bed. Their covers were worn, all of them paperbacks. The letters in the packages from her cousins had explained that hardcover versions, with their extra weight, cost too much to send from Miami. Most of the books she'd received in school—the few she'd been allowed to keep—were hardcover. She always felt lucky to have these. Most were gifts given in secret from her university instructors, proof she'd been an excellent student. She kept them out of the box, displayed on the little shelf above her bed next to a framed picture of Mamá (thin and young and alone, in her wedding dress), a stiff cardboard picture of La Caridad del Cobre, patron saint of Cuba, and another picture—very faded—of Baby Jesus.
There were other things in the box whose value gave her reason to keep them under the bed and covered. There was a bar of soap, which she had been saving for some time. The box read "Zest," a word she didn't know and had never said out loud. She could smell the perfume of the bar through the box, had held it to her nose for a long time the day she got the package, breathed it in for so long that she worried she'd spend it all somehow. She knew that the family in the U.S. must have sent at least ten other bars like it in order for that one to be left by the government's inspectors. She had wrapped it in a clean T-shirt, thinking that would help it stay fresh. She hoped to use it someday when she knew a man would be so physically close to her that smelling like perfume and clean would really matter, would even be necessary to keep from being embarrassed.
There were some Kotex pads, and these she stored underneath everything else in the hidden box because they were valuable, and also because they could humiliate her. Each month during her period, she would try to make each pad last overnight, but usually couldn't do this on the first or second days because these were her heaviest. She'd make up for the necessary waste of using more than one by trying to go without it the end of those weeks; the brown spots staining her underwear were worth making the pads last.
There were other things, too: a manila envelope that held all the letters from the packages, an unopened bag of women's razors; a picture of one of the uncles who had left in a military uniform; a plastic bag filled with cotton balls—she was saving these because the pads would eventually run out; a bottle of rubbing alcohol; three rolls of toilet paper; a shoebox full of unopened packages of different sized batteries.
She reached down into the bowl with two fingers. It was empty, so she reasoned that she was a little less hungry.
She could not put Niño's stack of magazines out of her mind even as she scanned the titles of the books on the shelf. One near the middle caught her attention. Propped up against the framed wedding picture stood The Motorcycle Diaries: A Latin American Journey, the first of Che Guevara's books that she'd read while still in high school. It had been years since she'd opened it, but she remembered the fights, the parties, the serious drinking; things that had made her and her classmates read on, stories that had filled their talk at lunch time. Yes, she thought, it was the kind of thing that would keep the workers interested, but even if it didn't, they'd think hard before complaining because it was Che's book. They'd understand, the respect for him had run deep for generations. And no one would ask for anything else, fearing that such a request would be taken as a serious statement.
She leaned across the bed, the sheet a crumpled ball beneath her stomach, and slid the book off the shelf. She left it out while she dressed. She wore the same skirt as the day before, the one with the large yellow flowers, but she slid a white cotton shirt over the tank top she'd slept in. She hoped it smelled clean enough.
At the pedestal sink in the corner, she picked up the mug sitting upside-down on the ledge. She bent down and lifted the towel covering the water bucket and dipped the mug into it. Water had not been coming in regularly to Pinar del Río for many years. Back in La Habana, there had been a few hours on some days when the water would come straight from the sink, a luxury she missed now that she lived in this tobacco-farming town. Some homes in Pinar del Río got their water from wells, but most depended on trucks that came every week or so in the afternoons. The cigar factory closed during those times, if they had advance warning, so that the workers could go home to fill buckets.
She spooned ashes from the pot next to the bucket into the mug and sipped, swishing the thick water around in her mouth to clean her teeth. She spit into the sink, directly into the drain, so she wouldn't have to waste water to rinse out the basin. This made her think of Mamá, because she had taught her this trick. She sipped and spit until there was no more water in the mug, then she dipped it in the bucket again and drank.
She stood in front of the mirror and inspected her face, greasy around the nose and forehead. Her cheeks were rough red patches, with scars from pimples streaking them like blush. She pressed her cheeks with the tips of her fingers and watched them turn a different, darker red. She leaned into the hallway and grabbed the damp towel that had been covering the chicken and scrubbed her face with it. It made her feel a little cleaner. She ran a comb through her thick black hair, which was so oily it held the little grooves left by the comb's teeth—perfect, chunky rows. She patted the crown of her head, smacking away the gray clumps of dandruff. She thought of Niño's lice, of his inability to do anything to get rid of it, and hit her scalp harder.
She pulled her hair through a rubber band in two twists, then picked the book up off the bed, holding it with both hands. The cover had a close-up picture of a young Che, in his early twenties, sitting back and squinting at something far off in the distance. Could he see then the things he would do? How old he would look someday? She brought the picture closer to her face, so that it was only a few inches away. He didn't wear the beard yet; his skin was smooth and clear except in some rough places around his chin and upper lip. His hair looked clean. He had no wrinkles, and he wore a tie.
There was something—not exactly a knock—at her door, which scared the rooster out of his corner. He ran—claws tapping on the tile—first toward the entrance, and then, as if registering seconds later in his tiny brain that the noise came from just that place, away from it—flapping his wings, jerking around, running under Marielena's bed again. The rooster's frenzy had scared her more than the knock, but she immediately threw the book onto the bed, picked up the blanket, and put it back on top of the things in the box. She pushed the box under the bed with her foot, and it scraped along the floor. She heard the rooster's wing thump against the cardboard, panicking out of its way.
She heard nothing when she put her ear to the door. She wanted to open it and see who it was, but she couldn't be sure it was a real knock, and she didn't want to call attention to herself by opening the door and seeing some neighbor—some old, bored widow, she thought, the kind the Comité recruits—across the street, sweeping.
She tiptoed back to the bed and grabbed the book—she could just open the door and start the walk to work early should any neighbors be watching from windows or porches. She slipped on her dusty sandals.
When she stepped out, she crashed into Niño, who had been standing so close to the door that she wondered if he'd actually been leaning on it.
—Damn it, girl! he said. He held her by the shoulders, as if he just saved her from falling down.
—Why are… I thought someone was at the door. Niño, how do you know my house? She looked past him. An older woman across the road was in her front yard beating a rug.
He smiled and his wrinkles peeked out from the corners of eyes. He wore a straw hat and he adjusted it on his head so that she could see more of his face. The sun was behind him, making him look very dark. The light shot through the weave of the hat, turning the straw gold.
—I've seen you, he said. I don't live so far from here.
He reached a hand toward her chest, and she almost backed away, but he was only reaching for the book. He pulled it down to look at the cover.
—Excellent, Señorita, he nodded. One of my favorites. How did you know?
She was about to say, I didn't, when the rooster ran under her skirt, out between her legs, past Niño, and into the street. She gawked at the bird, her eyes big, her mouth hanging a little open. The rooster pecked at the broken pavement, looking for something to eat among the shoots of grass springing up between the cracks. He flapped his wings as he ran, lifting himself off the ground for seconds at a time. The bird squawked, as though surprised he could fly. But he was too weak to get very high, and eventually he tucked his wings close to his body, settling for the chance to run farther than he had in months. He ducked his head and darted toward the old woman's yard.
Marielena was almost crying when she started after it, but Niño put his hand up to stop her. He didn't touch her; it was a small movement meant to avoid any further attention, to keep her from trouble. But his eyes were wider than she'd ever seen them—the lines on his face hard—and she was scared because she could tell he was, too.
—You can't, he said.
Marielena looked toward the rooster. The old woman stopped beating her rug.
—Don't look at her, Niño said. She won't know which of us it belongs to. Look at me.
Marielena stared down instead at her book and saw that her knuckles were white, her fingers like clasps on the hard cover, gripping Che's young face, the sweat from her hand leaving foggy streaks on his cheek.
—Look at me, Niño said again. Then he said, clenching his teeth, Please.
His hand still floated between them. It had odd brown blotches, like stains, on the palm, and was as broad as the tobacco leaves he worked with. She wished she could ignore the yellow age spots on his arms. He let the hand fall to his side.
—We should walk, he said.
When she didn't move, he said, You need to walk with me now, Señorita.
He offered her the crook of his arm, just as he had the day before. He wore an immaculately white guayabera. Marielena kept silent. She smelled soap on him and swallowed hard. Nodding slowly, she turned to close her front door. It clicked shut. She turned back to him and slid her hand along the inside of his elbow, resting her fingers in a nest of coarse black arm hair.
They walked together in the direction of the factory. She thought to wave at the old woman across the street, but Niño's large frame blocked her from view. Marielena's sandals smacked the bottoms of her feet, punishing her with each step. She squeezed Niño's arm.
—Are you O.K.? he said.
—I don't know.
He placed his free hand on hers, curling his fingers so that he kept her holding onto him. She was surprised at how smooth his hand felt; she had thought it would be rough from the years of rolling cigars.
—You look nice for work today, he said.
She almost said, Thank you, but she remembered she was wearing the same skirt as the day before. He rubbed the back of her hand with his thumb, the soft touch almost making her forget the spoiled-looking spots on his skin. Behind them, the rooster crowed so loudly that Marielena was sure the whole street heard. She listened as the bird scrambled away, down the street in the opposite direction, followed by a fast scraping noise that she recognized—a broom chasing after him. Niño squeezed her hand even tighter, and together they kept moving.
Copyright © Jennine Capó Crucet 2009.