Magdela would have preferred the year to be made up of eleven months. August was simply unnecessary—it was too hot to do anything. Unless, of course, a person’s mother ordered him or her to perform a chore in the midst of the heat like Magdela’s had, and then there was no choice but to be active.
And today, there was no cheerful sunshine to accompany the high temperature; the young
Italian didn’t know if that was a good thing or not. While perhaps the sun’s absence meant a few less degrees, the ostensible lifelessness of everything around her was certainly less than uplifting. There was no blue sky above and seemingly no air to breathe. Above her head was a motionless, tyrannical, and humid drabness; the sun only a hope somewhere, a pale thumbprint, a mistake of a splotch. There wasn’t even the slightest hint that the uncomfortable, spongy atmosphere was going to spool itself up into a rain cloud or invigorating thunderstorm. There was not a whisper, not a sigh of wind. It was simply miserable...and she had to be out in it.
Perspiration couldn’t even begin to describe the downpour of sweat covering her body, acting as an adhesive between her skin and her brother’s polyester soccer shirt. As Magdela walked hurriedly down the long expanse of sidewalk, which was cracked and overtaken by weeds in places, she kept her eyes cast downward, so as not to draw the attention of anyone inside the swarm of passing cars. A few had honked their horns or shouted vulgarities from their windows, but most were too busy concentrating on getting to the beach before they roasted in their tiny European cars.
She looked up just a little to see how far she had yet to go, but as she did, Magdela caught the eye of a small group of boys a few meters ahead. They were older than she by at least a few years, probably fifteen or sixteen, and definitely stronger and taller. They regarded her with disdain and condescension, which she was used to, as she was black and female—the very worst combination in the area—but the way they whispered amongst themselves and laughed cruelly had her worried.
Planning to keep her eyes averted, ignore them, and pass by quietly, Magdela pressed on purposefully.
“What are you doing here?” the ugliest of the group sneered in Italian, reaching out for her arm, but she pulled away. “Your people don’t belong out in public!”
Unable to help herself, Magdela had to respond to the offensive remark with her own, “And your kind of people shouldn’t be allowed off leashes!” Even as the last syllable fell from her lips, she regretted responding. Her mother reminded her constantly not to react out of...