by Noah Cicero

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In the eastside of Youngstown in the projects sits Esmeralda in her kitchen.

The place is small.

Clothes are scattered on the floor.

She has long bleached blonde hair, milky white skin-tone and freckles. She has a shapely body.

Esmeralda is drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette.

She is reading a Jean Rhys novel.

Sunlight comes through the window. It shines on her face and on the pages of the book she is reading.

Her five-year-old comes in. He is mixed. His father is a large black man who lives on the south side and has custody of him on the weekends.

“You told me to go and get you some bread and milk. But every time I try to get to the store the older boys hit me and take the money.”

“This has happened twice now. You have to stand up for yourself. Not let these little fuckers push you around.”

Esmeralda walks over to the corner of the kitchen and grabs a baseball bat. She walks over and hands it to her boy.

“Now take this and if any of those little fuckers start shit with you. Hit them with this. Grow some balls,” says Esmeralda.

Esmeralda leans down to be face to face with her boy, “Now listen to me. In this world, the mother fuckers are always trying to get you. They always trying to take your shit and break you down. You can’t let them have an inch. If you let them take an inch, they will take a mile. So take this bat and show them who the baddest mother fucker is. All right?”

“I got it mom.”

The boy looks at her. He knows now he has to do it. And he to do it any means necessary. He doesn’t feel like hitting the other kids. But this is the only way. He holds the baseball tight and leaves.

Esmeralda sits down at the table. Takes a drink of her beer and stares pensively.

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