7. “Where was the arm?” J. asked.
“In the toilet,” Lucia answered. She was arranging dolls in a row. Most were missing parts or pieces and were conspicuously nude. But she kept on task, her forehead slick with sweat, her skit sticking to her damp legs.
“This is just shit,” she explained. “Trying to do this is shit.”
“Then why do it?” J. asked. He was sitting next to her on the floor. Outside, a scooter hissed. A ray of light slanted through the half basement window, illuminating a world of swirling dust.
Lucia moved next to J. and hitched up her skirt. She moved aside her panties and J. placed his hand on the familiar spot. They continued as Lucia cooled, the liquid between her legs began to lose its turgidity and drip down her tights. This was a process they had to complete: like taking a shortcut through a weedy lot tramped down by the feet of a thousand people. But they had to stop: they heard Lucia’s mother open the kitchen door, so the girl adjusted her clothes. She stood for a moment above J. and looking down, frowned.
“Why was the arm in the toilet?” J. asked again, resuming their conversation.
“It came out of Mama,” Lucia explained lithely.
“Why?” J. pressed.
“Shit,” Lucia answered, having moved back to arranging the dolls. “What a supremely shitty job.” And then: “Why?” she grimaced. “Because the baby was in her wrong. It came out in parts and pieces but the first part that came out was the arm in the toilet upstairs and the rest at the hospital.”