10

There were only two more weeks to go. My mother had been right—the harvest would last about six weeks. The seven cents a tray we earned picking grapes and sacrificing them to the sun to be turned into raisins seemed like very little compared to our ravenous efforts.

I had held up rather well so far, but mainly through the forceful encouragement of my mother who had a way of presenting a bleak future should I decide not to conform to her law. The three of us—my mom, my sister Mónica, and I—had become proud of our ability to withstand six sun-soaked days a week in the baked San Joaquin valley vineyards.

It was during the third week of our blind ambition that my mother informed us that she would no longer be accompanying and supervising our efforts. “I got that job at the rest home,” my mother explained, “so you two keep working till the picking’s over, and Ramón can still work in the house. I’ll be working nights.”

“Why do we have to keep working?” I asked. “You’ll be making more than both of us.”

“You only have three weeks more to go,” she ordered, “and then you get to start school.”

“I don’t get to start school, I have to start school,” I pointed out with emphasis on key words.

“Yes, that’s true, hijito, and you don’t get to go to work, you have to go to work,” she teased. And she and Mónica looked at each other and laughed.

Worry consumed Mónica’s face as she considered more profoundly the announcement our mother had delivered. “You mean I have to work alone with him?” Mónica asked incredulously. I smiled a bashful and innocent radiance as I looked at my judges. “He is not going to mind me, Mom,” Mónica said with assurance.

“I don’t have to mind anybody!” I replied. “I work hard.”

-33-

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A Fabricated Mexican
Table of contents

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  • Title Page 1
  • 1 7
  • 2 10
  • 3 16
  • 4 17
  • 5 19
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  • 8 29
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  • 10 33
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  • 31 123
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