She stands with her hands on her hips. She wears shorts and a Red Sox T-shirt, bare thick arms. She is grass-stained, soggy, and bruised from hard play. She says huskily, “Ma, it's worse in here.” In one hand is a single black-eyed Susan.
The room is near ninety degrees. Houseflies wheel against the ceiling. Earlene turns her head away from the light of the open door so that it only touches the outline of her razorlike cheekbone.
Bonny Loo goes to the foot of the bed and squeezes her mother's toes. “Feel that, Ma?” she asks.
“You ain't dead yet, then!” the child chirps.
Earlene closes her eyes.
Bonny Loo waves the black-eyed Susan in her mother's ...