on the corner

Overnight the bodega is gone. Now it’s just two walls, a foundation, and a column holding up the rest. I peek in as I’m walking by, and a small man steps out of the dim interior onto the sidewalk. He’s got his white dust mask down around his neck and one hand on his chest.

“You are my heart,” he says in a melodious accent I can’t place. I laugh, this is nothing new.

He smiles and pats his chest. “Do you want to be my heart?”

“I’m somebody else’s heart,” I tell him.

“Are you sure?” he asks as I pass by. Over my shoulder I hear the laughter of a handful of men ringing out from the darkness at the back of the bodega’s shell. I turn and see the man disappear into the shadows.

I can’t tell if they’re laughing at him or at me, and either way, I don’t like it. I feel the space where the bodega used to be fading from the map of what counts as my neighborhood.


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