Written by Carolyn See
Golden Days, 1986
Take this for a story. It’s four in the afternoon: 1950 something. A chunky thirteen-year-old walks home after school, kicking at leaves with heavy shoes, up the buckling sidewalks of Micheltorena Hills, in the parched and arid heart of Los Angeles. She dawdles, she doesn’t want to get there. Her father’s gone, there’s no joy here, or ever, maybe. At 3:45 she drifts down through a small "Spanish" patio and into a house that perches precariously on the side of this hill — crackling with dried and golden rye grass — bangs the door, clumps down the tiled hall to the sunken living room, where she sees her mother crying. Her mother looks up, twists her tear-stained linen handkerchief, and says, with all the vindictiveness a truly heartbroken woman can muster, "Must you always be so heavy?"
The thirteen-year-old, her face flushed from the sun, the walk, and pure shame, walks on tiptoe without speaking, past her mother to the picture window, which faces diagonally west. She doesn’t think to look below, to the patio perfect for parties they’ll never give, but only out, out to the horizon where, past twenty miles of miniature city, the ocean — thin strip — catches the afternoon sun, and blazes. Ah!
"Don’t put your head on the window!" her mother snaps, and the girl lurches back as if the window burned, but her forehead mark, brain fingerprint, remains.
© 1986 Carolyn See; New York: McGraw-Hill