This piece originally appeared in ZYZZYVA, in 2008.
Edith leaned into her cane and waited for the housekeeper to quit ignoring her. The backs of Conchita’s thighs jiggled as she scrubbed. She bent down into the pink tub and the hem of her dress rose, revealing a tiny smile of white cotton with a few black hairs curling around the sides.
Edith struck a match and sucked a puff. Conchita jerked upright. “Señora Edith!” She placed a hand on her chest, emphasizing the sheen of sweat on her bosom.
“I paid that Carlisle glutton $2,500 to lacquer the sinks and tubs,” Edith said. You’re scrubbing too hard.”
Conchita held up the sponge, and ran a finger along its blue underside. “Is very soft,” she said. Dimples puckered her pudgy cheeks. “No hay problema.”
Just that morning, Edith had heard Conchita talking English to another Mexican. If she could talk English to a Mexican, why did she talk Mexican to Edith?
One of her kids squatted in the corner, staring at Edith round-eyed. Edith disliked cats equally, and for the same reason.
“He ain’t got business in this place,” she said.