F I C T I O N Rosita’s fifteen-year old son says, “Mom, seriously, no one wears that color.” Rosita pushes her arms through the sleeves, trying not to show how nervous and shaky she is feeling. Her son, Jonathan, is tapping a pencil on his teeth and it takes all of her fortitude to not say something. His dad, Jerome Anthony Fudge, had the same habit. Click, click, click; pencil against teeth. What Rosita really wants to do is grab it from her son and throw it against the wall. Instead, she continues adjusting the fluorescent orange XXL hoodie. Why, she wonders, would they send her, 5’1″ and 120 pounds, an XXL?
Rosita met Jerome in high school, immediately got pregnant, then married, and now at age 32 is the single mother of a brainy teenager who is clueless about how she feels. Jerome stays in touch with Jonathan, sends him money, a new laptop every few years, and pays the tuition to the genius school his son attends. Two separate lives coexist and Jonathan navigates the middle without bringing in any crossover complications. Rosita dearly loves her son for that.
Being a traffic guard was not how a young Rosita de Jesus had imagined herself as a grown up. She was a fashionista in high school, making her own clothes and using all the style sense her grandmother and mother bestowed. Rosita planned on going to college in New York City and then along came Jerome. She doesn’t remember even caring that much about him but he was nice enough and seemed like an OK boyfriend. Everything changed when she found out she was pregnant. He was vague and afraid. It didn’t take very long for his family to intervene. The marriage lasted 2 years and 2 days and then Rosita and Jonathan were alone. The Fudge seniors paid for an apartment, pre-school for Jon, and most of what cost only money. Their friends suggested paying off Rosita but in fact they call her an “employee” and send regular paychecks; just as they do to their gardeners and staff.
Today Rosita knows the eye-catching orange sweatshirt might keep her, and a line of kids crossing Mulholland, from getting hit by a speeding Porsche. She feels bitterness eating away at her and resolves to be more positive. There is a teenage girl crossing with the younger kids, probably someone’s older sister, who looks at Rosita with pity. Rosita wants to say, “Be careful” but knows that won’t ever really be enough.
Kim Kohler writes on the uncertainties of living in a liberal hot spot where everybody has an opinion, every opinion counts and nobody uses turn signals.