The HOUSE – Phillip Has Some News -26-

house on 37

The moment I finished talking, I knew it wasn’t right.

“Ah, this is weird. I’m sorry.”

Phillip didn’t say a word but stood there smoking.

“It is not my business or place to ask you such thing.”

The man took a couple of steps and showed me one of the buildings down the street.

“See that house?”

I nodded my head. That was Joseph’s house, the elderly man at the window I had talked to when Phillip’s aunt was taken to the hospital.

“The owner bought that house in the ’90s with $45,000. Now it’s $2,000,000.” My neighbor turned to see my reaction. I was stunned.

He continued. “My grandfather gave my mom the house we lived in. A few years ago, my aunt bought the house I live in now and asked me to take care of it while she was in Africa. A while ago, she put my name on the house deed.”

I felt pretty embarrassed. “You don’t need to tell me all of these. I’m sorry I asked to see your mother’s house. It was so out of line.”

“C’mon, Sophie. It’s all right.” He finished his cigarette and dropped the cigarette butt on the ground. Then he stepped on it.

“Just for you to know, I sold mom’s house. The new owner had a crew for about a month to do some changes inside. But the guy never showed up after that. Did they ever change the locks? No. Do I want to go and see the improvements? Yes.” He looked at me and laughed. “Let’s go!”

I wasn’t so eager anymore to see the interior of that building since it involved trespassing. Phillip read my thoughts. “It’s not a problem. The owner asked me to keep an eye on the house. Are you coming?”

The HOUSE – First Evening -21-


“It’s not my business,” I told myself again going back in the apartment. “I have enough drama in my life right now and don’t need more.” I put a bag of popcorn in the microwave for dinner and turned on the TV. The exhaustion took such a toll on me that when I was half into the bowl of popcorn I fell asleep.

I heard Adam unlocking the front door and I turned off the TV. It was midnight.

“Mom, are you OK?”

I took a glimpse of myself in the mirror on the wall and saw my puffy eyes. “It’s nothing; it was an interesting day and I fell asleep all dressed. How was your evening?”

“Good.” Adam dropped his shirt on the chair and went to the bedroom. “There was this guy who offered me a job.” He came back in his pajamas.

“To do what?”

“To sell life insurance.” I could see from his face expression he wasn’t delighted. “I don’t know … ”

An ambulance was blearing its sirens on the main road and I remembered I didn’t take my heart meds. They were there in the little basket for pills, by the sofa.

“If I decide to try it, I have to be at their office on Monday for the entire day.”

“It’s your day off.” I went and changed in the bathroom and came back in the living room.

“It will not hurt to try,” he completed.

The next minute I was on the couch under the blanket. He wasn’t pleased. “Are you sure you want to sleep on the couch? I told you the bedroom is yours.”

“This couch is very comfortable, son. I made you enough trouble already.” Adam came and sat on the edge of it, patting my hand. “I’m sorry you have to go through this, mom. I’ll help you. You’ll be fine.”



The House -16-


How come I didn’t see it? “Where did you find it? Is it a credit card?”

Adam handed it to me for a moment, then took it back. It wasn’t a credit card.

“It’s some sort of card.” He bent it. It was pretty elastic.

“Careful,” I said, “don’t crake it.”

Black with a golden border and the size of a regular card, there were no words on it, but a long number.

“I’ve never seen something like this,” Adam stated and took a seat on the couch. He used to work as a teller at a bank. Actually, I worked in banking in the past as well until I got sick. Many cards went through our hands, but none was like this one.

“I think it’s an access code.”

“Like for an office or something?” he asked.

“Maybe. Or for some site on Internet, for an exclusive bank, something like that. You name it. I wonder how come I didn’t find it when I looked through the wallet.”

My son placed it on the table. “It detached from the wallet when started getting dry, I guess,” he concluded and went to his bedroom. “I’m going out for the evening.”

It was the right time for me to get rid of the boxes and put my stuff away. Even though the apartment was small, when I finished the floor was empty. In spite of the little vases with flowers from Michaels, the store, you couldn’t say a new person moved in. I had a bouquet of orange peonies, and two of tulips, pink and yellow. My only painting I brought, a street detail in Paris with a woman holding a red umbrella and looking at the Eiffel Tower, was already on the wall in the living room. Adam didn’t have anything against personalizing my room. And yes, I still needed to go through the kitchen utensils again after bringing my own pots and pans and kind of piling them up on two shelves and behind the cupboard.

Then the siren of the ambulance speared the street. A police car and a firetruck followed and stopped feet away from our place.


The House -14-


I heard my son’s steps down on the alley. Then he cleared his throat the way my dad used to. I loved that. When he turned on the stairs, his face lit up seeing me. It was such a sweet feeling since I had to leave from where I stayed knowing that I was unwanted. Hard stuff for someone who is not young anymore.

“I’m glad you settle in.” He chuckled.

“Well, my stuff is still on the floor, but I can say I’m happy here. I’ll put my load away.” He was so generous. I got to catch his hand for a second and squeezed it as he passed by me.

“Thank you.” Tears welled up again.

I let him get in without me being in his way. “How was it?”

“I love the campus. Not to say anything about Cal Fullerton, but UCI is great. I got three classes for the summer and I’m very happy.” He took a semester at Cal Fullerton and didn’t finish.

“That’s great, son. All your hard work will pay off.”

When he turned on the water in the bathroom, the faucet screeched. “Do you need to use the bathroom? ‘Cause  I’m taking a shower.”

“No worries. I’ll be on the porch.”

Moments later somebody was at the trash cans. I saw a tanned arm lifting the lid of one of the bins and dropping a bag inside, a trash bag. I wouldn’t know who that person was if the blinds from the window I was watching wouldn’t flutter. I leaned forward to see if there was anybody in the room. That was when the person from the trash cans appeared in my sight. She was watching that window the same I was.

It was the woman with one earring.

Mom’s Picture – Poem


Mom’s Picture

Poem By Rodica Iova

My heart is full of your love.

I look at your picture on my nightstand

And I see you smiling at me.

I remember your blouse

With white and black pattern

And the scarf from dad.

You never had a necklace, mom

Because you placed yourself

On the bottom of the list all the time.

You gave me not only life,

But you gave yourself to me

To see me stretching my wings

To conquer the sky.



More Than the Color Grey

zara--wool-coat-product-1-17282416-1-576620617-normalMy mom got me an orange coat that fall.

I was 12 or 13 and the city still had the old kind of stores with the wooden floor smelling of petroleum. We didn’t go often at a clothing store, because buying a thick coat was a great investment for a family of workers in that part of the world. Mom always used to get me one that was one or two sizes bigger, to ensure it would be good for the next couple of years. As a child, I didn’t care. Wearing the coat with folded sleeves was all right. Nobody made a fuss of it.  But now I was already tall and mama was confident enough to buy me one my size. “She would not keep growing like she used to,” mom told dad.

When I entered the store, I could see all the coats on hangers and suspended up high on a string in the back of the counter. The orange one caught my eye. “I want that one.” Mom took a deep breath. “Are you sure they would let you wear it to school? It looks too modern. ”

“They” were the communist leaders in my school.

The same question weighed on my soul for a moment, but I dismissed it. “I’m sure they will,” I assured mom. “Actually, they might not even see it, since I don’t wear it in the classroom, but on the street.”

The clerk managed to get the coat and handed it to me. “It’s a daring color,” he admitted.

I tried it and a warm feeling comforted my heart.

Mama paid for it and let me wear it on our way home. “Here she comes the princess,” I though while catching a glorious glimpse of myself in every single shop-window we were passing by.

I was happy. Life was more than the color grey.

(And no, “they” didn’t catch me, and I wore it for the next three years.)