Published on October 28th, 2013 | by Apuntes LJ


How We Endure

An excerpt of a book in progress, by Jarod Roselló

About The Author
JarodProfile03RS Jarod Roselló is a Cuban-American teacher, cartoonist, and writer, born and raised in Miami, Florida. He currently lives in State College, Pennsylvania. Jarod holds a Master in Fine Arts in creative writing from Penn State and is now working on his PhD in Curriculum & Instruction. He teaches undergraduate courses at Penn State, in the College of Education. Jarod’s comics and fiction have appeared in the delinquent, Cause & Effect Magazine, Gulfstream Literary Magazine, Sonora Review, Neon Literary Journal, Fast Forward Flash Fiction, Volume 3, Sorry Entertainer, and Gin Palace. His chapbook of fiction, This is Not Where You Belong, was published in 2012 by Aestel and Acanthus.
In December 2012, Jarod and his wife, Angie, founded Bien Vestido, a small press dedicated to publishing comics and zines by latina/o cartoonists and artists. Jarod writes From the Gutter, a column on the craft of comics for Pank Magazine’s blog.

He is outside early in the morning with nothing to do. He considers playing in the yard or maybe just walking the neighborhood to see what’s outside. Maybe find a strange house he can convince himself is haunted. He feels like maybe he should use this time to get to know his neighborhood because he’s living now in a place suitable to being outside for long periods of time unsupervised. His mother had opened the door that morning, said, “Go make some friends.” She’d been wearing a long t-shirt splattered in paint, old paint that was now dry. He didn’t want to go outside. He said, “What about Victoria?” His mother said, “Go play outside,” and pushed him out the door. She shut the door slowly while peering out at him, then locked it and said, “Come back just before it gets dark.” It’s hot outside and he doesn’t have any water or access to water and not having access to water makes him nervous, so he starts to get a little shaky. He walks to the side yard, climbs a lychee nut tree that is just starting to sprout, sits in the tree for a while until he finds ants, but his presence seems to upset those ants and decides to get down. He walks the perimeter of the unfenced yard to a large overgrowth near the back of the house. He can see that the overgrowth blocks from view a small smooth space that he can climb into. He climbs the neighbor’s fence and walks along the horizontal planks of the fence until he’s past the plant cover, over the bushes, and jumps down onto hard dirt. There is nothing back here. Probably, he thinks, this is where the opossums live or raccoons or snakes or other things that sneak around at night. He believes there are opossums, though no one has seen one yet, but he heard them one night, climbing in the walls. Scratching. He’d stood up on his bed, woken by the scratching, and listened, following the scratching noise with his ears as it climbed up and down the inside of the wall. He banged on the wall when the noise got close to his head and then it went away. He imagines the opossums or rats or raccoons or whatever critter makes that scratching noise must live somewhere dark, somewhere people don’t go, and he feels like this place, this small space of dirt that doesn’t even seem to exist is a good place for one of these creatures to live. There is a small opening at the base of the house—the place where the outside wall meets the ground—that he thinks he can fit in but doesn’t want to try. He worries he’ll get stuck and end up living under the house, living in the walls, banging Morse code on the walls until someone gets help. And even then, how would they get him out? They’d have knock out a wall and his parents wouldn’t be happy about that.

He didn’t know what to say, he didn’t know if these were real tears because she was sad, or tears because she was angry, or tears because she was happy: his mother cried so much and so frequently, that he wasn’t even sure he could think of tears as meaning anything anymore

There is a low tree trunk, a tree that has been chopped down and the trunk has been cut real short to the ground. The inside of the trunk has been scooped out and in the hollow space are cracked egg shells and chicken bones. In his old neighborhood, people used to throw plastic bags with dead chickens on the street corners, at intersections. His mother called animal services one day, he heard her say over the phone, “There’s a bag of chickens outside my house.” They didn’t come to get the bag, said they only pick up cats and dogs. His mother had said, “A chicken is a fucking pet.” She looked at him, said, “You didn’t hear that.” He wasn’t allowed to hear bad words, had been grounded in the past because he’d been standing too close to his mother when she used curse words. His mother had said, “Why are you always sneaking up on me?” and sent him to his room to think about what he’d done. She’d said, as he walked away, “Walk harder if you’re going to be so silent.” Later, she came in the room, apologized, cried, said, “Sometimes I get carried away.” He didn’t know what to say, he didn’t know if these were real tears because she was sad, or tears because she was angry, or tears because she was happy: his mother cried so much and so frequently, that he wasn’t even sure he could think of tears as meaning anything anymore.

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  • Quote of the Day

    “One dies slowly who becomes a slave to habits, takes no chances, avoids passion, does not risk uncertainty . . . who quits before getting started, complains about bad luck, doesn’t travel or read or dream, does not trust, does not dare try, does not love . . . the opposite is to be alive.”

    - Pablo Neruda

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