The kind you’re born with, the kind you choose, the kind that teach Catholic school
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Susan Straight has published eight novels, most recently Between Heaven and Here, which is set in an orange grove. All three of her daughters work at museums, which she thinks could be a world record. She lives in Riverside, California, where she has a one-eyed retriever named Fantasia and a Chihuahua-born fighting hen who is approximately ninety in chicken years.
This is how it works when times are hard, and even when times are better, if we’re lucky. We women stand on the sidewalk and rest our backs against fences and lean into open car windows to see who needs what. In my twenty-five years living on this block, there have been recessions before, but this one has lasted the longest.
The phone rang just after Felonise had hung up the white clothes in the backyard. It was late October, and the laundry swayed in the California wind that blew hot and gentle from the moment the sun came up out here in the orange groves outside Rio Seco: the dish towels, the sheets from the fold-out couch where her grandson Teeter had spent the night when his brother, Lafayette, went to a piano concert, and the white socks her daughter Cerise called “Peds,” the ones Felonise liked to wear at night around the house. Could wash them after one night. Cleaner than slippers.