256 Words

This They Can Never Take

M. Stanley Bubien

Alfonso stepped carefully and the sand engulfed his foot, filling the space between his toes---a sensation he always associated with this place, his place of comfort since being driven from his home and fleeing to America.

"And again," he whispered in his own language, shaking his head.

"Look Alfonso," his boss had grated, "it's one job or the other. Not both."

Alfonso chose his words. "Ahm sahrry, Meestahr Birdsman"---even after four years, he still mispronounced his boss' name---"ah need both jahbs. Mah fahmily needs thee mahney."

"You can't stay on your toes with two jobs."

"Pleeze, donnah take thees ahway from ahs. We cannah barely afford thee food."

"I gave you a raise last month," Bertsman's jaw squared, "you're already making more than any of my other janitors."

Alfonso searched for the proper words, but Bertsman's eyes glared steel finality at him. He gave up with a simple shake of his head.

The rising tide licked the ankle of Alfonso's buried foot. As he lifted it from the freshly-wetted sand, it caused a sucking sound as air and muddy water rushed in to fill the gap.

He cocked his head and took another step. Again the sand sucked at his foot and mud filled the emptiness he'd created. He slogged up the beach carefully, feeling the wet sand repeat its process every time.

"Yes," Alfonso smiled in his own language. "They've taken much. And maybe more still. But this," he lifted his dripping foot once more, "this they can never take from me."

Copyright ©1997 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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May, 1997
Issue #13

256 Words