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from the March 2020 issue

Morning Conversation

In this dispatch from Mexico, Milena Solot provides a glimpse of daily life in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rocío’s brother Carlos came back today. I wasn't worried but Rocío was, or at least she seemed to be. Maybe Rocío was worried for her mom, rather, because her mother was worried about Carlos. They hadn’t heard from him for a week. They thought he might be in prison, they wondered if he was dead. The boy he went with, Ely's brother, came back saying the officers chased them after the truck they were traveling in crashed. The boy was caught. Carlos, however, ran into the bush.

“Thank God he came back,” I say to Rocío. “I was worried about him. Last night I went to sleep thinking about him, you know what I mean, not thinking like that,”we both laugh—“but thinking oh I hope Carlos is OK.”

“I understand,” she tells me. “I know what you mean. I also went to bed hoping he was alright.”

“Although I wasn't really worried. I mean not really worried about him; you know what I mean? He's so smart, Carlos, he has done this so many times. It's hard to imagine him being caught.”

“I know, but they did tell us he was in prison.”

“Who told you this?”

“Some cousin who lives in San Antonio, but then she called the prison and he wasn't there.”

“What prison?”

“I don't know.”

“Oh, well . . . but he's OK.”


“Will he try again?”

“Oh, you know Carlos, he just can't stay here anymore. He gets restless.”

“I don't know why, I mean, he already has his big house.”

“And his cars.”

“He may need a woman, a very attractive woman who makes him want to stay. Not like Karina.”

“Yes, not like her!”

“More like Bere.”

“Yeah, I really like her.”

“But she's taken.”

“I know.”

“Did he come by bus?”


“Did Carlos arrive by bus?”

“Oh, yes, today at 5 am. He called Dani and she went to pick him up at the terminal.”

“That makes me want to cry.”


“I just find his relationship with Dani so tender. I think he sees her as his little baby sister.”

“Well, she is his little baby sister.”

“He adores her. I mean, he loves all of you, but Dani is really, really special for him.”

“I know, we all have one person who's the most special to us, don't you think?”

“I guess.”

I stand up and pour some coffee in my cup. I glance at Rocío, slowly washing dishes in the sink.

“You know what Ely told me the other day?” she tells me.

“What was that?”

“She told me I was rich.”


“She told me: Tía, do you know you're rich? and I said, Rich? Why? and Ely said: Because you have your own house and you have enough to eat. And I told her: I guess you're right, Ely, I am rich.”

“I like Ely, bring her over one day, one day without a pandemic.” We both laugh. “I'll be working in the next room, Rocío, tell me if you need anything. Rocío? Thank you. Really. Thank you for everything you do around here. I have no idea how I could manage without you.”

“Oh, it's nothing. I like coming here,” she says and winks.

"Morning Conversation" © Milena Solot. By arrangement with the author. All rights reserved.

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