The Secret Side of Empty

The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu Read Free Book Online

Book: The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu Read Free Book Online
Authors: Maria E. Andreu
hundred years old. I fight the urge to throw a pair of balled-up socks at the back of her head.
    I get on my bike and go to the library. I have nothing to do, no paper to type or anything due for school. I google “immigration laws” and “immigration amnesty” like I have so many times before. As usual, there is nothing. Nothing good, anyway.

    S UBURBANITES SURE DO LOVE THEIR AMBIGENDROUS NAMES . The next day, I go tutor Mackenzie, who is a girl, and Cody, who is a boy. Mackenzie is Patricia’s little sister. She can barely add but is some kind of lacrosse star who really needs to pass freshman math. Cody lives two doors down and heard about me from Mackenzie, whom he seems to be crushing on desperately.
    In the middle of Mack’s session, Cody walks in, trailed by the maid who let him in.
    “Oh, are you guys still working? I thought you were coming over my house at four-thirty,” Cody says. This is the third week he’s done this.
    “No, we said five o’clock, remember?” I point out, annoyed.
    “It’s okay,” says Mackenzie. “We were just about done anyway.”
    We weren’t, but the lesson is now officially over. Cody says something inane and Mack giggles and doodles spirals on the edges of her notebook. I still have to explain simplifying algebraic equations to her, but I’ve lost her. If she messes up on her math test, her parents might start to think that tutoring is not paying off and call in the big guns. Stupid Cody.
    “Focus, Mack. Let’s just get through the simplification process before we stop.”
    Mackenzie rolls her eyes. “I mean, seriously, am I ever going to need this in real life?”
    “Mackenzie, passing math is real life. C’mon, look here. Can you simplify this problem further?”
    Mack plays it off like she’s going to try, but Cody is throwing little bits of rolled-up paper at her head. I look up and try to keep my patience. In the kitchen, which I can see from the family room because Mack and Patricia’s house is what they call “open concept,” Mackenzie’s parents’ housekeeper is slowly shining a granite countertop that is already so spotless it’s blinding. It blows my mind that she is actually wearing a maid uniform. Did Mackenzie’s parents buy it or does the maid wear it for kicks, being all retro about it?
    Mackenzie sees me looking over at the kitchen and mistakes the look for interest in food.
    “Yeah, I’m hungry, too,” she says. “Marta, we need a snack.”
    Marta looks up and blinks a little, clearly confused.
    “Hell-o. Anybody there?” She waves her hand in a slow and exaggerated way. “Marta, snack-o?” Mackenzie rolls her eyes. “Ugh. This one is new. Margarita, who I loved, just moved back to Guatemala, who knows why. Why would anybody go back there? This one’s English is nonexistent.”
    “Please bring-o el snack-o.” Mackenzie’s having fun with this now, miming. My guts twist a little and I’m suddenly not hungry at all.
    “No, it’s okay, Mackenzie, we’re fine. I should get over to Cody’s.”
    “No, it’s not okay that she won’t get me a snack when I need one.”
    Marta is coming over, misunderstanding what Mackenzie is saying.
    Not wanting to see this go any further, I blurt out, “ Ella dice que si nos puede traer algo de comer .”
    “ Ah, sí, algo de comer. Como guste ,” she says. As you wish . She turns toward the pantry full of bags and boxes of every imaginable processed food on the planet.
    “M.T., you’ve really been paying attention in Spanish class, huh? I should get my parents to pay you to come over every day after school and translate for the maid.”
    All of a sudden my eyeballs are pounding. “Okay, so, look, I’m going to Cody’s now, but you should work on problems eight through twenty-two. And watch nineteen, it’s got that twist we were talking about before. Remember.” I’m slamming books and getting my stuff ready.
    Marta puts down a bowl of popcorn and a plate full of Fruit Roll-Ups on the

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