Mom’s cornmeal porridge was just the way I liked it, but even that couldn’t fill the pit in my stomach. Ginga held onto me so tight the morning before the trip, I wondered if she thought she’d never see me again. Mom was strangely talkative, not that she’s so quiet, but anything that could be a conversation was. You have your tings? How you feeling? The weather look good. The porridge a lickle sweet. You need toilet paper? What about cheese, should I pack some cheese, don’t Liam like our cheese? It shouldn’t have felt like that, the thought of being away from each other for a night. It shouldn’t have been that hard, but that’s what life looks like when you only have each other. It was like our little world was coming undone, and had I known, I never would have agreed to go.

Liam and I met when I first moved here eight years ago, I was six. Mom sent for me once she’d found work and a place to stay. Our apartment on Black Creek. We were the same age, but Liam’s always been smaller. He’s smaller than almost everyone. People used to push him around because of it, and he was too nice or scared or unsure to push back. But when I came, I pushed for him, well, actually, I punched. We weren’t friends yet, but my Dad always told me there was only one person worse than a bully; whoever stood by and did nothing about them. I looked out for Liam and he looked out for me, the new kid with words that didn’t speak quite the same, even though they were. We’ve been best friends since.

Check out the full story in our summer issue, out in July 2024!