smother or suppress
Efrén covered his mouth and
stifled his laughter as a sleeping Max pulled away his leg.
Some kids at school only saw this white kid who likes to dress flashy and
flaunt his latest piece of jewelry.
a tuft of hair in a different direction from the rest
Being Soperwoman wasn’t just about checking teeth, flattening down
cowlicks, and making sure Max wore only one pair of underwear at a time.
having escaped, especially from confinement
Home raids, car chases, and suspects
at large were all as familiar as paletero trucks selling ice-cream bars outside of church.
manually manipulate, for medicinal or relaxation purposes
“Whatcha doing up there?” asked David,
kneading the kittens’ backs.
laugh at with contempt and derision
“Oh, I finally complained. Told her that I’m too old to be walked to school.”
scoffed. “Yeah, right. You probably begged her, huh?”
without knowledge or intention
“Nah, I got this,” David said, his usual swag now replaced with an uncomfortable wobble from the wedgie he’d
inadvertently given himself.
caused by law or conscience to follow a certain course
She had this theory about how people only offer things because they feel
obligated by the whole manners thing—kind of like when the family has company and Amá offers to feed them despite the fact that it would mean digging into the family’s weekly rations.
a fixed portion that is allotted
She had this theory about how people only offer things because they feel obligated by the whole manners thing—kind of like when the family has company and Amá offers to feed them despite the fact that it would mean digging into the family’s weekly
worn by exposure to the elements
Efrén unzipped his backpack and took out the books he’d tucked away at the bottom. He then slipped them into the
weathered, empty Amazon box marked “return” seated outside the library door.
make one's way by pushing or shoving
After that, Efrén and Abraham
jostled for a better position to watch David showing off his skills on his new Nintendo Switch, which he’d gotten a month ago for his birthday.
surpassing the ordinary or normal
Even with the uneven letters slanting to one side, the caricature at the center showed an
uncanny similarity to Jennifer Huerta.
so surprised or shocked as to be unable to speak
Efrén stood there,
a representation of a person exaggerated for comic effect
caricature of David, drawn on yellow poster paper, hung over the toilet.
a rule adopted by an organization
“I don’t know, dude. The
bylaws say that messing with a person’s campaign poster could get us disqualified.”
in an uncontrolled manner
David waved his arms
frantically to get Efrén's attention.
not free to move about
Maybe she’d taken the Minions down to the school playground to get the wiggles out of their system. Especially Max. He didn’t do well in
go, come, or spread in a rambling or irregular way
He looked up at the setting sun and then around at the last of the neighborhood kids
common or disreputable people
riffraff (or chusma, as Amá liked to call them) would begin trickling out, and it was best to try to avoid them.
for or by a group rather than individuals
Only he kept thinking about the neighborhood gossip he’d picked up from a few of Amá's comadres at the
communal laundromat—stories about nearby factories getting raided and somebody—usually someone’s distant cousin—getting caught and deported.
beg or request earnestly and urgently
He imagined them blessing themselves,
imploring la Virgen María and any of a long list of patron saints to pray for Amá's safe return.
seemingly; as far as one can tell
The smell of smoke had
apparently slowed her Tupperware sales.
disarrange or rumple; dishevel
Apá approached Efrén,
tousling his hair and pulling him into a tight hug.
a stimulus that provides information about what to do
Somehow, no matter the time, she’d always sense his presence and wrap her arms around him. And then on
cue, she’d say a short prayer before running her fingers along his hair, piojito style.
summon up, call forth, or bring together
Efrén tried distracting his mind with positive thoughts, but all the positivity he could
muster was the fact that he positively missed his mother.
so badly formed or distorted as to be ugly
A bit later, Efrén and Max and Mía stood along the kitchen table, forming the premade biscuit dough into
misshapen animal figures.
burn slightly and superficially so as to affect color
“Okay. Now stand back, you two. The oil is very, very hot. Last thing I want is Amá coming home to a pair of
not protected by trademark
A half hour later, Efrén found himself at the elementary school lunch tables, eating
generic Cheerios with his brother and sister.
add explanatory notes to or supply with critical comments
But how could he
annotate an entire three-page article for Mr. Garrett with only fifteen minutes until the first bell?
be attractive to
“Simple. I want to
appeal to all my voters. Blue for boys? Pink for girls?”
the act of sending or directing something to someone
“Oh, and make sure you return the slip, or it’s an automatic
referral to the office.”
a short note recognizing a source of information
For the rest of class, Efrén did his best to stay focused as Mr. Garrett droned on about the lack of proper
citations in today’s media—well, as best as he could, with David slipping him little notes with campaign slogan ideas.
the most direct route
He kept himself perfectly still, but his eyes followed as Apá made a
beeline for the kitchen phone.
an untrained person who pretends to be a physician
Despite his burning temperature, Apá insisted doctors were all
quacks and that all they ever do is suggest Tylenol, rest, and plenty of water.
respiratory disease characterized by lung inflammation
As it turned out, the doctor found Apá had
pneumonia, something Amá blamed on the long hours he spent working in the cold.