Someone lights up two tables down. Kools. Their peculiar scent never fails to transport me back to her musty old house on Ventnor Terrace.
My mother would leave us there for a week each summer. I can’t say we were difficult children, but I suppose she was entitled to a break.
My sister and I would race from room to room, under constant threat from sharp edges, low ceilings and one exasperated grandmother. We were armed with toy guns – bright blue and orange with suction cup darts that stuck to the wall if you shot them real straight. Why don’t you have a back yard, mom-mom?
I do, she’d reply, but it wasn’t like any backyard I’d ever seen – concrete edge to edge, with a chain link fence on the alley side and a rusty metal pole sticking up in the center, its green paint half worn away and its clothesline long ago claimed by rot or soot or the smoke from my grandmother’s lungs.