The day of the moon landing, George and I planned to hunt for rocks. Jorge was his actual name, but he preferred to go by George, like The Beatles guitar man. We were going to look for samples just like the astronauts would.
I sprang out of bed and cranked the window open. Looking out between the twisting glass slats, I noticed the leaves of our lemon tree were still. I hoped it meant the rains would stay away, even though July afternoon downpours in Cuba were as regular as the blood orange sunsets.
After dressing to the sound of Mima’s clanging in the kitchen and the scent of coffee brewing, I sat at the dining table. I dipped a piece of stale Cuban bread into the café-con-leche she’d set there. “It needs sugar,” I said.
“You don’t need more sugar,” she said.
But I didn’t understand why. Sugar was the one thing on the island that wasn’t rationed.
I asked if she was going to my friend Raul’s house to watch the moon landing. His family had the only working television in the neighborhood.
“Maybe,” she said.
I’d dreamt about the moon landing even before I learned that the Americans were going to do it. Ever since I read Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, a book George had given me, I’d been imagining a spaceship just like the one in the book: a long, narrow, bullet-like rocket, slicing through the heavens.
Mima wasn’t much of a reader. Not much of a dreamer either. I think that was why she’d never thought of leaving Cuba, even though everyone else seemed to be doing so.
“What are they looking for up there, anyway?” she said. “We have enough to worry about right here.”