He visited her most weekends. He often left the sleepy college dorm around 7 on Fridays. “Will be spending the weekend in Harrisburg” was all the explanation his roommate needed, who would nod accordingly, hail him away and then thank his stars for a few days of fresh air.
A few minutes before he arrived at the house, he sent her a text message. She had told him not to call. She said the walls were thin, and everyone would be asleep. So, there was no need to risk rousing them when they had to be up early to open up shop. But he was always afraid that she would be asleep too. Then he would have to spend the night on the empty crates that were stacked in front of the house, or in the seat of the forklift that her brother offloaded deliveries with.
In the morning he would go out for breakfast with her nephew, who was only a year younger than him, while she crunched numbers and wrote receipts to customers at the office downstairs. Then he would return to the house and sleep in her room. Or he could watch TV, or read her sad attempts at poetry, or play chess by himself – anything to avoid going out and running into her mom, whose sideways glances he wasn’t sure what to make of.