Yo soy Elias. I think I´m 13 years old, but I don´t know because we don´t celebrate my birthday. I love soccer. I love mi mamá, although I don´t think she loves me sometimes. I have two sisters and a brother whose tongue hangs out the side of his mouth and he can´t speak so he can´t leave the house and mi mama calls him Mudito (Little Deaf One). I don´t like my sisters but I have to take care of them because mamá doesn´t.
When I finish with school in the morning, I go look for women with big bags. I offer to carry for them and sometimes they pay me. Then I can afford lunch. Or I pick up plastic bottles near the basketball court and sell them to recyclers for a few reales. Sometimes I buy myself una coca-cola. Once I bought mamá an ice cream, but she yelled at me for wasting money, so I don´t do that anymore.
After looking for money I go to the library to do homework. It´s so boring and I don´t see why I have to copy pages and pages of text books into my notebook. I don´t know why I need to learn if some day I´m just going to wind up a vago like mi papá. That´s what mamá says anyway.
I finish homework as fast as possible so I can do something more fun. Like soccer with the boys on the field. But sometimes there aren´t any games going on because someone has stolen the ball, so I hang out in the library.
The gringa librarian´s mom came to Nicaragua and made Valentine´s Day Cards with us. I don´t have friends or a girlfriend so I didn´t care about them, but I made one anyway because they had glitter pens and salvaje (savage cool) paper. But when I was going to leave the gringa approached me and told me that they were missing glitter pens.
I have taken things from the library before. One time I took a pencil. They have so many and I didn´t have one in the house. But I didn´t take the glitter pens. So I lifted up my shirt and emptied my pockets so she could see. She stared at my tattered jeans and the plastic bag I use to hold them up around my waist. Then she said sorry and let me go. Whatever.
I went back to the library a couple days ago for game day. They let us play games on Fridays. Most of them are missing pieces and I don´t know how to play the rest, but it´s something to do, so I go. I was going to borrow Monopoly but I saw they had new books on top of the cabinet. I don´t usually touch books, but one of them was about the 2010 World Cup. ¨SALVAJE!¨ I yelled. Then I forgot the gringa´s strict rules about voices in the library. She came up to me shushing but was smiling. She told me I could read it. I didn´t know we were allowed to touch the books.
I´ve never read a book for fun, but this was different. They had player bios and team stats. Then Melvin saw me reading it and came and joined me to read the Brazil chapter. I guess we forgot what time it was and the gringa never came to tell us to lower our voices because when she tapped us on the shoulder it was time to close the library. She was still smiling.
I still don´t like books. But if they´re about soccer, I guess they´re okay. Maybe I´ll go back to the library tomorrow. And learn the gringa´s name. And I wonder if they ever found those glitter pens.