To look at the world through the eyes of a poor man was distinctly different than seeing the same world through the eyes of the rich. Joe supposed that in the world he lived in, it didn't matter a whit if you were poor or well-to-do. Only the very rich had a variation of food, had more substance in their soups and stews than water, had more in general—more clothes, more freedom, more laughter.
Ellen shifted in her place across the room. Her sleeves were rolled up, and sweat poured off of her face as she stirred a large pot of laundry.
"At least there still water," she'd said to him, once, expression neither happy nor sad; she was simply aware.
Neither of them ...view middle of the document...
The rest of the world didn't matter in the end.
They sat down to supper late in the evening.
Buttered bread and a thin soup.
"American recipe," Ellen said to him, pouring the soup over his roughly-cut piece of bread. "But we American, now."
They ate in silence, ignoring the sounds from the outside world that pierced through the walls of the building they lived in before invading their apartment. Lost in a world that existed neither in America nor in their country of origin, but somewhere in between, they savored the taste of the food on their tongues, knowing as they ate it that the parents on the other side of the wall gave all of their food to their three young children. The same children played stickball in the street below, and offered to help Ellen hang her laundry, and cheerfully greeted Joe each afternoon when he passed them by the main doors.
In the back of their minds, they wondered how long the parents could keep it up, how long it would be until the children were going without, how long it would be until they themselves were boiling their shoes.
"They are cutting my pay," Ellen finally said, shattering the silence with his soft voice.
"Cut? Snip-snip?" She made a cutting motion with her fingers.
"Lowering my pay," he tried instead. "I will get less money."