We lingered in the street outside my brother's illegal basement apartment in Berkeley, my parents, my brother, and I. A palm tree flourished on the traffic island; its fronds, the dead ones, brushed the ground. I stood, my hand shading my eyes against the midmorning sun, looking at that palm tree, wishing I were back in Pasadena.

My father had popped open the trunk of the Chrysler and was handing my brother a bottle of wine from a wooden box. The folks must've liked the wine they'd bought a whole case. Late harvest. I could just imagine what it tasted like, syrupy, cloying.

"Here. Let me see." I reached to take the bottle from my brother's hand.

"You can't have that." Mom snatched at the air where I would've held the bottle.
As if perhaps she thought I might suck down the sweet wine then and there.
And rest under the beautiful palm tree like a wino.


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