Had he learned anything interesting at school today? What happened last night on that one show he liked so much? Could he come help her get down that book - she would hold the chair while he clambered. Teresa didn't ask him questions to make him talk, and she didn't give him a hard time when he only said a word or two in answer. But when he did say something, she listened, she really listened, so Little tried to say as much as he could.
Juan came back with the chicken. Teresa pulled the mac and cheese out of the oven. It wasn't homemade. She'd made it from a box, and had ordered Little all over the kitchen. Get that spoon - you watch it or I'll give you a beating! (Still smiling.) Just a spoonful of butter, just to slick it up. (And it was real butter, too. Little's Mama had never bought real butter before. When he took the rest of the stick back to the fridge, he licked the paper where Teresa couldn't see.) Now stir, child, while I sprinkle in the cheese. (He licked that paper, too.) They poured the mac and cheese into a dish and Teresa sprinkled some more cheese out of a bag on top, then they turned the oven up as hot as it would go until the cheese got orange and brown and crispy on the edges.
Juan talked about his day while they ate. Teresa laughed and asked questions. Little ate and ate, and Teresa didn't even ask, she put seconds on his plate when he still had a bite left of mac and cheese and two left of chicken. Juan got up once to fill up everyone's glasses, and when he came back he scuffed his knuckles over the back of Little's head.
They watched TV, some boring grown-up show. People in suits in a courtroom. Little let his eyes go soft, let his mind cool off like a pot moved off a hot burner. The one question Teresa hadn't asked was why he'd come over tonight. She knew - he'd had a fight with his Mama. The strange thing was, he sometimes looked forward to having a fight with his Mama, because then she'd want him to go. She'd be happy that he left. And then he could come over and visit with Teresa and Juan.
Juan got a call and left the room. Little licked his lips and tried talking three times before he got his mouth to work.
"I wish you was my Mama," he whispered.
He waited for Teresa to yell at him. Now why would you say something like that? Ain't that a terrible thing to say, you don't ever want to think nothing like that, Chiron. Your Mama loves you.
Teresa put her arm around Little's waist and hugged him close.