Erica's Garden (3)
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before I go,” he said.

She shook her head.

Manny understood. “I’m going to check on Cynthia,” he muttered. As he descended up the stairs, a feeling of dread came over him as he tried to anticipate what she might say to him. He hated to leave Ms. Singer alone with her, but this was the only time she could come. In two months she had barely spoken a word to her, but Ms. Singer was cordial, never mentioning the slight. Still, it shamed him. After all, she was only trying to help, right?

She watched as Erica played on her knees in the yard, from the upstairs bedroom window as she often did. Cynthia Alverez was a woman of striking physical appearance; the jet black hair hung down past her shoulders in silky strands like dark drapes, covering the even darker window...

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