“What do you know of trees and planting?” Romero toe-tapped a black plastic bucket.
“More than you. Besides, how hard can it be. Everything grows on this island.”
“Then, what are you waiting for?”
Rosaline pushed her husband out of the way and lowered the tray of guava seedlings into the back of the beat-up Subaru on loan from the government’s relief effort. “Nothing,” she said. She back-handed the hair from her face, the rough work gloves scratching at her forehead. “Well, not nothing. A little help from you would be nice.”
She bent to fetch the next tray and Romero caught her shoulder. “I’ll get that, it looks heavy.”
Rosaline shook off his hand. “I don’t want no guilt-help. You help honest or go back to your beer and buddies.”
“You know I ain’t got no time for my compañeros. All this clean-up and repair.” He started for the tray but she hipped him out of the way.
“Then go. Go back to your clean-up.” She hefted the heavy tray full of foot-tall avocado trees, their round seeds sitting half out of the dirt, dark-green stems shooting up to dark-green leaves.
“You want my help. You don’t want my help. Rosie, pick one. I ain’t got time to figure you out today. You hear another storm’s coming?” Romero watched her struggle and hurried to take the flat from her hands. She didn’t object.
“Puerto Rico is such a pretty place. But with all these hurricanes…”
“They abandoned us, you know. The U.S. gave us the finger. Screw you Puerto Rico, you ain’t no state, anyway.” He shook the tray. The avocado seedlings trembled.
“Easy with those, Romey. They’re delicate.”
“What? Oh, yeah. Sorry.” Romero loaded the tray and waved his hand. “You got any plantain trees in this mess?”
Rosaline sniffed. “Some tamarind, some lemon. No plantain.” Rosaline wandered among the seedlings arrayed by type. Other relief workers had come and taken flats out into the hills and neighborhoods. The reforesting of the island had been Rosaline’s idea. It had taken nearly half a year to petition for funding and gather the seedlings from neighboring islands. Some even came from the mainland. “Oh, here we are. I missed these, a few plantains from Florida.”
“Cool. Let’s add those to this trip. I know a place that will be perfecto.”
“You gonna help me then, cabroñ?” Rosaline rested her head on Romero’s shoulder, its weight light, her hair tickling his ear.
“I’ll help you today, but tomorrow…”
“Gracias, mi amor.”
“I’m driving.” Romero took the wheel.
“You drive loco, like a mad man.” She closed the hatch on the Subaru. “OK, but go slow, the baby, he’s been making me sick.”
“He, she, only God knows.”