Rosemarie, Ro Ro, is a mentally challenged woman who jumps rope with the neighborhood girls. I love the way the narrator explains Ro Ro's age. "But Ro Ro likes to hang around with the kids even though she's old. When my big brother was a kid, Ro Ro played with him and his friends. Then she played with my big sister and her friends. Next, when my big sister and her friends went to high school and got jobs, Ro Ro started to play with me and my friends." They accommodate her and appreciate her as she is. The strength of this story is the narrator's voice; it's young and consistent and believable. The fine line between the narrator understanding what is going on and still being barely naive is wonderfully handled. The way the neighborhood handles George is also conveyed in a believable way watching out for each other and Zeke's giving money to Ro Ro so that she can buy ice cream is sweet. I liked the story a lot and some aspects of it reminded me of my own childhood neighborhood dynamics and having recently walked through that neighborhood in NYC made me wish I'd seen kids jump roping there on that hot, sunny day.
"Steady Ender" is in the current issue of Carve magazine, winter 2015. René Houtrides is a faculty member at Juilliard.