(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Sissy, a high-school senior, is living with her father in a rented farmhouse near a small town in Colorado, after moving there from Iowa after her mother ran away with her boyfriend to Los Angeles. Sissy is alone much of the time while her father, Rafer, roams the open land selling “Rain Cats,” giant circular sprinkler systems, to farmers. Sissy misses her mother, wonders what Los Angeles is like, and hates the place in which she lives. She has an affectionate relationship with her father, but it is not enough: “All spring in Wheaton, where she knows no one and nobody seems to be under forty anyway, Sissy has been lonely: all spring Rafer has been on the road.” When he comes home on weekends, he takes Sissy to shoot at bottles lined up in an arroyo. When he is away, Sissy roams the empty fields with her dog, Joe, and stares off into the thousand-mile space between herself and Los Angeles.

Once, while Sissy is riding her bike, a caravan of beat-up cars drives past her, filled with migrant Mexican farmworkers. She is astonished at this sudden burst of exotic vitality: “Sissy loves them for having appeared behind her, out of nowhere. The dusty dashes hold groves of plastic saints, and rosaries wag from the rearview mirrors. A child sucking on its fist pushes aside a pair of fluttering pantyhose and gazes out at her.” She knows that these migrants will probably stay near her town for a while and will not be welcomed by its white residents. Delighted by their sudden presence, she decides to pedal alongside one of the slow-moving cars. To her astonishment, the...

(The entire section is 645 words.)