Rust-tinged particles drifted through the air as Dolores walked home from Mesabi Primary School. She shuffled her feet, eyes trained on the tufts of grass sprouting from the sidewalk. Ants scurried away like the rats in the apartment above Father’s grocery store, where her family used to live. People have to eat, Father had said in the dark autumn months after the market crashed, even if they can’t pay. The bank took the store, and the family moved to a little shack on the outskirts of town. Years earlier, when Dolores was a baby, the entire city had been moved to accommodate the expanding Hall Mahoney Iron Mine. They’d loaded up all the buildings and transported them two miles south. They moved the town, and everything moved with it. If the city survived such a change, so could Dolores.
Dolores scuffled up the long driveway, brushed the persistent red dirt from her dress, and walked alongside the house toward the backyard. She ran her fingers across the side of the house, leaving a four-pronged trail on the wood siding, her hand cutting through the grit like the machines cut through town during the mine expansion. She walked into the backyard and found the door to the rabbit hutch open. Dolores sprinted toward the hutch. Rex wasn’t in there. She ran around the yard, scanned the bushes by the fence, and crawled around the flower box under the kitchen window. Dolores rushed inside to her mother, who was tending to a cauldron of stew on the stove. “Mama, mama, Rex is missing! The hutch is open. He’s gone!” Her mother looked down at her with a steely gaze. She exhaled and set down her wooden spoon.
“A family has to eat, cara mia,” she said, wiping the corner of her eye.