In my dream, we are driving so fast the car sprouts wings—giant, bony, feather-covered wings—and we are flying like gulls, steady, just above the surface of the glossy pavement. Everyone is laughing bubbles and confetti and the wind laces its fingers through our hair and streams it back and we can’t feel the cool air against our faces because it is so gentle that it cannot be felt.
But when I tell Beto about my dream, he laughs and says it’s finally official: I am one seriously fucked chica.
I go to slap his arm but he grabs my wrist before I even come close. He looks me in the eye, little glints of green sparkling at me, all playful, and says, “But you’re still my chica, you know. You’re always mine.” He’s grinning so it lights up his face like he’s in a contest with the sun and I can’t help but stroke his sideburns with my free hand and smile back. I start tripping kisses down his neck until he picks me up and takes me to the bed and we stay there, trying to get close, trying to get closer, in each other’s skin, all afternoon.
I work at Mattito’s, the one by El Dorado, trying to talk anyone who will listen into buying a dishwasher or a blender or a new television. The way I see it, appliances are a hard sell in a country where most people fill a plastic tub with soapy water and wash their dishes by hand or string their clothes out on a line to dry or have maids—because almost everyone does—to do these things for them. To my boss, Sr. Contreras, though, all of this means Panama is the perfect market for appliances because the only reason people do things by hand is that they don’t realize there’s an easier way out there, and an easier way is where I am supposed to come in.
I’m walking around, straightening the price tags on the dryers, when Beto calls me on his cell to tell me he’s scored some really premium stuff. His supplier gave him a tiny bag like some kind of year-end bonus.
“Oye, I’m at work,” I whisper into the phone. I dart my eyes around furtively and try to stand behind one of the refrigerators.
“Then don’t be at work,” Beto says.
I meet him at his apartment above a lingerie store on Avenida Central and I thank God for the millionth time that I know at least one person in this city who doesn’t still live with his parents. The mannequins in the window of the shop are pretty derelict, their wigs sliding off the sides of their bald heads, the bras ill fitting around their plastic breasts. Beto has names for them, though—Yasmine and Josefina—and usually whenever we walk by, he waves to them or asks them how things are going today or compliments them on maintaining such nice figures so I kind of think of them as real and I smile at them before I head upstairs.
Beto’s sitting on the floor reading the newspaper when I come in. Or else he’s just pretending to read it, which is the kind of thing he does sometimes so that people will think he’s smart when in reality he’s just looking at the ads for the department stores to see the models in their big underwear like bags up to their ribs. Viejo underwear, but he says he thinks it’s kind of hot.
“I knew you’d show,” he says after I go and kiss him on the head. He wraps his arms around my calves so that my knees buckle a little and I nearly fall on top of him.
“Only for an hour,” I tell him.
“Ba.” He nuzzles his face into my thighs and then pulls back. “I had a dream,” he says, looking up at me, “those washing machines grew legs and walked out of the store themselves and then they grew arms and knocked on people’s doors and begged for homes and the people asked where they were from and the mquinas told them Mattito’s and the people said, I will keep you and tomorrow I will take my money to Mattito’s and pay for you,’ and the washing machines were happy because now they were sold and they knew that meant you, who was their favorite person, would get a nice raise and you wouldn’t have to go back to work all day.” He laughs and how I love the sound of that laugh like a gurgling spring bubbling out through his mouth.
“Now who’s fucking loco for real?” I say, steadying myself with my knees against his shoulder and running my fingertips along the strands of his bristly dark hair.
My mama’s asleep on the couch when I get home that night, snoring like a lawnmower that just won’t start. She has a body like a big yam—everything fleshy and sweet—and I stand over her, looking, trying to imagine how my own body will turn into that one day. She tells me it’s going to happen, that eventually I’m going to blow up and fill out into a shape like her but I think that’s only if I have kids, which I’m not planning on doing. Beto and I have already talked about it.
My mama had four kids. Two died before they were even a few weeks in this world, one of them is another girl’s gone off to who knows where but I never knew her, and the other one is me. My papi’s in town, in some ghetto barrio somewhere, and I see him out sometimes but he never gets around to acting like my father so I’ve learned finally to stop trying to act like his daughter. The last time was at a restaurant where Beto and I went for chicken and he was inside at the bar watching a horse race on TV. He nodded and gave a little wave when he saw us but it was in a way that made me know he didn’t want me to come over or anything. He was with some other hombres. So the whole night Beto and I sat out on the patio eating our chicken and I watched my papi’s back through the window and tried to will myself into thinking of him as any old man with a skinny hunch and a chin pointy as a spade and graying hair. Beto kept saying the whole situation was shit. But really, I told him, it wasn’t so bad. There’s two ways you can go in this life: either a whole family, twenty people or whatever, stick together and live all in one house like a big pod or else everyone’s spread all over, like pussy willow seeds, and you each replant yourself and make a new life on your own. One’s not better than the other, I don’t think, but they each require certain adjustments.
Sr. Contreras informs me we haven’t sold a single appliance in seventeen days. I remind him about the electric toothbrush and the water filtration system. He says both of those were to Americans so it doesn’t count. The executives at the department store headquarters are getting nervous and making threats about getting rid of the appliances department in our location.
“Is it really just us?” I ask.
I can tell Sr. Contreras wants to say yes. He is a roly-poly man with greasy hair that he combs straight back. The only clothes I’ve ever seen him wearing are a tan suit paired with a lemon-yellow shirt and I wonder sometimes whether he squeezed out of his mother in that suit and whether he will die in it. But right now I can tell he wants to say yes because that would mean it was really just my fault and I think he thinks that might scare me into working harder. But he sighs finally and shakes his head.
“No person wants to buy appliances,” he says as if he were the one who invented appliances and is taking it as a personal affront.
It’s like this all over the city. A few months ago two new highways opened here. They’re a big joke, though, and everyone knows it. The south highway runs through the city and is supposed to ease up traffic everywhere else only it doesn’t go exactly where anyone needs to go and it costs a whole $3.00 to even drive on the thing in the first place. Who’s going to pay to ride on a stupid highway when the other roads are free? The north highway costs the same and was built mostly to connect the airport to the city, so it was pretty obvious from the beginning that it was mostly for the tourists. To us that highway was like a rejection, like a mother shepherding her children quickly past the sight of a dead dog. The highway stretched for miles through nothing. On the old route, you would have seen the billboards for Café Duran and Daewoo and Adidas and you would have seen dirty people at ramshackle bus stops and walking the streets with shopping carts. You would have seen stray cats darting like tadpoles over broken streets and dusty, unpaved shoulders. You would have heard corrugated metal gates grinding down at the end of the day and horns bleating their impatience and men whooping at the putas walking by. You would have seen real life here. But I guess real life is often unsightly so they built a highway straight into the heart of the city to keep visitors away from what’s real, away from the heart of us. The speed limit on both is an insane 65 miles an hour, a speed unheard of in a country where being in a car means either being mired in a sea of traffic or navigating through small dirt roads. The very thought of shooting around in a car that fast scares the shit out of everyone. But it’s all very modern, you know. And it goes basically unused.
The highway, appliances. They’re the same thing, I want to tell him. The people here, it’s not that they’re not ready for these things, they just don’t want them.
When I was seven my papi took me out driving. We were out in the country, in El Rompio, where the dark green plants on the side of the road grew up and swayed over us like ballerina arms and he put me on his lap in the driver’s seat and let me steer the car down a dusty stretch while he worked the pedals. I don’t know why he was with us then or why my mama and I were in El Rompio in the first place and I’ve never bothered to ask mostly because my mama gets a sadness in her bones that spreads like moss anytime someone mentions him, but it happened. I remember it so well because that was the last time I touched him. My whole self was just right up on him and his arms were around my waist and I could feel his breath against my ear when he told me to turn more or to hold on tighter. He had this aftershave that smelled like cinnamon milk, something I don’t know what it was, but for a long time after that I would go to drugstores all over the city, twisting caps off aftershave bottles, trying to find that smell again. My mother was back at a roadside bodega and I knew she was probably standing there wringing her hands praying we didn’t crash or that we didn’t drive off straight into the sea. And I loved that feeling, me and my papi together like bandidos, bumping over the gravel in the scorching midday sun, shredding up the earth beneath us as we went. Most of memory might be like water, but some things are like wood—so solidly there, you can feel them and smell them and wrap your hands around them and for a hundred years, they will never go away.
I spend a long time getting ready in the morning. I’m the kind of girl who walks down the street and gets stared at as much as possible without actually being whistled at. Beto’s all, Why do you care, Marisol? You want me to whistle at you? I’ll whistle at you until your fucking ears fall off your fucking head. And even though I can see his point and I’m for real not trying to pick up other guys, I just think it might be nice to be the kind of girl who could. Anyway, my mama, who doesn’t much like Beto since he has no job to speak of and since he doesn’t live with his family, which she says shows a lot of disrespect and a lot of nerve, she’s the one always buying me lipsticks and eyeshadows from the Super 99 and leaving them on my bed. She gets seriously wrapped up in those commercials that advertise a product to give you perfect skin or lashes that extend all the way to the moon. “You’re so young,” she says. “You have to take advantage before you turn into an old woman.”
“You still look good,” I tell her but she sweeps the words with her hand in the air.
“You still have time to get a man,” she says.
“I have one.”
“You have a cabrón.”
“Mama!” I wail.
We’re getting in this fight all the time. And whenever we do, it sends me straight to Beto.
We’ve got a customer walking around in those braided Italian loafers, his arms crossed; he’s looking very serious at one of our top-of-the-line refrigerators. It’s got an ice maker, which is really the big selling point because ice has no real fighting chance against Panamanian heat and at every party you always have to buy big bags of it and bang them against the floor until the ice inside crumbles into little cubes that you can slide into your guests’ glasses. An ice maker would be a sweet-ass savior to someone who could afford it.
Sr. Contreras is perched in a loft-like area above the store where he’s always sorting things like receipts and inventory sheets. There are tilted mirrors all around the store so that from where he stands, he can see what’s going on at any moment. He’s looking down at me now like he’s about to start throwing things at me if I don’t pounce on this customer soon so I walk over very casually and ask if he needs help with anything.
“How much do you charge for delivery?” the guy asks and I have a hard time swallowing for a second because if the hombre is asking about delivery already, this is some serious shit.
“Twenty-five dollars,” I tell him and he nods.
There’s some more back and forth on the details, I dutifully point out the ice maker, and eventually he’s ready to sign for a new refrigerator. It’s almost too easy.
And then, because I’m on some kind of real high about it, I suggest that maybe he wants to look at a new dryer. I don’t know anyone on the planet who actually owns a dryer but I’m feeling like maybe today is my lucky day so why not ride it out?
The guy looks at me, smirking, and says, “Have you ever heard of the sun?”
He starts laughing and I pray to God that to Sr. Contreras it looks like we’re having a good time down here.
“I just thought—” I start.
“You know what? Forget all of it,” he says. “I don’t need a refrigerator like I don’t need a dryer.”
And then that’s it. He’s out of there.
That night Beto and I make it good. It’s always good but this time it’s really fenomenal. It’s impossibly hot in his apartment so we decide to take a cold shower together. We try a little bit in the shower but we keep slipping and not being able to find a good spot so eventually we get out, still streaming wet, and go to the bed. Beto runs on his toes out to the other room to get the fan. When he plugs it in he aims it toward us and sets it on high. So for a little while I’m wet and the fan is just blasting us and I have this image of beads of water scampering over my skin; they lose their shape and splay out over my shoulders and my back and my calves, trying to outrun the wind. In their wake, they leave me covered with goosebumps and it’s this combination, I think—of Beto’s fingers stroking in between my thighs and the thrill of that sharp coolness pricking at my skin—that sends me over in a way I’ve never experienced before.
Afterwards, we’re lying on the damp sheet and staring at the stucco ceiling together. The best thing about Beto’s apartment, besides the fact that it’s his, is that the streets around here have all been made into pedestrian walkways so it stays close to quiet most of the time. Tonight is no exception. We lie there for so long without speaking or moving that I wonder if Beto has fallen asleep. He often does and I always cover him with a sheet so that the mosquitoes don’t get to him in the night and then I kiss him and get up quietly and leave because my mama doesn’t let me stay over. But now I turn my head just in time to see his hand, which has been resting on his chest, move as he raises his fingers to his nose.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“I can smell you,” he says. He holds his fingers there and breathes in, closing his eyes and smiling, until finally his hand drops away.
Sometimes, at night, I go out walking. This is long after the constellation of neon signs throughout the city has blinked out in favor of darkness but before the bread shops start their lonely business of rolling out dough in the early half-light of morning. No one knows I go, or maybe they do and they don’t mention it, but I do it because it’s the time that I feel the most alone in the world but it’s also the time I feel most intimately connected to it. Like the hour confers some kind of clarity of vision in which everything appears to me in its true, naked state, unencumbered by people or artifice or ostentation and everything in this city makes sense to me, at least for a little while.
I’m just past a church when I see him. He’s sitting on the arm of a bench, breaking seeds with his teeth and eating whatever’s inside. A plastic bag hangs from one wrist. It’s the strangest feeling whenever I see him—like seeing the love of your life, the one who left you, when you’re just out doing errands, trying to keep up with the business of the everyday. You half want to run and jump on them and bury your face in their neck and hold on forever and you half want to turn away, shielding your face.
I’m about to walk closer when he sees me and yells out, “Tienes plata para un viejo?”
I think he doesn’t recognize me and I wonder if he’s drunk.
He yells out, Please, any money I can spare, and we’re staring at each other under the moon but to him I’m just anybody.
I turn around finally and walk back the way I came.
A few more weeks and Sr. Contreras tells me it’s over. I’m secretly relieved to hear this because it means no more tirelessly pushing things on people that they don’t really need. I tried to see it from his perspective but this is a country that holds fiercely to tradition, holds on with both hands, and little me at Mattito’s was not going to change that.
But Sr. Contreras is just staring at me now. We’re up in his loft above the store and so finally I say, “Can I be moved to cosmetics?” and I’m thinking how much my mama would love that because I’d probably get some kind of serious discount but Sr. Contreras is still just staring at me with his small eyes and it’s then I know I’m not getting it. It’s not just that I’m being transferred to another department or something. I feel like my head’s made out of cement when I realize what’s happening.
“I’m sorry, Marisol,” he says but he’s not really and both of us know it. “It’s a bad time,” he tells me.
“It’s a bad country,” I say. “Keep trying for the next fifty years. You’ll see. It will always be a bad time here.”
He shrugs. “Buena suerte,” he says.
Beto’s trying to tell me it’s no big deal.
“You’ll get something else,” he says. He’s stoned and glassy, like a gigantic talking marble and he warbles on and on about how I was better than that job and about how Sr. Contreras is a fucking payaso and whatever.
Finally I tell him I don’t want to discuss it anymore.
A bowl of stale gumdrops sits on the coffee table and from where he lies on the couch, Beto drops his hand in like a crane and starts rifling through them.
After a while, I say, “Did I tell you that the other night I saw my papi?”
“You shouldn’t call him that,” he cautions. “You should call him by his first name, you know.”
“He asked me for money.”
“Jesus. And did you tell him to fuck off?”
I don’t say anything at first. Just look around the room at the plastic furniture and the white curlicue bars outside the windows and the gold refrigerator humming in the kitchen. Beto’s got a few plants on the sill in there but one of them is dying. He gets really pissed about it, too.
“How’s your baby plant?” I ask. Beto pulls his hand out of the gumdrops and shakes the sugar from his fingertips.
“Whatever,” he says, and leans his head back against the couch, the plastic squeaking underneath him.
When I get home, my mama is watching Sabado Gigante in her nightgown. The television is doing a light show on her face. As soon as she sees me she gets up and puts her hands on my shoulders.
“What happened to you?” she asks. Her mascara is oily under her eyes and her hair is flat against the back of her head where she’s been resting it while she watched TV.
“How do you know?” I say although she always knows. She has intuitions in her bones that she can’t ignore.
She looks at me sadly. “Mari,” she says, as though she wants to say something more and as though that says it all.
“Sr. Contreras said he was sorry, though,” I tell her. “I’ll find something else.”
She shakes her head. “There’s something else, hija.” I wonder for a second if she can tell I’m high and I concentrate to make sure it seems like I’m on earth while I’m talking to her but then she drops her hands to my stomach and holds them there. “It’s in here,” she whispers.
She looks at me and shakes her head and sighs.
There’s no way I’m going to tell Beto. I’m going to lose it as easily as it came, like water washing through my legs, it will be gone as if there was never anything there at all. My mama thinks that’s wrong on both counts. She stopped talking to me as soon as I said it. I would come to the kitchen table in the mornings to have some bread and some piña and I tried: How did you sleep last night, Mama? What are you doing today? Do you want me to get you anything at the store? But she moved around, clearing the dishes from the table, rolling the top of the brown paper bag closed so that the bread would stay fresh, acting as though I didn’t exist, like I was a ghost she couldn’t see.
I broke a plate once. I had just pulled it from the cabinet and I saw her there, reading her astrology booklet at the table. I let the plate go and watched it shatter, a flower blooming in fast forward, until all the pieces settled on the floor around my feet. My mama didn’t flinch.
“Mama!” I screamed. “You don’t even like Beto! What kind of father do you think he would be?”
Beto didn’t want children, but still I thought he would be a good father. That wasn’t the point, though. I just wanted her to talk to me, to argue with me, something.
She started rubbing small circles into her temples, her elbows on the kitchen table. She closed her eyes. I pulled four more dishes from the cabinet, all at once, and let them drop. One shard caught the side of my foot and sent a hairline of blood trickling down. She didn’t look up until I grabbed a blue teacup—how could she have known that’s the one I seized?—and was about to smash it, too. The sun was pressing through the windows like gauze and she opened her eyes, folded her hands in her lap and said, “Your father gave that cup to me.” I felt my hand tighten around the cup. She looked straight at me without blinking.
“He wasn’t a good father. I always knew he wouldn’t be. But everything he’s given me, I’ve kept.” The wrinkles at the corner of her mouth made it look like she was frowning and her dark hair was pulled back into the tiniest ponytail, held there by a swarm of bobby pins. She looked so severe then.
There wasn’t anything decent to say. I stepped over the chunks and slivers of broken plates and walked out.
In the depth of the night, the giant angular rocks along Avenida Balboa seem to stand guard over our city. My mama told me once there used to be a section of land that extended out over the bay where she and Papi would park. It’s hard to imagine them like that, based on the people I know now, but when she told me about it her face glowed with the embers of nostalgia and joy.
I’ve climbed over the rails and am standing on one of the rocks, the whole city behind me and the ocean and the rest of the world in front of me. I wonder what happened to that piece of land and think that even if the water swallowed it, there is still happiness that soaked into its dirt and even if my mama or I can’t stand on it now or touch it, it’s still somewhere. Sometimes I think that’s true: that every emotion gets caught in the fabric of the earth and even if it moves away from you and you can’t find it anymore, it will always exist.
After another hour or so, I’m finally growing tired. On my way back to my house, I take a turn and walk to the same church where I saw my papi nights before, expecting him to be on the bench again, gnawing at his seeds. I creep around over the soft grass, looking for him. I don’t know why because it’s not like I’d have anything to say even if I found him. But he’s not there anyway. He’s nowhere around. And I start wondering if I really saw him at all the last time or whether he was just something I wanted to see. I feel a little bit crazy thinking things like that but it’s just a night-haze.
And then again, maybe people and things are the same as emotions: even when you can’t see them or feel them or be with them, and even when they have died and even before they are born, they still exist somewhere—far away or close—they’re always somewhere. Maybe nothing in the world is ever truly lost, I think. And then I snort a soft laugh. I need to get to bed. If Beto heard me saying stuff like that he’d say, “No, Marisol, some things are lost. Like your brain, you know.”
A few weeks later when I go to Beto’s, Yasmine and Josefina are totally nude and I almost want to knock them out for their perfect bodies. This is how I feel these days. I haven’t been eating anything except soda crackers for a week because pretty soon, I think, my empty stomach’s going to set it loose, the thing inside me.
In his apartment, Beto says he might have found me a job.
“Is it legal?” I ask.
He looks wounded. I know the look—just a flash across his face. But he would never admit it.
“Forget it,” he says.
I know I should apologize and ask him what the job is. My mama and I are going to run out of money in a few more weeks and I don’t want her to have to find work. But I stay quiet. Beto says I seem in a bad mood but I just shrug. I go over and finger his baby plant, drooping over the side of its pot.
“Tu eres mi vida, Marisol,” he says, so kindly, so sweetly. I love when he tells me that, that I’m his life, and I know he’s trying to soften the harshness of a few seconds ago. He’s always the one to come to me first. He wants me to smile but instead, I nearly start crying at the sound of it, the tears sliding forward behind my eyes like the ocean skating up onto the sand.
“Do you want to tell me something?” he asks. He’s wearing a Pepsi T-shirt and cargo shorts and his old brown chancletas.
“No.” I walk past him into the bathroom. I sit on the toilet for a while, waiting to see if anything happens but nothing does.
When I come out I know he thinks I’ve been crying in there because he’s all, No reason to be depressed and whatever. Then he pulls a little log of bills from his pocket. “This will make you feel better,” he says, holding it up proudly.
“You did all that today?”
“School’s out, remember? No one’s watching around the playgrounds anymore. Plus, I had some suckers today. I jacked up the price a little on them.”
I stare at the roll from the top down and it looks like the whorl of a thumbprint.
“What are we going to do with it?” I ask.
“I think,” he says, grabbing me around the waist, “we should go out and cheer you the fuck up.”
The club is two stories, though the second floor is only a balcony rimming the walls so anyone dancing up there can see straight down to the first floor, which is covered like ants on a piece of candy.
Beto offers to buy me a drink.
“Yeah,” I say, “the strongest thing you can think of.”
“That’s my girl,” he says, grinning. “We’re going to have a good night, Marisol.”
I watch him fight his way though about eight hundred people before he gets to the bar. He orders and while he’s waiting for our drinks, a long-legged girl comes and puts her hand on his back. He nods at her and they exchange a few words, but she leaves after a minute.
“Who was that?” I ask when he returns, handing me a drink.
“I got you whisky with ice,” he shouts into my ear.
“Who was that chica?” I shout back.
He shrugs. “Some puta. She wanted to know if I had any weed.”
We go out onto the dance floor for a little while and it feels good, moving with him like that, our bodies bouncing off and around each other like electrons in our own charged field. I have on a short skirt and an electric blue halter top and sandals that make me two inches taller. I did my hair as a mix of stick-straight pieces and spiraled pieces so it looks like some weird sort of ivy creeping down my back. Beto rests his hand on the top curve of my ass and he keeps nuzzling his face in my neck. I send him for as many drinks as I can get down, trying to flood myself with poison, trying to drown it.
It’s two in the morning when I feel a wetness on my thighs. I push off Beto and look down at his pants—his new khaki pants with a brown-red bloom a little above the knee.
“Que pasó?” he yells.
I don’t want to answer that question so I turn and run and stumble to the bathroom. It seems to take hours before I finally get there and push my way into a stall. Ribbons of toilet paper are strewn over the floor and some putrid stench has found its home in there. I lower myself onto the toilet and sit there for a long time, long enough until I’m sure it’s washed away, like a whole week-long period all at once and when it stops I wipe my fingers along the round inside of my thigh and hold them up under the fluorescent lights. I don’t know what I think I’ll see. It just looks like blood, like watery rust. That it looks so normal in a small way makes me relieved but at the same moment something else knocks into my lungs and something balls up like dough in my stomach and I start to feel a nausea stalking through my body. I sit still and concentrate on breathing long enough to let it pass.
After I clean myself up and am back on the dance floor, I find Beto and tell him we have to go.
“What the fuck’s wrong with you? You see what you did to me? You got your period or something?” He’s pointing to his pants.
“We have to go,” I say again and turn from him quick, focusing my eyes on the door on the other side of the club to keep myself from crying.
In the car, once we pay at the tollbooth, we roll the windows down. The air smells sweet, like mangoes and garbage, and it hangs in the air like an unsure visitor. We take the highway out past the airport and for a long time, neither one of us speaks. We’re going forty or so and I watch out the window as the trees slip past. We have the road to ourselves and after a while I tell him to go faster.
I can feel Beto look at me though the dark. “Would that make you happy?” he asks.
“Go as fast as you can,” I say.
I want it to be like my dream. I want us to just take off from this world, to be careening silently over everything, to be carried by the veins of the wind. The car roars a little and Beto starts laughing. My hair whips like a fire around my head and somewhere in all this, the trees I’ve been staring at stop looking like trees—it’s just a wash of black velvet green—and instead I see it all: my papi buying me a Popsicle dipped in milk when I was young; my mama, round and heavy, weeping as she hung the laundry out to dry, using the sheets to dab her eyes; the first time I met Beto, holding a poster for a shoe store, on Avenida Central; the banana leaves brushing the wall behind our house in a storm; my pale blue dress years ago for my quince años; the tiniest round shape of the baby that died in me. But then the same thought comes to me again: maybe nothing is ever really lost. Even if you can’t find it, even if you can’t hold it in your thin, tired arms, it’s always somewhere. The wind rushes against me like the sound of waves and I think, when we stop, I will tell Beto. Until then, we just drive.