Papi moved the canoe fast. With him rowing they pushed out of the mangrove in minutes. He shoved the canoe between the branches of a clump of mangles and they walked close to the shore. They made the last bus leaving the Ecopark and stood together in the back pressed by the crowd. "Como si nada." Silvio whispered. He hung onto Papi's free hand. Inesita clutched his legs. Elba Luz tugged at his arm. "Estamos en mi casa." Silvio padre threw his head back to laugh. "¡Cuanto me alegro!"
Elba Luz stared at Silvio and then at Silvito. "Se ríen igual. Y tienen los mismos ojos."
Inesita shook Elbi's hand. "Y yo? Elbi?"
She studied her face. She didn't need to lie. She smoothed Inesita's curls that had escaped the tight pony tail. "Tu tambien tienes los ojos de tu Papi."
Elba Luz stared through the bus window. The sun plunged under the line where the sea and the sky kissed. "Ya es de noche. Ay Dios. Mami se va a volver loca."
Silvito's eyes grew big. "Perdóname. Ni por la mente me pasó. Yo le digo que me ponga el castigo a mi."
They walked in single file down the narrow sidewalk of the Calle Lucero, almost ran. Elba Luz pounded on the door. The Casa Rocio sign shook. Mami opened the door. She pulled Elba Luz inside. "Inés corre que traen a Silvio." Silvito and Inesita pulled their father in the door and had just gotten him past the areca when Ines reached them with Federico in her arms.
"!Un milagro! Como hicieron? Pudieron donde no pudo Don Limon."
Silvio took Federico in his arms. He knelt and Ines, Silvito, and Inesita knelt beside him arms all entwined, all of them kissing each other at once.
Elba Luz hugged Mami. "¿Y porque no esta aquí mi Papi?" They hugged tighter." Mami never answered this question. She only sighed.
They reached the big, long dining table in the comedor at the far end of the hall. Erotida set down a brown clay bowl she'd just refilled with black beans. Zoila set down a bowl of rice.
"Nos morimos de hambre." Elba Luz sat at her usual place next to Abi who'd returned from the kitchen with a bowl of huevos hervidos. Abi kissed her on the head. "¡Que susto nos dieron!
Elba studied Mami. Would she punish her? She whispered to Silvito. "El regaño lo cumples tu."
She knelt on her taburete. "Nos metimos a la base."
Mami screamed. "Como? Como se atreven?"
They told the story many times, first Elbi, then Inesita, and at last Silvito who always added about the first time he'd gone with Papi and how he'd learned the way to breach the Base. "Aquella vez fuimos a sacar a Juan, el pescador aquel que despues tuvo que irse p'al Pico."
Mami Ines looked at Silvio. They were sitting together on the kitchen side of the table very close, their taburetes pressed as close together as possible. Elba Luz saw the moment when Silvito saw his Mami looking at his Papi. She studied their faces and knew they were upset. But why? Abi said he wanted to write about this story for his newspaper. "Las noticias no descansan." They told the story again and he said something very fast Elba Luz didn't catch. He repeated the word "fugitivo" several times. Fugitivo had to be something that frightened the grownups, something bad. Mami Ines and Silvio and Silvito got quiet. For one moment the whole room went quiet.