"Se acabo la fiesta." Inesita muttered under her breath as Mami Ines led her to their bedroom in the front of the house. She lay down and fell asleep. Her Mami took off her shoes. Elba Luz and Silvito lay beside her. The Mamis kissed the children good night. The two women stood by the door between the children's room and the front room where Papi Silvio was already stretched out on the big double bed with Federico curled up against him. Inesita fell asleep in seconds. Elba Luz and Silvito stared into each other's eyes in the darkness and listened to the women whisper, embrace, and part.
Elba Luz clutched Silvito's shoulder and whispered in his ear. "Tenemos que levantarnos bien temprano para que nos lleven cuando vayan a donde Don LImon." Silvito nodded as his eyelids melted down over his eyes. Elba Luz stared at the ceiling listening to her two friends breathe. First Silvito was exhaling as Inesita inhaled and then after a few minutes they were both inhaling and exhaling the same way. She let her own breathing match theirs. "Un trio de alientos." She was startled by her own whisper.
An alboroto in the hallway woke Elba Luz from a dream. She held on to one image alone: she was swimming in the mangle in black night as the voice reached her. It was a voice she would know in the deepest water and the darkest night.
"Papi, Papi, Papi." She jumped out of her bed. Silvito and Inesita turned over and went on sleeping. She ran into the hallway and followed the voices to Mami's room.
"Papi, Papi, Papi." He and Mami sat on the side of the double bed. Elba Luz ran and jumped into Papi's lap. She clung to him and kissed his curly beard. He smelled of wood fires and pine.
Papi pointed to a small yellow suitcase, the kind with soft sides, the size of Mami's neceser where she kept her lipsticks and face cream and eyebrow pencil. "Es para ti." She jumped down from his lap, reached the bag, and knelt beside it. "Para mi?" He got up and sat cross legged beside her on the floor. "Abrelo." She tugged at the zipper but it was stuck. He opened it part way. "Elbi mi nina, abrelo tu." She tugged the zipper open all the way. She could see yellow fur. She touched it. "Que suave." The fur moved. The fur was breathing. Papi helped her reach into the bag.
"Suave, suave," Papi said.
She guessed but she was afraid to believe it, afraid to say. But she guessed. Slowly, together, their hands eased out a little puppy, half asleep. The puppy raised her head, opened sleepy brown eyes. Elba Luz put her face into the fur and sniffed the puppy smell like coffee grounds.
She held the puppy in her arms and carried her (she was a girl puppy) over to the bed. Papi lay her down in the middle and let her hold the puppy. She lay there halfway between sleep and waking. Mami and Papi lay alongside her and talked and talked.
Was she dreaming? Did Papi really come home? Did he really bring her a beautiful brown yellow pup? Did she really hear them saying that he'd come to take Silvio to El Pico with the guerrilleros and that they must leave before sunrise?
The only reason she knew she hadn't dreamt all of this, even Papi, was because she woke up in Mami's bed and the little pup was curled up beside her.