Borrowed Sled (Maximo, Paco, Mirta)

The three children balanced on the window ledge. They anticipated the look on Paco and Mirta's mother's face if she came into the room right then. One by one they jumped out, first Paco, then Mirta, and at last Maximo. Their small bodies thudded, muffled by the snow piled up in the long alley by the side of the tall brick building. Maximo couldn't believe this place, the famous City. In Coral there were no houses stacked on top of other houses but here in the City where his Tia Juanita and his cousins lived, there were houses on top of houses.
"Mami didn't see us." Mirta looked at her cousin from la isla. "Mami no nos vio."
Paco pulled the sled from behind the garbage cans where the three had hidden it after Paco and Maximo had gone to the alley of the building next door to borrow it. Maximo had wanted to know who they had to ask for the sled and Paco had said. "Callate la boca."
On the sidewalk they set off at a run to Moon Park. It was March but last night it had gotten very cold and the sky had spilled down lots of snow which Maximo had never seen before, except for that time the alcalde de Coral had dumped snow onto the plaza from a helicopter so that the children of Coral could have snow just like the City children did. Today was the Moon Festival that happened in Moon Park every Spring and was the reason Maximo had been sent to the City on the Ferry by himself. Tia Juanita was saying that even with the snow, the festival was going to happen.
As they ran Paco dragged the sled with a string. It bumped and clattered. As they got closer to the park Maximo saw small figures sliding down the huge, white hill. He shivered. Paco had made him wear two sweaters, two pairs of socks and Mirta's old red snow boots, really for a girl. Even with all those clothes Maximo shook. He trotted after Paco and Mirta up the Moon Park path almost hidden by the crowd of women, dressed up like a parade in long white clothes. They waved big red fans, like abuela's but much bigger, bright red. Who would need a fan in the snow? When would he get to touch the snow? Maximo sank his boot into the snow piled high along the path. It was soft and along the edges it was hard and when he stepped on it, it crunched. He saw Paco running back down the hill. He yanked on his arm. "You'd better not get lost. Mami me mata." Maximo let himself be pulled to the top of the hill where Mirta was lying on her belly on the sled. Her brown cheeks were bright pink and she'd pulled her red hat tight over her short black curls that Maximo had watched her cut herself last night. His City primos were allowed to do anything. Maximo stood at the top of the hill and watched Mirta send her body down the hill. His heart was jumping in his chest. He saw Mirta almost running up the path with the sled behind her.
"Now you." Maximo did what he'd seen Mirta do. He lay on the sled face down. Paco showed him how to hold onto the sides and shoved him hard.
Was this flying? After a few seconds Maximo forgot to be afraid. The thrill of speed and wind was even better than sliding down the wet rocks in the aguas blancas section of the Guacabon, high up in El Pico. He forgot to be cold. He could barely stand to wait between turns, jumping up and down on the top of the hill where the women in white with the big red fans were doing their Moon Festival dancing. Dancing con este frio!
Maximo went down dozens of times. Mirta cupped his face. "Your lips are purple." She repeated. "Tienes los labios morados."
Just then Mami, Tia Juanita, appeared. They all saw her short, rounded figure approaching, weaving through the dancers. In that very moment a hand reached them from behind. Three boys grabbed Paco. The tall one kicked at his belly and missed. The short one tried to grab him from the side. The chubby one reached for Paco's head, grabbed him, yanked the sled away. "That's my sled." Paco head butted the tall boy. He turned and head butted the small one. Maximo stared, not able to move. Mirta grabbed at the boy who'd grabbed the sled.
In that moment Mami reached them, screaming. "Diantres Muchachos atrevidos. What will you do next?"
The minute he heard Mami's voice Paco stood still. The three boys rescued their stolen sled.
As they walked down the hill following Mami Maximo tugged on Paco's sleeve. "I know what you're about to say." Paco put his finger to his lips. "Callate la boca."
Maximo nodded.