Immediately after the events of the last chapter, Sam and Liz walk down Bedford Park Boulevard late at night. They spend their first night sleeping in the park by the New York Botanical Garden.
At times, Sam and Liz have to sleep outside in the city of New York—a dangerous thing to do in the Bronx in the early 1990s.
The next morning, Liz and Sam go to Bobby’s house. Bobby lets them inside and tells them to be out by three-thirty, when his mother gets home. The girls shower and nap. They talk about moving out to California sometime soon. In the meantime, Carlos promises to stick with them until his “money came through.”
For the most part, Sam and Liz manage to persuade their many friends to let them sleep over, so that they don’t have to spend the night in parks. Carlos’s insistence on his coming inheritance starts to seem increasingly suspicious.
Liz and Sam spend their nights in the Village (a neighborhood in Manhattan). Sometimes they steal food from diners and sometimes they ask strangers for money. Carlos introduces the girls to people in the Village, who give them food and advice for free. However, Liz notices that many of Carlos’s friends are beautiful women, and the more beautiful they are, the less likely Carlos is to introduce them to her.
Liz and Sam spend time in the New York Public Library, and Liz enjoys reading the books. She sleeps in friends’ apartments. However, some of her friendships become strained when her friends realize that she only wants to hang out when she needs a place to sleep.
Liz continues to show signs of great intelligence: she reads, even if she doesn’t go to her English classes. But she also relies too heavily on her friends, showing that she’s still largely dependent on others for her food and shelter.
Liz turns sixteen, and her friends buy her an ice cream cake to celebrate. That night, Liz can’t stop thinking about her parents and Lisa. She also begins to worry when Carlos spends longer amounts of time away from her. Sam advises her to give Carlos some space. Liz begins to worry that, without Carlos, she and Sam will be helpless.
Liz begins to distrust Carlos even more, and partly as a result, she becomes nostalgic for her family. She also becomes uneasy with being so dependent on Carlos (or anyone else)—Liz has always tried to be an independent person, and she doesn’t like that Carlos has power over her because he buys her meals.
Late at night, Liz calls Brick’s home. Lisa answers the phone and explains that Liz should come home: Ma “doesn’t have that long.”
Notice that Liz doesn’t record her own reaction to Lisa’s call: she seems hesitant to return to see her mother.
The next night, Liz sees Carlos for the first time in a while. Carlos is wearing new clothes, and he has a lot of money. He orders food for Liz and Sam, and kisses Liz as Liz chews her meal. “The taste,” Liz writes, “mingled uncomfortably with his words.”
Liz seems to be turning her back on her family, even though she’s uneasy with Carlos, too. Her description of her kiss suggests that there’s something wrong in their relationship: the reality of being his girlfriend doesn’t measure up to her hopes and wishes.