Lizet has asked Omar to pick her up from the airport—she hasn’t told him the true reason for her visit, and has instead lied and claimed to have found a cheap Easter flight home. When Omar asked why Lizet was coming home for Easter, she challengingly asked him if there was any reason she shouldn’t—he replied that there wasn’t.
As Lizet prepares to come home, everyone around her is still trying to keep her in the dark about what’s going on with Lourdes—even as she tries to provoke Omar into telling her the truth.
Now, as Omar greets Lizet at the airport terminal, he asks where her ring is. She tells him she left it at school so that it wouldn’t get lost or snagged on the plane. Omar seems to not really believe her, and Lizet herself knows she’s lying—she hasn’t worn the ring for weeks.
Lizet continues lying, isolating herself from those around her in a web of lies that allows her to manipulate others. She has been so overburdened all year that she is desperately trying to take control of her life and her surroundings any way she can.
Omar starts driving Lizet towards Little Havana, and she tells him she’s not going to her mother’s house—she wants to be dropped off at her father’s apartment in Hialeah. Lizet has realized that she needs her father’s help. When they pull up to the apartment complex, it seems as if no one’s home, but Lizet insists Omar help her get her bags out of the trunk anyway. Omar refuses, not wanting to leave Lizet in a such a seedy place so late at night. Lizet gets out of the car, goes around to the trunk, and begins banging on it; Omar eventually relents. Lizet takes her bags, thanks Omar for the ride, and starts heading up to her father’s building; Omar tries to stop Lizet by yelling at her, but soon another voice calls Lizet’s name.
Lizet is using Omar for a ride and nothing more. Omar, though, still cares about Lizet, and wants to make sure she is safe. Lizet is so upset that she lashes out at Omar. He has not yet caught on, though, the reason for her anger: the fact that she knows everyone in Miami has been lying to her about Lourdes for months.
Ricky has come out of his apartment building at the noise; he is shocked to see Lizet home, and Lizet can tell he is more than a little angry. When Lizet tells him that she’s home for Easter, he immediately realizes what she’s really saying. Omar tries to speak up and tell Ricky he had nothing to do with Lizet’s trip, but Ricky just tells Omar to leave. Before he does, Omar tells Lizet there’s no reason for the way she’s treating him—he’s only ever been good to her.
So much of what’s happening in this passage is below the surface. Lizet knows that Ricky knows what she’s talking about and why she’s home, but Omar still doesn’t have a clue. No one is communicating openly with one another—they are all existing in states of withdrawal and isolation.
Lizet brings up what she’s seen on the news, but Omar insists he didn’t want to tell her the truth because there was nothing she could do from all the way up at Rawlings. Lizet says that’s what she’s here to do—to stop Lourdes, since obviously no one else will. As he throws the car into gear, Omar yells for Lizet to think about “whose fault it is” that she isn’t in Miami anymore in the first place.
When Omar realizes what’s going on, he attempts to shunt the blame away from himself and accuse Lizet of abandoning her family, implying that things have devolved into chaos because she left to pursue an education.
Lizet goes into her father’s apartment and sits with him in his bedroom. She and her father instantly begin bickering about Lizet’s abandonment, Ricky’s choice to sell the house, and their respective disappointments in one another. They both get tired and sad, though, and quiet falls over the room. Ricky gets Lizet a snack and asks if Lourdes purchased her flight for her; Lizet replies that she bought the ticket with her own money, and that Lourdes doesn’t know she’s coming.
Lizet has wanted to confront her father for months about his betrayals, but as she finally gets her moment, she is too exhausted to really get to the bottom of everything.
Lizet tells Ricky that she needs to get her mother away from the Ariel situation. She tells her father that she has been watching the news up at school—“we look like a bunch of crazy people,” she says, referring to how the reports frame Miamians. When Ricky asks what Lizet means by “we,” she clarifies that she means Cubans; Ricky laughs and tells Lizet she isn’t Cuban. Lizet is deeply hurt, and her face reflects it, because Ricky attempts to backtrack, telling her she’s American. Lizet replies she must be “Latina at least.” Ricky argues that Latinos are Mexicans and Central Americans. Lizet, frustrated, says that “other people” think she’s Cuban—her father, equally upset, gives the argument up.
This passage is one of the novel’s most striking—Lizet, who has been told for months and months by everyone around her that she is “the Cuban girl,” realizes that in her father’s eyes, she is not truly Cuban—she is an American, raised in America. Lizet feels erased and stuck in an in-between state; in a place like Rawlings, where her otherness has been shoved in her face again and again, she has begun to feel like everything hinges on her Cuban identity. Realizing now that perhaps it was never hers to begin with, she is confused and upset.
As Lizet eats her snack, Ricky asks if she needs a ride to her mother’s apartment—she can’t stay with him. She says she’ll sleep on the couch, and asks if he can take her over on Saturday or Sunday. As they continue arguing, Ricky threatens to call Lourdes, but Lizet begs him not to—in fact, she says, when she does go to her mother’s, she will need him to come with her. She tells her father that she believes he is at least a small part of why Lourdes has thrown herself into all the Ariel stuff. Lizet will not be able to pull her away from it by herself.
Lizet knows that tearing her mother away from Ariel and his family will be no easy task; she wants her father to step up and get involved, but this effort, too, seems like a lost cause. Lizet is on her own in her quest to bring her mother back from the brink of danger.
Ricky points out that Lizet has gone to college by herself and has paid for all her own trips home herself; she doesn’t need his help. He tells her that she can stay the night, but says he’s dropping her at her mother’s first thing in the morning—he does not want to get involved with “whoever [Lourdes] thinks she is now.”
Lizet has proved her independence—Ricky points out that Lizet has no problem striking out on her own, and should be able to handle this herself. Ricky is accusing Lizet of selfishness while being selfish himself.
In the morning, Ricky drives Lizet to Lourdes’s apartment. Leidy answers the door for her; Leidy seems both surprised and unsurprised to see Lizet. The two sisters almost immediately begin fighting, as Lizet accuses Leidy of pushing her out of the family and lying to her while Leidy calls Lizet a selfish snob and a traitor for staying at their father’s house. The argument flares up and winds down again and again until both sisters are exhausted. They go to the living room window together and look down at the street at the procession of people heading towards Ariel’s house. Quietly, Leidy admits she is happy to see Lizet; Lizet knows Leidy must think that all their fighting is over, but Lizet knows—with a sense of dread—that only the “opening act” is out of the way for now.
Lizet calls Leidy out on her dishonestly and manipulation of Lizet, while Leidy points out that Lizet has only been concerned with herself for months—and is now so desperate to avoid her own family that she is spending time with the man who committed the greatest betrayal of all in leaving them. Once all this is out of the way, though, things seem to settle; Lizet does not relax, though, as she knows that more terrible confrontations must be had before she goes back to school.