There are so many questions Lizet wants to ask her mother about her involvement with the Madres on the walk over to Ariel’s, but she doesn’t even know where to begin. When they arrive, Lourdes ushers Lizet inside the house directly across the street from Ariel’s—she points out that Lizet is not wearing black, and cannot be out on the lawn with the praying women. Lizet offers to go home and change, but Lourdes hurries her into the house.
Lizet wants to be on the front lines of the action—not hidden away in a stranger’s house—but Lourdes is intent on keeping Lizet apart from the vigil for some reason.
Inside, the house is dim and packed with people. Bedsheets are duct taped to the windows for privacy, and a long table in the dining room is loaded with food. As Lourdes makes a plate for Lizet, a young man about Lizet’s age begins talking to Lourdes. Lizet recognizes him from high school. When he walks away, Lizet asks Lourdes how she knows him; Lourdes answers that she knows everybody.
There is a structure and an order to things at the Ariel “encampment”; there is food for everybody and mechanisms in place to protect privacy. Lourdes’s pride in “knowing everybody” means that she is an important part of this community, and excited to be making a difference.
Lourdes leaves Lizet alone while she goes off to attend to some business. Lizet makes herself comfortable on the back porch and begins eating, but soon grows aware that the boy from the food table—Victor—is staring at her. After a minute, he tells Lizet that he knows her from Hialeah Lakes—he remembers that she is the “smart girl” who used to go out with Omar.
Lizet thought she was only going to know her mother at the vigil, but is surprised that she is not as isolated as the thought she would be—her community is tight-knit, and as such, she cannot escape people from her past.
Lizet asks Victor more about how he knows her mother, but Victor tells her not to change the subject—he wants to hear about how she goes to college in New York. He asks her, point-blank, if she has cheated on Omar in college; he says he can see guilt all over her face. Lizet tries to ignore him, unsure of how to get out of the conversation. Victor asks Lizet why he’s never seen her here before, and she says she’s just visiting. Victor cruelly states that she looks like a “fucking ghost,” and should “visit” the beach while she’s in Miami as well. He then asks if Lizet thinks Ariel should go back to Cuba or stay in America.
The conversation turns disturbing and even violent very quickly, increasing Lizet’s sense of isolation and danger. Victor confirms all the worst things Lizet has feared about herself, and heard others criticize her for; like Leidy, he points out how pale she’s become, and like her mother, he accuses her of not being good enough to Omar.
At this point, Lizet tries to walk away, but Victor demands to know why she’s here. She’s already a sellout, he says, and he wants to know if she thinks she can just come crawling back to Miami with “no consequences.” Lizet says she’s not a sellout, and Victor accuses her of being a “baby reporter,” spying on the Ariel operation so she can write about it for school. Lizet, truly uncomfortable, says she’s going to find her mother. As she walks away, Victor shouts some more obscenities at her; she pretends not to hear him, and quickly ducks into a bathroom, where she sits down on the toilet and cries, wondering if she really is a sellout.
It seems as if Victor is probing the depths of Lizet’s subconscious and pointing out all the things she fears—his accusation that she is a sellout reflects her own anxieties about having left Miami and thus allowed her mother to be swept up in such chaos.
As the hours go by, the crowd in the house begins to thin out noticeably; Lizet feels self-conscious as the crowd dwindles, and it becomes clear that she has no place or purpose here. Around midnight, Lourdes approaches Lizet to tell her that she should go to sleep on the couch, and then helps her set up a bed. The couch is uncomfortable, but as Lourdes gives Lizet a goodnight kiss, Lizet feels closer to her mother than she has in years.
Though Lizet has been feeling frightened, upset, and self-deprecating ever since the confrontation with Victor, this brief moment of closeness with Lourdes almost eclipses all the fear surrounding it; Lizet feels like herself again, and like restoring balance in her family is possible.
As she falls asleep, Lizet tries to rewrite the conversation with Victor in her head, and rearrange the things he said to try and make it seem as if he had been flirting with her. For years after this night, Lizet writes, the memory of the true conversation will make her flinch and wince. The conversation—in addition to being uncomfortable and downright cruel—made Lizet aware of the “double vision” she has now, as someone who has left Miami and her community behind for other things. The bigger reason, the older Lizet says, that the conversation with Victor has stuck in her head, is that it is easier to think about that than to think about what would happen to Ariel just a few hours later.
Again, Crucet uses the retrospective voice to point out that though things seem bad for Lizet and her family now, they are about to get a whole lot worse. The older Lizet feels isolated from her younger self, and at the same time pities the young Lizet for being so ignorant and unaware.