Lizet is awoken by a strange woman who shakes her out of sleep by grabbing her shoulder and yelling at her in Spanish to get outside. Lizet wakes up disoriented and dazed—she grabs her bag, slips on her shoes, and joins the others outside. She will later learn that the raid on Ariel’s house lasted less than four minutes.
It is clear that something has gone terribly wrong, but Lizet does not yet know what’s happening. The older Lizet interjects to reveal a fact about the raid which throws into relief how fast—and yet how traumatic—the raid really was.
By the time Lizet gets to the front gate of the house, Ariel has already been removed from his uncle’s home. Lizet does not know that, inside the house, her mother has been pepper-sprayed; all she can see is Ariel, in the arms of a strange woman, being loaded tearfully into a van. Lizet locks eyes with the child, and as she realizes that Ariel will remember this night for the rest of his life, she understands that she will be an inextricable part of his memory of it.
In this moment, readers understand why Ariel and Lizet’s narratives have been swirling around each other all this time. As Lizet and Ariel lock eyes, Crucet makes a point about the interconnectedness of all stories and the ways in which humans affect one another’s lives without realizing it.
Lizet runs after the van as it speeds away, but soon stops in the middle of the street, unsure of exactly what she is trying to do. Behind her, dozens of people continue running past her, chasing the van. Lizet senses that her mother must be inside Ariel’s house, and she rushes through the madness to try to find a way inside.
Lizet doesn’t linger too long on her moment with Ariel—her only thought is of finding her mother, the whole reason she came to the vigil, whom she fears is in danger as a result of the raid.
The inside of the house is chaos. Lizet steps over toys, blankets, and trails of pepper spray as people scream all around her in Spanish and in English. She asks what is going on, but nobody answers her. She calls again and again for Lourdes, and eventually finds her in a room which holds a racecar bed—Ariel’s room. There is a crowd of people in the room, and from the center of it come pained howls. Lizet pushes through the crowd and finds her mother on the racecar bed with her arms wrapped around a wailing Caridaylis.
As Lizet stumbles through the house, she is more or less a ghost—no one pays attention to her. There are certainly more important things going on, but Lizet’s isolation is heightened in this moment as she calls upon others for help only to be ignored.
Lizet watches as Lourdes comforts Caridaylis. Lourdes begs the other people in the room to leave and give them some privacy, but nobody moves. Lizet stares at her mother’s tear-streaked face, puffy from pepper spray, and sees that Caridaylis’s face looks much the same. Cari, Lizet thinks, could be Lourdes’s daughter.
As Lizet watches her mother with Caridaylis, she feels betrayed and replaced—she realizes that Caridaylis is the daughter her mother has always wanted.
Lourdes looks up at Lizet and hisses at her to leave the room, clutching Caridaylis tighter to her chest. Someone grabs Lizet and pulls her towards the door. Lizet does not move, and the hand holding her elbow pulls her harder. A voice tells her, in Spanish, to have some respect. Whoever has been pulling at Lizet now pulls at her hand, and she feels a searing pain. She looks at her palm, and sees that she has torn part of it away in the chaos. She sucks on the wound to ease the pain.
Lizet has been so entranced by the spectacle of her own mother cradling Caridaylis like her own daughter that she hasn’t even realized she’s been injured—her sense of betrayal is so profound that it has blocked out everything else.
As Lizet walks out of the room, grabs her bag, and leaves the house, she realizes that her leaving for college allowed Caridaylis to take her place. Caridaylis is someone whose decisions Lourdes understands and is proud of. Lizet writes, from the future, that she would keep leaving again and again, year after year, until Miami was no longer home; until home “meant only as much as [her] memory of that morning would betray.”
Lizet is saddened and hurt to realize that the things she has been hoping will make her mother proud will never be enough for her; Lizet is on her own, and she and her mother are effectively strangers to one another.
Leidy is furious with Lizet for leaving Lourdes at Ariel’s. Lourdes does not come home later the next day or even the next night, and Leidy fears Lourdes has been arrested. She chastises Lizet for not “saving” their mother when she had the chance, but Lizet insisted there was never a chance in the first place. Lizet refuses to go back to Ariel’s to look for Lourdes, using the excuse of having an early flight out the next day; the truth, though, is that Lizet wants to spare Leidy the knowledge that Caridaylis has replaced them.
Lizet is too upset and overwhelmed by the truth of what she witnessed at Ariel’s to go back for her mother. She knows, even if Leidy doesn’t, that they may have permanently lost the woman their mother used to be.
The morning of Lizet’s flight, Leidy is still too mad at her to drive her to the airport, and Lourdes has chained herself to the front of Ariel’s house. Ricky offers to drive Lizet, but Lizet is embarrassed to need his help again, and declines. Lizet calls upon Omar to take her back to the airport—when she opens the door, it is clear that he has been crying, and Lizet correctly intuits that he is upset over Ariel’s deportation. As Omar drops Lizet at the airport, he asks her if they are “over,” and Lizet confirms that they are. He hugs her like he’ll never see her again, and then lets her go.
Omar has been cruel to Lizet lately—not to mention isolated and standoffish. Now, though, he reveals the true depths of his emotions, and the internal suffering he’s going through as a result of the emotional Ariel situation and his own estrangement from Lizet—which he must know is partially his responsibility.
When Lizet returns to campus, she has nobody to call and tell she got home safely. When she walks into her dorm room, Jillian asks how her weekend was, and asks some questions about the Ariel raid—Lizet knows she will never be willing to give Jillian the answers she wants to hear. Spotting the bandage on Lizet’s hand, she becomes nervous, and asks if Lizet is okay; Lizet, exhausted, flops down onto her own bed and tells Jillian how happy she is to see her.
Though Lizet knows that Jillian will surely want to know too much about the raid—and will most likely negate Lizet’s opinions and observations the moment she gives them—she is so happy to be away from her family that even dealing with Jillian is a relief.