Soon, it is Reyna’s first day of first grade. She is excited to finally be in school with her older siblings, and happy to have a special uniform and shiny new shoes to wear. On her first morning of school, she gathers with Mago and Carlos in the courtyard to salute the flag and watch the color guard perform a march. Mago stares longingly at the team, dreaming of the day when she will get to join the color guard, too. As Reyna watches the march, she feels full of hometown pride and excitement for her future.
Reyna, the youngest of her siblings, sees school as the one place where she, Mago, and Carlos can just be normal kids and dream normal dreams. At school, no one is there to abuse or degrade them, and they can feel free to imagine what their futures will hold.
In class, Reyna learns to write her name. When she uses her left hand to write, though, she is beaten by her teacher. Abuela Evila, too, has beaten her for using her left hand to do tasks around the house, calling it “the side of evil” and warning her that if she continues using it, it will shrivel up and die. Reyna looks at the letters of her name and begins to hate it.
Reyna is given a nasty shock, however, when she realizes that there is pain and suffering even at school—she begins to wonder if perhaps she is the problem, and whether she is deserving of all the abuse and pain that come her way.
At lunchtime, Reyna meets up with Mago and Carlos. They watch as their classmates buy food from women selling enchiladas and taquitos at the school entrance, but they don’t have enough money to buy food themselves. Mago, Carlos, and Reyna see one of their classmates drop his mango on the ground. Mago urges Carlos to go over and pick it up so that they can share it. When he refuses, she asks Reyna to do it, but Reyna, too, refuses. After the bell rings, and everyone goes back to their classrooms, Reyna lingers in the courtyard. Once it’s empty, she goes over and picks up the mango, brushes the dirt off of it, and bites into it.
Reyna and her siblings are so poor—and so uncared for by their grandmother—that they cannot even afford lunch at school and are reduced to eating scraps. Reyna doesn’t want to stoop to such a level, but as soon as no one is looking, she knows that she cannot control her hunger. This passage shows just how malnourished and desperate Reyna really is.