Reyna’s boyfriend Edwin picks her up from Diana’s to drive her up to UC Santa Cruz. On the drive, Edwin tells her how proud Papi is of her, but Reyna doesn’t say anything. Edwin encourages Reyna to try to understand that her father knew she would be leaving at the end of the summer and didn’t want to be alone—that is why he agreed to Mila’s condition. He suggests that perhaps, in the end, Papi just didn’t want to hold Reyna back any longer.
Edwin’s words of encouragement do little to make Reyna feel better—but hearing from someone who grew to know her father that he was, in the end, proud of her is perhaps just what she needs to hear as she heads off to at last begin college.
Edwin helps Reyna move into her student apartment. She wishes that her mother and father and siblings were here with her today, but knows that this time, she is the one who has left them—she has chosen to be alone. Once Reyna is all moved in, Edwin departs and promises to visit each weekend—he is attending another school nearby. Truly alone for the first time in her life, Reyna takes a walk and explores her new campus. She is enchanted by the blue skies, fresh air, and tall redwood trees, but overwhelmed at the same time.
Reyna’s whole life has been about her family—now, she is embarking on a chapter of her life that is just about her. The feeling is foreign and exciting at the same time: she gets to live her own life just for herself after years of trying to prove her worth to Papi, to make herself manageable for Mago, and to make herself loved by Mami.
As Reyna makes her way to a cliff looking over the ocean, she realizes she has nothing to fear. All she has to do is focus on her dreams. She closes her eyes, remembering her first trip to the beach with Papi, and how tightly he held her hand as they walked into the ocean together. In Reyna’s mind, she at last lets his callused hand go.
As Reyna mentally releases herself from Papi’s grasp, she also releases him—or the image of him she always wanted him to be—from hers.