We should’ve paid more attention, Tony and I. Maybe we were both too caught up in the moment. Maybe we were too taken with each other and our passion and our love blooming in the dark like moon flowers. Maybe we were thinking too much about the here and now instead of our future together. Whatever the case, it wasn’t long before we had a real problem, and it wasn’t my brother—at least, not yet.
It took me a week to tell Tony. I wanted to believe he would man up and take care of his responsibilities, but then I’d see him with Carlos, and they seemed like little boys, joking and laughing without a care in the world. Plus, there were Carlos’s sidelong glances and all that snapping. I couldn’t understand it. I always got the feeling they were plotting something.
I knew Lupe would just say I told you so, but I couldn’t exactly tell Mamá. She’d have a heart attack. So when I got to work, I told her I needed to talk, and we met at Anzalduas Park over lunch.
It was a windy day, clear and cool. We both had to tie our hair back to keep it out of our tacos.
When I broke the news, Lupe bit her lip. “What are you gonna do?” she said.
I folded a piece of spearmint into my mouth and puzzled on her question as if it were a riddle. “I’ve got to tell him,” I said.
She shook her head. “No, when he does his dude thing and runs, is what I mean.”
“Not my Tony.”
She gave me a squinty look. “Then what are you waiting for?”
Some kids playing hooky laughed and shouted as their kite soared above the river.
“I don’t know what to say.”
“Try, ‘Guess what, sixteen-year-old illegal cousin? You knocked me up!’”
“You’re such a romantic,” I said.
“Wise up, María. Dudes are all the same.”
“Anyway, trust me, there’s no chance Tony’s sixteen.”
“Well,” said Lupe, looking bored, “you’d know. But he’s still your cousin.”
I gave her a look. She gave it right back. “¡Sí, segura!” we said in unison, then laughed.
We watched the kids crash their kite into the riverbank. It was just one of those plastic-and-balsawood jobs you can find at the supermercado, and it looked broken from here. They argued and pointed fingers for a minute. There was some pushing and shoving, maybe a few tears. But pretty soon they had that thing back up in the air, don’t ask me how.
Lupe nudged me. “Guess this means no more happy hour for a while, right?”