Soon after the rumor had spread, Isabel began hiding her jewelry she acquired from her mother, who acquired them from her mother, by sewing them in articles of clothing: inside the pocket lining of Luis’s pants, Niño’s sock, and in her unmentionables. They have been preparing for it but did not know it might be coming this soon. Day after day, Isabel would visit their wardrobes, and the piles of garments would grow smaller as she would, one by one, pull out different clothes and put them in knapsacks resting behind the front door, ready to be picked up after having been filled with things she thought necessary. Meanwhile, Luis saw after their lawn, making sure the grass was level, the flowers were in bloom, and no overgrown vine was in sight to disclose their plans.
And when on a fine sunny morning that they scheduled their market errands, whispers of “they are coming” were heard from the vendors and shoppers alike, Luis said in a hushed tone that it was time. Isabel merely nodded, and they set out to buy their wares separately: the freshest vegetables for her, and tender beef cuts for him. Late that afternoon, at the first moments of the sun’s disappearance, a handsome supper had already been prepared on a table clothed with line-dried white lace that captured the smell of the morning sun, laid with their antique silverware and gilded porcelain plates. They held hands to say grace and squeezed them tightly before Amen was uttered.
As they ate, Isabel and Luis would often look at each other, small smiles on their faces as they watched Niño eat with such heartiness that he had created a mess of his supper from his face down to the floor. He has always been a small child, and, at the age of nine, his chin just barely reached the tabletop. Luis slowly sipped from his glass the wine he had bought on his way home from the butcher, while Isabel nibbled on some beef, silently ticking off things she needed doing before they leave.
Heavy dinner meant heavy eyes, so when Niño began yawning and stretching his back, Isabel and Luis took him upstairs, each holding one of Niño’s hands as they led him to his room. There were small giggles as they pulled and swung him up, making him hover a few inches above the steps. After they tucked him in and put his favorite toy snug in his arms, Isabel and Luis retreated to their room and made love, lingering in each other’s spaces and kissing each other’s crevices. It was tender and both wished for the interlude to be longer, but there were more urgent things to attend to, and before the midnight chime struck, they were already downstairs. Isabel busied herself with baking bread and cookies, and Luis kept her company with some brewed coffee he was saving for special occasions, while looking at a map he bought when they first arrived town, memorizing the route they would have to take later that night.
It had been a very quiet evening: there was no rustling of leaves, only whispers of the wind as it passed through...