The other children had run, frightened by the noise and light or by the understanding of what the noise and light represented. José had run, too, faster than ever before. At some point, though, he had realized his abuela had not run, that she could not have run; he crept back to the house in bare-footed silence without any other thought than the realization that he could not simply leave her behind.
José pulled the squeaky screen door open a millimeter at a time, listening between heartbeats. As he crept up the hall his abuela's voice was agitated as she related the story of how her father had been arrested during more radical times, how he had disappeared. She talked passionately, plaintively, of humanity, of grief, of mercy. Through the hole in the curtain, his body now frozen like a churchyard statue, José could see what she was talking to.