“Lucero,” I said, “did you ever go to school?” We were sitting in our bedroom, getting ready for bed. Below us, I could hear the sounds of my parents in the bakery as they shut the big bread ovens, and the hum of the mixers.
“Never,” she replied. “My family wanted me to beg and steal, not go to school. But I can read a little, and write my name and a few other things. Some of the older children taught me when I lived on the streets.”
“Would you like to go to school? Mama wants to know.”
Lucero chewed her bottom lip. “Maybe. Sometime.”
“What is wrong?” I asked.
“Consuelo…” she nervously twisted her little flowered nightgown with her fingers. “Am I…do I live here now?”
“What do you mean?” I said.
Lucero trembled as she stood there, her eyes so big and brown, like a puppy dog. “Your family has been so kind to me, buying me clothes and helping me learn to do things in the panaderia. But I sometimes wonder—when will I be going back to live on the roof with the other children? Will it be when I have learned enough, or gotten healthy enough from all the good food, or helped ice enough cookies?”
“Chica, I don’t know what you are saying,” I replied. I felt almost afraid, as if Lucero knew something I didn’t; my heart was beating fast. “Aren’t you happy here?” I looked at her little face, now clean and smooth, and her skin the golden color of a good wheat bread’s crust; there were no longer shadows under her eyes or sores on her mouth, and her hair was long and shiny. “Do you want to go back?”
“Oh!” gasped Lucero, “why would I ever want to go back?” Tears filled her eyes. “I am so happy here.”
“Then you are acting loco, si?” I cried. “You are part of the family now! We don’t take someone who’s family and throw them out into the street! So when you ask when you will be going back to the roof, the answer is “Nunca más’! Never again!” I shook my comb at her, then went and gave her a little hug. “You are my sister now. We will go to school together. We will grow up together. We will help run the bakery together. Someday, you will make Rosca de Reyes as good as Mama.”
“You think so?” She wiped her eyes and smiled at me.
“Absolutamente!” I cried. And that was the end of that. I felt like Mama must feel when she comforts me, sometimes: as if I was so much older and wiser and Lucero was just a child. Maybe that is what having a little sister is all about, Diary. It’s a new feeling.