Chapter Five

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"Do you have the money?" Alejandro's gruff voice startles me after I get off Miguel's 1996 red Chevy Silverado truck. My curious gaze fleets over to the group standing a few feet behind him. Mutters and innocent cries emanate from shrouded figures resembling men, women, and children; their sounds mingle with chirps, croaks, and howls from the creatures of the night.

My good friend Miguel offered to drop us at Don Sebas' ranch. Tonight, I won't only say goodbye to this city and my country; it's also my last farewell to the only friend I had in years. It'll always be a mystery to me how our friendship started, considering he's not only a man, but he's also older than me. I hate men, so it really amazes me how this friendship flourished and survived in the arid desert of my being. I found solace in his easy demeanor and gentle voice. His kind brown eyes are like reflections of green pastures and clear blue skies under the golden sun. Miguel's serenity radiates like a magnetic field drawing you to its soothing center. A trait that, somehow, has managed to bring order into the chaos of my turbulent life.

Now, I'm moving to a place where his peace can't reach me. I'll miss that feeling. It's hard for me to open up to someone, even to Lupe, but Miguel found a way to connect with me. I hope we'll keep in touch by phone whenever we can, but it'll never be the same as having him in front of me whenever I need him. It's a loss that truly saddens me.

And no matter how broken I am, Miguel never gave up on me. I don't know why. There are some things that can't be explained. They just are.

"Chamaca? The money? Do you have the money?" Alejandro snaps at me impatiently, making me jump at the harshness of his tone.

"Sorry!" I blurt looking back at Alejandro. He's definitely annoyed after having to wait to get a response. "Yes! Yes, yes yes. I did. I have the money." My left hand tries to gain control over the rebellious galloping of my distraught heart.

"Alright, then. We're waiting for one more family, but as soon as they arrive, we'll leave. Say your goodbyes now and join the rest. My Compadre will start taking you all to the plane soon." His impassive look gives nothing away. He's obviously used to do this and isn't concerned about being caught by the gringos like I am.

"Understood. Thank you, Don Alejandro."

"Thank me when we get to the other side, Señorita."

Alejandro turns around and starts barking some orders to the two men standing at the gate of the deserted ranch. My eyes follow him until he reaches his destination.

"It's time to say goodbye, Marife." My head spins back at the sound of Miguel's melancholic voice. There's sadness in his eyes. Tonight, the skies in those eyes are grey, not blue. The sun is hiding behind the dark clouds, but the storm will dissipate. Miguel's goodness shines as brightly as the sun itself.

"Miguel..." my vision becomes blurry. Watery. My voice only a murmur. "Thanks for everything."

"You have nothing to thank me for, Marife. I hope you find what you're looking for." The skin around my eyes and cheeks prickle and my nose feels a bit stuffy. Soon, my eyes feel the need to fight back the tears building up, threatening to break the brick wall holding them, but I fail miserably.

"I want revenge, Miguel. That's all I want." Anger rises up quickly. The next words come with fierce determination. "The kind of revenge that allows me to crush my father's pathetic life. I swear to you, I won't stop until I become someone important who earns the respect of everyone that meets her. With lots of money. And if there is such thing as justice, I'll have him kneeling in front of me, begging for forgiveness. For my help. 

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