After awhile, Elisa’s words sunk in. I was actually going to meet Hector after all this time of searching. What was I going to say? The real question was what was he going to say? Maybe he didn’t want to see me. It’s been so long since he has left that he could have came to see me if he wanted to. I didn’t care what anyone else said about it. He could have made an effort. Maybe he just didn’t want to. Maybe he regretted having me as a daughter.
With all of these thoughts racing around in my head, I needed some clarity. I needed some comfort. After Emilio dropped me back off at my hotel, I changed into some pajamas and settled in for the night. There was one person who knew the right words to say to me. I knew I could gain the confidence I so needed. Picking up the phone, I prepared myself for what I was going to tell them.
“Hello?” the voice on the other end asked.
I smiled. “Hey, Mom.”
“Susanna! How are you, sweetie? Gary and I were just talking about you.”
My mom sounded happy but concerned. She didn’t want to come out and ask about Hector, but she wanted to know. I could tell by the tone of her voice.
“I’m doing alright, Mom. I just needed to hear your voice. This is so much harder than I expected.” I sighed. That was the understatement of the year.
“I figured it wasn’t going to be easy,” My mom said. “But I knew you would be strong enough to get through it. How is it all going?”
“Well after running into what seemed like a million dead ends, we finally found someone who knew how to find one of Hector’s sisters.”
“Elisa. She seems really nice and pretty. I think Emilio has developed a big crush on her.” I laughed as I thought back on Emilio’s reaction towards meeting Elisa. His eyes seemed to smile every time she looked at him. It was kind of cute to see.
My mother seemed confused. “Wait. Who is Emilio?”
I could have hit myself for not remembering that she didn’t know about him yet. “Oh, he’s this guy I met on the beach my first night in Cancun. He was playing guitar on the beach and he agreed to help me out.”
“Oh I see. You’re being careful, right?”
I wasn’t sure what she meant by that question. Did she think Emilio was some kind of perverted serial killer? I doubted that guy could hurt a fly. “Don’t worry about me, Mom. Everything is fine. I need all the help I can get. I came here with your story of how you met Hector and some old postcard Grandmother swiped from you. That wasn’t much.”
“I know it hasn’t been easy for you, Susanna. But, maybe your grandmother is right. Maybe you have to do this for you.”
I knew this, but I didn’t want to admit it. “I just don’t know what I’m going to say to him,” I said slowly. “What do I say to a man I don’t even remember?”
“That’s up to you. But I know you’ll figure it out. You’ve gone through too much to get there to back out now.”
Truer words could not have been spoken. I talked to my mom for another hour. We talked about everything except meeting Hector. I wanted to be distracted by other things. This was my clarity.
Before we ended our conversation, my mom said, “Good luck tomorrow, Susanna. You can do this.”
I took a deep breath and released it. “You’re right. I can do this. Not only for myself, but for you. I’m going to get the answers we need.”
My mom laughed. “I’m not sure I need those answers.”
The next morning, I was feeling more refreshed than I had the entire time I was in Mexico. I had found a reliable source who actually knew how to find Hector. I wasn’t going to be sent on other pointless trip. I was going to meet Hector today. During the drive to meet Elisa, I let Emilio talk the entire time. I wasn’t even sure I knew what he was talking about, but it was nice to hear something other than silence. It kept my mind occupied and not panicking.
When we pulled in front of a house, that’s when my stomach turned over. This was it. My father could be in there right now. Emilio turned to me and smiled.
“So, here we are. Are you nervous?” he asked.
I shrugged. “I just want to get it over with. I want to be done with the whole thing.”
Emilio patted my hand. “Well let’s get you that then.”
Elisa was waiting for us by the front door. She smiled at me. “So, are you ready?”
“I guess so. Are you sure he’s in there?” I asked.
“He was this morning. I don’t think he had plans for today.” Elisa looked me over once more. “I’m sorry. I just can’t get over how much you look like him. It’s pretty incredible to finally be seeing you.”
“Does he know I’m coming?” I asked. I needed to prepare myself for whatever was waiting for me in there.
Elisa shook her head. “I didn’t tell him. I wanted it to be a surprise. Let’s go.”
Yeah, I’m sure this will be a wonderful surprise, I thought sarcastically as Elisa opened the front door and we walked inside.
As soon as we walked inside, three little kids rushed at us in all directions. Elisa ushered them away with a wave of her hands. Turning to us, she said, “Sorry. Those are Esteban’s kids.”
“Who is Esteban?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s my older brother. Your uncle.”
There were so many people I didn’t know about and it was starting to make my head spin, trying to keep up with them all. I looked around each room that we walked through. The house seemed really beautiful. The house looked cozy like it was really lived in and used. You could tell a huge family lived here with all of the photographs hanging on the wall and the toys laying on the wooden floors.
Elisa led us to a room that looked like a sitting room. “Have a seat and I’ll go see if I can find Hector.” She left leaving me and Emilio alone in the room.
I was thankful Emilio was there. He kept me calm and distracted. Without him there, I would have been a complete mess.
“I think you need to do this alone,” he finally said, looking at me. “I’ve taken you
this far and now it’s your turn to figure this out.” He smiled. “Don’t worry. I’ll be waiting outside. Come find me when you’re ready.”
I didn’t want him to leave, but I knew he was right. This was something I needed to do alone.
I watched him leave. Now all I could hear was a clock ticking in the room. Tick, tick, tick. The sound was starting to grate on my nerves. Where could he be? What was taking so long. I decided to get up and look around the room at all of the photographs hanging on the walls. Hector belonged to a big family, but I knew which one he was. I could tell by the smile on his face. He had a smile like no one else. It was a huge toothy grin that seemed to be saying something mischievous or sarcastic.
As I continued to look, I didn’t notice that the door had opened and someone entered the room.
So it definitely took me by surprise when someone behind me asked, “Susanna?”