Every day we were in PR, Mami promised to take us to a pool. And every day, we would go to a someone else in our family’s house and sit and watch TV in Spanish and not understand what was going on. I was so bored my ankles were itching me.
One morning Mami told us once again we were going to a pool.
“You always say that,” my brother Fever said.
“Yeah, you always say that” I said.
“You see,” she said.
The car was hot and sticky, and Tio Poco Loco drove. We liked it better when Titi Evelyn drove because she had what Papi called “a lead foot.” And since the breeze coming through the window was the only way to get cool, the ride was better when she drove.
So we were suffering two times. Because we were so hot and there was no breeze going to come. And because we knew we were never going to see no pool.
All of a sudden Tio stopped the car on the side of the road underneath a lot of trees. Then Mami said: “Here’s the pool, kids.”
We got out of the car. All we could see was trees and a road. Where was the sign for the pool? Where were the lockers?
“Where’s the pool, Mami?,” “Mami, I don’t see no pool,” “Mami’s lying,” we said.
Mami told us to take off our t-shirts. Our cousin the Skipper—we called him that because he always wore a hat like the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island—and Tio Poco Loco took a cooler from the trunk and walked right into the woods on the side of the road. Mami made us follow.
I heard it before I saw it.
We passed through the trees, and there, making a giant rushing round, was a stream with clear, cool water.
“This ain’t no pool,” Evie said.
“This is a lake,” I said.
“It’s a river, stupid,” Fever said.
“This is better than a pool,” Mami said. “Let’s go.”
We had to walk over slippery rocks to get to the water. It was hurting my feet.
“But what if there’s fishes?,” I said.
“They could eat you,” my brother said.
“Mami!” I yelled.
“Cut it out,” Mami told Fever.
“There’re fishes,” my sister squealed. “Look. Look.”
She was right. In the clear water that surrounded us, small fish swam all around. And did not bite.
Mami and Tio and the Skipper sat on the rocks, dangling their feet in, drinking beer. There were other people there, with a radio playing Spanish music.
“Isn’t this fun?” Mami said.
“Look, mami.” My brother dunked himself into the water past his head. “I can see the fishes swimming underneath!”
I walked through the water to Mami and told her I had to pee.
“Go ahead,” she said, lighting a cigarette. “Do it right there.”
So I did.