grabs the handlebars, and leans the bike against the concrete. âIs she your only one, J.T.?â
âNo, I got two boysâEli and Max. Both of them at college.â Dad sets his guitar next to the banjo.
Mr. Elliott holds out his hand, with its stained fingers. âGot pictures?â
Dad takes his wallet from his back pocket. The top photo is of all five of us together, before Eli, Max, and Mami left. I was around ten then, and both Mami and I wore embroidered peasant-style blouses. My hair came to my shoulders and curled under my chin. There was a gap between my teeth. I wore braces all through sixth grade to get rid of it.
Dad digs under the photo for more, but before he can take them out, Mr. Elliott lifts the wallet from his hand for a closer look. He then pulls his wallet from his pocket and hands a worn photo to my father.
âHereâs Lissa with baby Brandon. He was a real sweetie.â Mr. Elliott taps the photo with the corner of Dadâs wallet. âThe other one busted our chops from day one. Colic. Wouldnât sleepÂ .Â .Â .â I peer over Dadâs shoulder at a skinny woman, her long straight hair parted in the middle, holding a smiling, round, bald baby in her lap. Sheâs smiling too, her thin lips pressed together. Baby Brandon has a pair of teeth on top that glisten like tiny pearls.
Dad has photos of all of us. Mr. Elliott has the one with Brandon and his mother and another of Brandon that looks like it was taken at the hospital, with him all red and wrinkled and wearing a blue knit cap. Nothing of Chad. Even though Iâm mad at him for ignoring me and hanging out with the older boys, I wonder what he looked like as a little kid, if he looked like Brandon does nowâsweet and innocent rather than hard and mean.
Dad and Mr. Elliott are still looking at family photos when I go back inside. I drag Maxâs bike outside, ready to go. Chad has made his own friends at the BMX track. I donât have to ask Antonio to let him ride there. But Antonio did say he wanted me to return to the trailâhe just didnât show up yesterday. Remembering that kid with the sideburns and the video camera, I get an idea. If I record the stunts, maybe theyâll notice me, talk to me, want me to stick around.
Dad keeps our video camera in his tiny recording studio. He bought it a little over a year ago, and I used it to record CorazÃ³n del Esteâs concerts. Most of the time, Iâd set the camera up on a tripod and let it run. Sometimes I took handheld footage, getting right in front of the musicians or sneaking backstage to shoot them from behind, which was my favorite because it sort of made me part of the band too.
I posted the videos on YouTubeâDadâs idea to get more people to hire us. We got over a thousand views in all and a few people left thumbs-ups. When someone wrote,
Nice- looking band. Great costumes,
I ran bragging to everyone in my family because it was hard to get the colorful outfits they performed in to stand out with the bad lighting. But even though the band looked good, Mami said we didnât get enough gigs to pay the cost of the camera, even with Dadâs employee discount at Tech Town.
I wait until after breakfast, when Dad leaves for work. Then I put the camera into my backpack and ride to College Park.
Like yesterday, the mountain bike trail is deserted. The extra day of sunshine has chased away the musty smell, but the breeze makes me shiver where the trees block out the sun. I think about turning back. Antonio never gave me his phone number. Maybe he didnât mean it when he said he wanted to see me againÂ .Â .Â .
âHey, Maxâs sister! Like your bike.â
Antonio rides downhill toward me on the trail next to the creek. Even with his helmet on, I recognize the solid jaw, the skin almost as dark as mine. I squeeze my brakes and glide to a stop on the bridge.
He stops at the edge of the creek just