“Did you have fun with your friends?” his father asked.
“Yes, ensir,” said Marcos.
“Good. Go get cleaned up before dinner.”
“Wait. Have you wished your sister a happy birthday?”
Marcos averted his gaze. “Ah...”
“That comes first, then.”
He tried not to groan. “Do I have to?”
“But she hates me.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Because she said so to my face.”
“And did you perhaps do something to provoke her before she said that?”
“No, ensir,” he lied.
Zeff knelt down to look his son in the eye. “Your sister does not hate you. She is merely different from you and the others. You should show your support for her, especially when she is having a difficult time. Understood?”
“Remember this, Marcos: an effective means of measuring a man’s character is by observing how he treats his loved ones. See to it that you may not be measured as such and found lacking.”
Someone should’ve told that to Cisco, Marcos thought. He held his tongue, however, and simply nodded. He watched his father walk away and then proceeded up the stairs.
Emy’s room was on the third floor as well, across the hall from his own. Marcos knocked on the door.
“What is it?” came her voice.
“Uh, I was just wondering how you’re doing.”
There was a pause as footsteps stomped toward the door. She cracked the door open and looked through. “What?” As of today, she was still only two years older than him, but she looked like more than that. It was so unfair that girls got to mature more quickly than boys.
“Listen, I’m sorry about the frog. And the mouse.”
“Mice,” she corrected.
“And the roaches,” she went on. “And the snake.”
“Yeah, those too. Sorry.”
She just eyed him doubtfully.
“And, uh--happy birthday?” Not a question, but he offered it like one.
“Thanks,” she said flatly.
“But you know, the snake wasn’t dangerous. You didn’t have to freak out as much as--”
She slammed the door in his face.
He shrugged and moved on to his room.