The trip is not very long but Jane hardly speaks. Alicia is in the seat beside Miguel Ángel. She almost forces herself on him but Jane doesn’t care. Alicia puts her earphones on and hums to her tunes. There is no conversation except between her Mom and Miguel Ángel’s Dad. Jane is just as happy. She doesn’t want to talk to anyone.
The place is lovely at sunset. The view of Ypacarai Lake is stunning. There are cabins, unpaved streets and a beautiful forest where people can walk. It is paradise. Jane cannot appreciate it at all.
“Would you like to go for a walk along the boardwalk?” Miguel Ángel asks Jane. “It follows along the shore for quite a ways.”
“Sure, I suppose,” Jane replies.
While everyone else is walking through the village, Jane and Miguel Ángel walk on the boardwalk down by the lake. Many people go to this beach. It is called La Rotonda. It is late summer and although it is getting dark, they take off their shoes and socks and dip their feet in the water. They sit on the edge of the boardwalk and enjoy the scenery. Jane feels a bit better. It is good to be able to sit and be quiet with someone, even if he already has a girlfriend. Jane sighs deeply.
“The city is founded in 1880 by German settlers,” Juan Carlos says to Annie. “We should see some of the old houses near the plaza.”
“I would really enjoy that,” Annie says.
“Miguel Ángel,” Juan Carlos, his father, calls from the other side of the boardwalk. “Let’s go sightseeing.”
However, Jane and Miguel Ángel do not hear him. They are intent on the scenery and the quiet conversation while sitting on the boardwalk.
“I´ll get them,“ Alicia said, “They can´t hear us from here.”
She is angry. She runs toward the dock with a plan already in mind. Alicia doesn´t like Jane. She wants Miguel Ángel for herself.
“Hey guys,” she says as she comes up to them. “Miguel, your father needs to talk to you. He is in the town square. Go and I will stay here with Jane.”
“Okay, “ Miguel Ángel says and he walks quickly toward the plaza.
Alicia sits next to Jane. She turns around to make sure that Miguel Ángel is gone. She puts her arm around Jane´s shoulder. The two of them have their legs dangling in the water. It is deep at that point and very cold.
“This lake is so beautiful! Don’t you think so Jane?” Alicia asks as she pulls Jane’s neck to her a bit roughly as if she wants to strangle her just a little bit. Which she does.
“You know Jane?” Alicia looks at Jane’s face. “I love my country. Look at this lake for example. Many people have drowned here, but I’m not afraid. It´s very beautiful. “
“Very beautiful…” Jane repeats as she shakes Alicia’s arm off her shoulder and moves a bit further away.
“Jane! Look out!“ Alicia shouts. ”There´s a wasp on your head!” Alicia hits her hard on the head and Jane falls into the water.
Alicia smirks as Jane hits the cold water and begins to flounder around. Jane knows how to swim, but falling into the ice cold lake takes her by surprise.
“What did you do? Are you crazy or what?” Jane shouts at Alicia, as she grabs her cell phone from her back pocket and holds it above the water.
Alicia watches from the boardwalk and laughs.
“Forgive me, Jane,” she says. “I didn’t mean to do that, but the wasp was going to sting you. I’ll go for help.” Alicia walks slowly towards the town square in the distance. She doesn’t try to help Jane herself.
Jane is a good swimmer. She looks toward the shore a half mile away at the end of the boardwalk. It is the only place she knows where she can get out of the water. Maybe she will find a ladder somewhere along the way to get up on the boardwalk. She presses her arrowhead tightly and swims.
In a few minutes she reaches a small beach and gets out of the water. It is dark, but she can see some lights through the trees. It is the lights of the town square and the cafe. She walks back toward where she falls into the water to retrieve her socks and shoes and then walks on bare feet towards the lights.
She sees her Mom and Miguel Ángel´s Dad, Juan Carlos, sitting and talking in the cafe but she doesn’t see Miguel Ángel or Alicia. Jane is now certain that Alicia has lied. But why? Did she really just try to drown her?
“Mom!“ she shouts as she walks carefully into the square, trying to avoid the stones on the sidewalk, soaked to the skin, water dripping everywhere.
“What happened? Why are you all wet, sweetheart? Annie asks her. “Are you alright?”
At that moment, Miguel Ángel arrives with Alicia right behind him.
“I was looking for you, Jane,” he says. “Alicia told me you were…”
“…in the café in the town square,” Alicia interrupts. “I went looking for help because Jane had fallen into the water.”
“You never said….”
“Are you alright?” Alicia asks, interrupting Miguel Ángel.
Everybody looks at Alicia, who is smiling innocently. Why go looking for Miguel Ángel when they were all right there in the square ready to help? Jane’s eyes narrow. She is wet, but fine.
“It was just an accident,” she says. “I’m okay and the water temperature is fabulous.” She giggles. For some reason she is happy.
“Well, let’s get you out of those wet clothes, dear,” says Annie, her mother. “You can put your school clothes on again. They are in your backpack.”
“There is a bathroom in the cafe,” says Miguel Ángel’s Dad. “Alicia, why don’t you show them the way.”
Jane picks up her bag and goes with her mother to change her clothes. She glares at Alicia’s back as they follow her through the restaurant to the back where the bathrooms are. Now Jane knows what Alicia is really like, but she is too smart to act like her. She just has to wait for the right time to get back at Alicia, or, better yet, to forget all about her. After all, it is now obvious that Miguel Ángel is interested in her and not in Alicia. Maybe she isn’t his girlfriend anymore. Jane is happy that Alicia feels threatened by her.
That night in San Bernardino is wonderful. The party is fantastic. They are in the Alps Bar near the town square. Many of her classmates have arrived. She meets a lot of new people. There is music, delicious food and lots of fun. Jane and Miguel Ángel dance together all night. There is upbeat music and also slower, more romantic music. They dance and hold each other close.
Alicia is nowhere to be found. Whatever mischief she has planned seems to have backfired. Miguel Ángel will not let Jane out of his sight. He is protecting her.
Jane feels the arrowhead on her cheek as she rests her head on Miguel Ángel’s chest. She leans back and takes it in her fingers and turns it over. She can read the back of the arrowhead. It says “Arni.” She looks up at him with a question in her eyes.
Why did Miguel Ángel have an arrowhead like hers, and more importantly, why was her father’s name written on it. Who else could it be? Did it belong to Miguel Ángel? How did he get it?
But Miguel Ángel has no idea of what Jane is thinking. Jane does not ask him anything. She just closes her eyes and feels the magic of the moment.
“Kids! We’re leaving now!” Jane’s mother shouts from the table.
The bus is waiting outside. Just like in the story of Cinderella, twelve o’clock midnight marks the end of the fairy tale.