That night Jordan dreamed he was in Mamita’s house.
“Mamita?” he called.
“Aqui, en mi cuarto.” In her room, she replied, her voice bouncing off the walls. The hallway leading to her room was dark, but he was not afraid. He pushed open the bedroom door and there she was. Sitting on her bed. She had a box wrapped in newspaper on her lap.
“Ven,” she patted the bed, motioning for Jordan to sit beside her. The box was all Jordan was interested in. He struggled to get onto the bed; it was huge for little legs to climb. “Abrelo.” Open it.
He didn’t need to be told twice. He ripped the newspaper messily. A Thomas the Train toy was inside. The sides of the toy car were shiny blue, the wheels tiny and spun as Jordan touched them with his finger. Just then the doorbell rang.
“Ay, mi hijito… puedes ir a la puerta, debe de ser tu mama.” Jordan still admiring his new toy, jumped off the bed and went to see who was at the door, like Mamita asked. She was right, it was probably his mom. He opened the door.
“Mami! Look what…” Jordan dropped the toy, it fell between his bare feet.
Behind the screen door stood Jordan’s father, hands in his brown leather jacket, waiting. Jordan stared, unable to move. After a moment, his father took a hand out of his pocket and reached for the doorknob, pulling open the door slowly. Jordan took a step back as his father took a step in. Jordan had forgotten how his neck would hurt after having to look up to his dad, towering above his little son.
“Papi?” Jordan’s voice squeaked, high pitched as he spoke.
His father knelt in front of him, taking off his sunglasses and Jordan looked into his green eyes, he saw the stubble of hair on his face that always tickled him when his dad gave him a goodnight kiss, he saw the sprinklings of freckles across his cheeks, and he saw the small, almost shy smile on his lips. He opened his arms and Jordan fell into them, tears silently running down his face. He smelt the worn leather of his jacket, bringing back memories of camping and eating roasted marshmellows with all the stars twinkling above, wrapped in this jacket. This jacket was still hanging in the closet by the door, as if his papi would one day come back to them and start wearing it. One day it will be Jordan’s.
“Papi, is it really you?” His father kissed his forehead.
“Si, si, It’s me.” He pulled away from his son so he could see his face, taking a large finger and swiping away the big teardrops from Jordan’s cheeks. “Were you expecting someone else?” he said, smiling wider, falling into that easy joking manner he had always had with Jordan.
“I can’t believe it’s you! Mami said we’d never see you again, that you were with the angels.”
Jordan hadn’t been allowed to see his father in the coffin.
“I want him to remember him as he was, Mami! Not lying there, pale and cold,” his mother had said to his grandmother over the phone.
“Baby, look. I want you to come with me, where we can be together. We can do father and son things, hmm?”
“Yordan?” They could hear Mamita coming down the hallway. Jordan turned to look at her when she gasped.
“Que estas haciendo aqui? Tu estas muerto!” Mamita put a hand to her chest, her eyes wide. “No puede ser. Yordan, ven aca.” Mamita reached out to Jordan, asking him to go to her. Jordan didn’t understand, his papi was back after two years dead. He was back and he didn’t seem to have changed at all in that time. What could be so wrong about that?
“I’m here to take him with me, senora,” said Jordan’s father, standing up.
“No! Yordan, por favor…” she grabbed Jordan’s shoulders with both hands, pulling him towards her. His father held on fast to his hands. Jordan was stuck in a tug of war.
“Stop! Stop it!” Jordan yelled. “Please, stop!”
“Yordan.” He looked at Mamita, but her face was blurry, as if he had fuzzy stuff in his eyes.
His room was still dark; the sun hadn’t come out yet.
“Wake up, sleepy head. Did you have a bad dream?” Jordan’s mom sat on the edge of his bed, stroking the side of his face with her soft, cool hands. Sweat plastered his hair to his forehead, his shirt to his chest.
“Mom?” he looked around for his father but he wasn’t there. It had really been just a dream.