Milagro set the pictures down on the coffee table. It was unsettling, in a way. For ten years, Mila had lived with the fact that her older brother ran away, possibly even died. Which, unfortunately, was something much too common where they lived.
She never understood why. Jaime had always been happy. He talked about how he wanted to make their parents proud- be the first to go to college and be a doctor or dentist or something with a PHD. Mila had admired Jaime's passion. Then Jaime was gone. He left.
It had left Mila feeling, for lack of better words, sad. Regretful. Maybe she had done something that made her big brother go away? She had missed him so, so much. She began sleeping in his room and even wearing his clothes.
As she got older, she became angry with her brother. Jaime was the one who wanted to be better, to make his family proud, yet he was a coward and ran off like a punk. He had a loving family, unlike others who ran off, he had goals. And he ruined everything for himself. Why would he even leave? It made no sense. Maybe he was mad at Papa and wanted him to be sad. Who knows.
It wasn't long before her anger dissipated. What did Mila know? Maybe Jaime was mixed into crap he never told them about, maybe he was forced to leave, maybe he was killed and everybody just assumed the wrong thing. She hoped it was none of those.
In ten years, she had so many mixed emotions about her brother. Eventually, she learned to be in peace with it all. Mila would never really know what happened to her brother. It was horrible, but others she knew were in the same situation.
Imagine her surprise when a boy her age climbed into her window- her brothers old room- and he was her older brother. He was Jaime- with that horrible little beard and long hair and raspy voice. Except he wasn't twenty-seven, wasn't a man. He was as he was when he left- seventeen.
Mila had cried the day he returned. She slept in a different room, curled up in a ball, the family dog next to her, crying into the dogs fur. She could hardly believe it. Even in the world where there were people with powers, she never expected her brother to come home, as though no time had passed.
Jaime came and then abruptly left. To Central City to meet The Flash. It was a long shot in Mila's eyes, but Jaime had always dreamed big.
He sent the pictures through the mail, like he was eighty. It was hilarious; it was sad, that Jaime came back to a world that wasn't quite the same.
She rubbed her forehead and yelled back, "Yeah? Coming!" Mila sighed through her nose as she got up off her bed, out her room, and to whichever room her father was in. He was in the kitchen, holding a glass of water. "Yeah?"
"Paco and Brenda called, said they're coming over." He said as he set his glass down. Mila nodded, not really seeing why her dad called her to tell her this.
Paco and Brenda visited often. They were Jaime's old best friends. When Jaime first disappeared, the both of them went their separate ways and lived life. It was when they were twenty-two when they both showed up at the house, on the same day, to see how the Reyes family fared. Mila appreciated how they stuck around after that.
Paco and Brenda were both as much affected by Jaime's disappearance as Mila and her father were.
"Ah, okay Daddy. I'll go clean the living room a bit then," Mila stood on her tip toes kissed her father's cheek. She didn't actually do much before there was a knock on the door.
Mila opened the door to let Paco and Brenda inside. Brenda held Diego, their son, on her hip. He was two years old, his third birthday coming up in a few months. Brenda's red hair was up in a ponytail that Diego was successfully putting inside his mouth.
"Hola! Como estas?" Milagro opened the door wide, letting the small family inside.
Brenda hugged her first, "Bien, bien, we've been good. Diego, say hi to Tia Milagro."
Diego kept his mothers hair in his mouth as he mumbled "hola Tia Mila." The teen gave him a kiss on the top of his head, his little brown curls tickling her nose.
Paco was a large man, had been large since he was a kid. His hugs enveloped Mila, warm and hard, making her feel as though she was going to disappear. The man let go, smoothed his mustache. "Hey Milagro. How's everything been round here? Where's your dad?" Paco sat next to his wife with a small groan.
How was everything here? They had Jaime back, and lost him (in a sense) again. It brought back feelings Mila thought she was over with. Should she keep it a secret, that Jaime was back, alive, happy?
"Um. It's been good. A lot has happened since your last visit. You have no idea. And my dad's probably in the bathroom or something." Mila sat in the sofa across from them, leaving her father's arm chair alone. The dog, Torro, strolled up from someone in the house and laid his head on Mila's knee, staring at her. Mila set her hand on his head, petting slightly.
Diego giggled when he saw Torro, climbing off his mother and onto the floor to pet the dog.
"You started senior year, huh?" Brenda had a far away look in her eyes- her senior year was the year she moved to Mexico, the first school year without Jaime.
Mila nodded. Torro let Diego climb onto his back and feel his fur. "Yeah."
Just then, her father walked into the living room, clutching something in his hand. Mila looked closer. Is that what-
"Are you sure?" She found herself saying.
Alberto scratched his stomach. "They are family. They deserve to know." Mila breathed in and nodded.
"What is it?" Paco glanced between father and daughter.
Mila simply answered "Jaime. He's alive." The couple stared at her in shock.
"He? He sent pictures? After all these years?" Brenda's freckled nose was turning red.
She thought what Mila would have thought. Jaime had ran away and was living a new life without explanation. Alberto pressed the photos into Paco's open hands. Paco stared at the first one before shaking his head.
"I. Is this a joke Alberto?" He flipped to the next picture, his jaw suddenly slack.
Mila knew which one it was, she had stared at it for hours. The Flash, in his red suit, had his arm slung around Jaime, a grin on his face. Both their faces.
"He's in Central City. He's- like one of those heroes. He thought he was gone for a day only," Alberto explained, pointing at the picture. Brenda stared at the picture before setting her jaw and saying, "Paco, we're going to Missouri."
"Qué?" Paco raised an eyebrow at his wife.
The red head clutched the fabric of her dress. "We are going to see Jaime." She leveled her gaze at her husband. Brenda had always been stubborn as a mule and would only break when it came to Diego and Jaime.
"Central City is big Brenda and who even knows where Jaime is? It's just not possible baby!" Paco reasoned. Brenda lifted an eyebrow and her husband sighed and lifted his arms. "Fine, fine! We'll talk about it- later."
Mila knew it was final. Maybe she should call him and tell him they would be coming up there. Or- no. She wouldn't. The couple stayed for the next hour, still in shock and looking over the pictures Jaime sent.
When they left, Mila gathered up the pictures. There were some old picture frames in one of the closets, she knew that. She found them hidden behind some old rolled up blankets that they pulled out in the cold months or when people stayed over.
The first to be framed and put up was Mila's favorite picture Jaime sent. It was his profile. His hair was up in a ponytail and he was glancing at his hands. She felt sad looking at the photo- he seemed so lost. She supposed he was. In a world ten years in the future with so many things changed.
Maybe it was odd that she felt comfort, seeing Jaime just as lost as she had been her whole life. Mila smiled to herself before setting the picture on the coffee table in the hallway with other pictures of the family. She stared at it for a second before turning and walking back to her room- Jaime's old room.