7:00. The roasting plant siren of the coffee cooperative reminds the peasants that a new day has begun. Elizabeth, up since her parents’ departure, prepares breakfast. She lights the wood fire, boils the water, and cooks the frijoles. The beans are of poor quality and take two hours to cook, an hour more than usual. To make tortillas, Elizabeth washes corn boiled the night before and grinds it. It takes ali her strength to tum the mill, and the movement hurts her back. Then she pounds the paste on a flat stone with a rolling pin and shapes it into little cakes with a quick, skillful movement of the hands. The meal will be ready just in time for her father’ s return at nine o’ clock.
Elizabeth is pregnant with her second child. The first, Carlos, was conceived in a moment of passion, as often happens at harvest time. Her lover disappeared after the harvest. The father of the second child, who is already married and has other children, visits her from time to time. Elizabeth never knows when he will arrive or when he will leave. He says that he will take her away, that he will find her a house and take care of her. A passive, withdrawn girl, Elizabeth has chosen to believe him.
Evelyne can’t get warm and is curled up on the ground, her dirty dress wrapped around her legs. She watches the two little boys amuse themselves by seeing who can pee the farthest. With little result, thirteen-year-old Francisca sweeps the porch that serves as a kitchen with a broom made of coffee leaves. The wind eddies and blows, further scattering the ashes and garbage. When Elizabeth and Jesus go off to the harvest, Francisca will look after the house and the children on her own. This morning she does the family laundry.