In the hospital in Kandahar, Soledad was treated for a deep wound to the shoulder, blood loss, and infection. Her mind returned to the cloud, the choking black smoke and sand, the Taliban fighters she had killed. Several days passed before the doctors decided she was stable enough to learn about her daughter’s rape. Luz was still alive then, but it would be more than a week before Soledad was allowed to travel, and by that time Luz would have jumped in front of the train. Soledad feared that Luz had been angry with her for leaving her with her grandmother, for not being there to make everything all right.
Where was this girl’s mother? the people at home had said.
Until her weeping trio of sisters met her at the airport, Soledad didn’t fully believe that Luz’s suicide was real. When she arrived home, a photographer took a photo that ran across the wires: Army reservist Soledad Ayala arrives home in Santa Mariana, north of Los Angeles. Soledad went into the house and closed the door. Her mother was in bed, sedated and barely conscious, being tended to by relatives from out of town. She didn’t want to see her mother, who had failed Luz