Luz by Debra Thomas

Luz by Debra Thomas

Author:Debra Thomas
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: She Writes Press
Published: 2020-08-05T16:00:00+00:00


Border of Crosses, Desert of Bones

Señor José pulled up in a van shortly after 10:00 p.m. When he swung open the side door, I was surprised to find that the back and middle seats had been removed. “Squeeze in the best you can,” he repeated as two or three squirmed in at a time.

We ended up sitting with our legs drawn up tight, four across, about four-deep with the children leaning on their mothers. We were jostled about for maybe an hour. The pungent smell of body odor left me nauseous and light-headed. Several people kept murmuring prayers, which may have comforted them, but only added a sense of foreboding for me. I wanted to scream for them to stop. I lowered my head between my knees but couldn’t breathe. I lifted my head and gulped some air. I turned to Rosa, whose eyes were comforting. We clasped hands.

The van began to slow and took a sharp turn at an upward angle. Those in the back began to moan as the rest of us slipped back, crushing them. It bumped and scraped, then leveled out and finally came to a stop. “Not a sound!” Señor José said as he turned off the motor and just sat. Everyone seemed to hold their breath as we waited for the door to open.

“What are we waiting for?” I mouthed to Manuel, who shrugged and shook his head.

A child whined, and his mother shushed him. Suddenly a tap came on our door, and it slowly opened. A man motioned us to follow while silencing us with his other finger to his lips.

Within a matter of minutes, we all exited the van, slipped through a hole in a chain-link, barbed wire fence, and began walking hurriedly up hills and through ravines. I thought I heard a car start and a motor fade away. Señor José? Someone else was leading us ahead, so perhaps Señor José was not making the journey with us. He was, after all, the boss, not the mule. Perhaps he would be waiting for us on the other side?

After about thirty minutes, someone asked, “¿Dónde estamos? Where are we? When will we get to the fence?”

A man behind me laughed. “What fence? We crossed already. The gringos’ steel wall is not complete yet. José knows where the holes are.”

“But where is la migra? Aren’t they watching the holes?”

“They can’t watch every hole every minute. But don’t relax yet. We have a long way to go.”

“Shut up you, pendejos!” a voice hissed. “You are inviting la migra to hike with us!”

Manuel walked in front, offering his hand to both Rosa and me when needed. While our eyes adjusted to the darkness somewhat, it was still difficult to make out the path before us. I stumbled over rocks, falling twice. We walked single file most of the way, though occasionally Rosa and I leaned on each other or Manuel held my hand.

I desperately wanted to talk to Rosa. What was she thinking? Everything had happened so quickly, we hadn’t had a chance to really open our hearts.


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