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LJ Idol X - Week [10] - Una Caminata

It happened very fast. I came home from school and I only had a little bit of homework, and it was a nice day, so I was going to go with Diego to the beach and look for shells and coins that the turistas lost in the sand.

But just as I put my bookbag down, Mama made me change into pants with extra pockets and a t shirt and a sleeved shirt AND a jacket AND a hat! And she made me put on boots.

Hace mucho calor por este,” I told her.

“Where we’re going it won’t be too hot,” she said.

Then we ran away from the beach and towards the middle of town.

Mama told me there would be a day when we would leave here. She said it many times, but it seemed like a dream that would happen maybe when I grew up.

A freight train was stopped near the town square, and as we got there, I could see some people climbing into one of the cars. A man with a straw hat and a scar on his chin helped Mama and me inside.

It was a little dark but I could see there were maybe veinte other people in the car. The man who helped us didn’t get in. Suddenly, the train jerked and we were moving.

Mama breathed a sigh of relief and nodded at me. “We’re on our way!”

For the longest time there was nothing to see except trees, vines and sometimes a train going the other way.

“Everything will be fine, once you get across the border,” Mama said, smiling at me. “Your Tío and your primos will be waiting on the other side.”

“Once WE get across the border,” I said as the train entered a tunnel.

“Yes, darling,” Mama said, pulling me close to her. I squirmed away.

“I’m not a baby anymore, Mama. I’m nine years old. Almost ten.”

“Almost ten,” she said, just to remind me I still wasn’t. “I know you’re not a baby. That’s why we’re making this trip!”

Mama wanted me to focus only on what was ahead, not what was behind us.

In order for us to go, I had to leave all my things. Mama told me this many times before when we talked about it. I didn’t have many things, just some clothing, my soft blue slippers that I liked to wear when I got out of the bathtub that Mama gave me two Christmases ago. My racecar collection, but I did sneak a couple of my favorite cars in the pockets of the pants I was wearing before I left. My fairy tale book, and a few others, including my diary. And of course, Osito.

I tried hard not to think about Osito. He was always waiting for me on the couch where I slept, always ready for un abrazo. He wasn’t very big but he was too big. We couldn’t carry anything, not a suitcase or even a shopping bag. But, Mama promised that once we got across the border, there would be even more wonderful things waiting.

Giving up Osito was the way of proving I wasn’t a baby anymore.

There were other kids riding along with us. A few were younger than me. I wondered if they got to say goodbye to their other relatives and friends, or if they left without even an hasta luego, like Mama and me. There was almost no talking. I could see the faces of the adults were afraid. Mama just kept smiling at me, so I knew everything was okay.

“Maybe they don’t have un Tío waiting for them.” I said to Mama.

“We’re very lucky,” Mama smiled back.

The clack clack sound of the tracks was loud, and I knew we still had a long way to go. When Mama fell asleep, I crawled over to try to say hello to a couple of the other kids. One boy who caught my eye smiled at me. I took out one of the cars, it was the car from “Volver Al Futuro” and his eyes got big! I guess he saw the movie, too! I rolled it over to him. He caught it! Then, he rolled it back.

We were rolling the car back and forth and it was fun, but then the train started slowing down, and his parents pushed him away. He smiled at me. I rolled him the car back. He picked it up as I crawled back to Mama. He was going to throw it back to me, but I shook my head no. He smiled again and his parents put him between them.

We had to be totally quiet as the train came to a stop. I had practiced not moving at all so I was el mejor. It seemed like we were there for a long time.

We made three stops like that on the way and each time everything went fine, except the second to last, when a little baby started crying. His mama took out her breast and put it in his mouth and that kept him quiet. I laughed a little, but Mama told me not to look.

Maybe the train made another stop or two when I went to sleep. But the next thing I knew, it was morning and we were coming into a big rail yard with a lot of other trains around us.

Mama was looking out and around to see where we were. She took an envelope out of her pocket and looked at a map inside. She showed it to me. It was a hand-drawn map sent by Tío Manuel. We had to go North, toward a barb wire fence. Tío would meet us and get us through!

When the train stopped, Mama waited. The other people quickly left, right away. Mama told me to not move and we stayed quiet, right in the car.

A few minutes later we could hear the sound of people running, horrible screaming, and the call of policía.

Mama shook her head and I understood. Those people were caught. They might be going to jail, even the boy with my car.

As their voices went away, Mama hopped down to the ground, then turned around and reached up for me. I hopped back into her arms and for a moment she squeezed me so tight, I thought I would pop!

We started weaving between the train cars, she was in front, making sure there were no other people in our path.

As we got close to a fence, I could see there was a very dangerous looking man standing, and I jumped back, just as the man turned towards us.

Mama grabbed my hand. “That’s your Tío Manuel! Run to him! ¡Arriba!

It was just straight ahead, and I don’t think I’ve ever run faster. But then, from behind me, I heard Mama.

¡Aquí estoy!” She screamed as I got close to the fence. “¡Aquí estoy, Ven a encontrame!

A guard who I didn’t see near the fence moved towards her voice. “¡Ella esta aquí! ¡Ayuda!

I started to scream out “Mama! Mama!” but before I could, Tío put his hand over my mouth and pulled me through the fence. He put me into a sack and the next thing I knew, we were moving fast. I could peek through the top of the sack and see I was in some sort of truck or van that smelled like fruit and dirt, flying away from the train. After awhile, I fell asleep.

Now I am here. In a place I do not know, with people I do not know, with things I do not know. They promised to take me to La Tierra de Disney and that we could see a movie every week. And that I can have three meals every day. And they bought me new toy cars. And I share a bedroom with two other primos. I do not care about these things. I want to go back to Diego and look for shells on the beach. I want to find Osito waiting for me when I get home from school. I want Mama.


This story was written for LJ Idol, using the prompt Take a hike


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 2nd, 2017 06:35 pm (UTC)
This was very well written, and even more heartbreaking. You did a great job with the voice of the little boy.
Mar. 3rd, 2017 06:20 am (UTC)
I was trying to drop enough Spanish in to give it flavor without having people need to go to Google Translate!

Thanks very, very much. It means a lot!
Mar. 3rd, 2017 10:55 am (UTC)
This is Marvelous!The description helped me connect with the situation.My heart went out for the kid.The voice is perfect. And somewhere I am hoping and wanting to know that he's fine. A great story. I hope you get back to this. Loved it!
Mar. 3rd, 2017 10:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you found it worthwhile.
Mar. 3rd, 2017 11:20 pm (UTC)
The child's voice here is terrific, and the situation of suddenly running away with practically nothing-- having planned for it, but it's still a surprise-- and the journey itself were so well described. The fear and tension of the people on the train came through, the things the little boy missed having, his quick escape while his mother was left behind. We don't know why she didn't go with him, but it appears she never intended to. Perhaps not to put too big a burden on her brother, or improve the chances for her son staying?

There's a finality to a choice like this that most people will never understand.
Mar. 4th, 2017 11:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much. To me, the sacrifice is the element... both mother and son sacrificed something for this, mother sacrificing her current life for her son's future and the son sacrificing everything he knew for a new present. It's not quite O. Henry, but there is a little hint of that.

Of course, we didn't get into all of the reasons why the mother wanted to leave, but her son probably wouldn't have understood that anyway, which was why that element wasn't there. But yes, this is a decision that most parents wouldn't, or at least shouldn't, have to make.

Thanks for reading and for your wonderful compliment!
Mar. 4th, 2017 03:29 am (UTC)
I love the story, it feels as though this was the real experience of a little boy going across the border. It is heartbreaking that he had to lose his mother.
Mar. 4th, 2017 11:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much. The elements of sacrifice really were at the crux of the story, and I hoped to convey that this was the mother's plan the whole time; she was just "escorting" her son, always expecting to make sure he got there safely.
Mar. 4th, 2017 06:21 pm (UTC)
You really created a brave little boy here. Wonderful piece--tough to read in places, but wonderful nonetheless.
Mar. 4th, 2017 06:23 pm (UTC)
Not "tough to read" as in poorly written, but tough to read as in bad things are occurring to the main character.
Mar. 5th, 2017 12:04 am (UTC)
Thanks for a fantastic compliment!
Mar. 5th, 2017 02:40 pm (UTC)
This is heartbreaking. I love that for the kids its an adventure, at least until the end, but the adults its scary the whole time.
Mar. 5th, 2017 10:24 pm (UTC)
As a kid, almost everything is an adventure because nobody tells you what's really going on! Thanks so much for reading and your comment!
Mar. 6th, 2017 03:53 pm (UTC)
Really well-written scene! Your dialogue always reads completely true-to-ear!
Mar. 7th, 2017 02:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, that's very high praise.
Sep. 4th, 2017 10:13 pm (UTC)
Your child's voice is so strong, and his eyes show us clearly what he's going through. Heartbreaking, but with hope as well. We must have hope when our hearts break, or all is lost. Brava!
Sep. 4th, 2017 10:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you so, so much for this comment. There is hope if you can see it, and there is some gain within the loss. That's a tough thing to fully understand if you're nine going on ten, though, and if English isn't your first language!
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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