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Here’s a little bit of something that I’m working on now that Via Serica is almost done.  Let me know what you think.

December 18

Southeastern Arizona

Lupita threw the dirty diaper under a creosote bush and rubbed her hands in the sandy soil to clean them. Tomaso, the guide her husband had paid to guide them across the border, had called a halt to rest in an arroyo, and she had taken the opportunity to give the children something to eat and to change the baby.  There was no moon to light the cold desert night, but the clear sky was lit up with millions of stars, and she could make out the faces of the twenty or so other people who were making the journey north.  They were bunched up in small groups, mainly families, but several contained the single men who were making the journey to seek work.

Juan, her brother-in-law, passed over a container of water, which she brought to her lips with a murmured thanks.  Tomaso had told them to keep quiet, especially the children, and every time the baby had whimpered, he had hissed at her to shut him up.

“How much longer?” she whispered to Juan.  He had made the trip several times before, and was the one who had convinced her husband that she and the little ones could make the journey to join him at his job in Arkansas.

“We’re over the border,” he answered, “It’s a few more hours into the mountains, then we’ll rest for the day.  Tomorrow night, we’ll be in Tucson, then onto a bus for the rest of the trip.”

“Thank the Virgin Mother,” Lupita said, crossing herself.  The weariness of walking across the wide valley in fits and starts, all while making sure she didn’t lose one of the children, was taking its toll on her.  She looked to the north and saw the bulk of the mountains blocking out the stars.  Even though the thin mountain air was chilly in the December night, Lupita felt hot under a thin coating of sweat that ran down between her shoulder blades and down her chest.  The baby was heavy, and the work it took to keep the other two children moving fast enough to not get left behind was draining her.

Up into those?, she thought, picking the baby up and offering it her breast, You never said anything about mountains.  She leaned back against a rock and closed her eyes for a few moments as she felt the infant start to suckle.

Tomaso stood up and looked to the south.  Juan followed his gaze down the path they had followed up from the border, but saw nothing.  After a few moments, Tomaso shook his head and hissed, “OK, let’s get moving.  Keep quiet, for God’s sake!”  He watched as his charges got up and started straggling back into line, then started off toward the mountains.

Lupita took up the nylon cord she and Juan had tied around the children’s middles and started walking.  Little Carlos took his sister by the hand as they followed their mother up the slope of the first hills.

The incline got gradually steeper as the line of migrants straggled along in the dim starlight, and Lupita and her children were soon the last in the column again.  Even Juan left them a few yards behind as they climbed into the rolling foothills of the Chiricahuas.

Every so often, Lupita thought she could hear a clink or the heavy fall of a foot tripping over a rock behind her, but when she paused to gaze back down the path, she could see nothing.  Every time, she would shrug, give the rope connecting her to little Carlos a tug, and continue trudging uphill.

Finally, they crested the first ridge of the mountains, and Tomaso led them down into a small valley with stunted trees and bushes.  The big man wiped sweat from his face with the back of his hat and told them to rest for a while.  Lupita almost fell to her knees as the rest of the group stopped to rest, and little Carlos lay down and fell immediately to sleep next to her.  Little Sofia stood next to her, her thumb firmly planted in her mouth.  Lupita took her hand from the sleeping form of the infant and ran it down her daughter’s long, dark hair.

“Just a little further tonight,” she whispered in soothing voice, “then we can stop and rest.”  The little girl just nodded and continued to suck her thumb.

From up the hill they had just descended, she heard a series of clinks, then she thought she saw dim green lights bobbing in the darkness.  Juan heard it too, and hissed to Tomaso.  The guide stood up, drawing the pistol he carried in a holster on his wide leather belt.

“Who’s that?” he demanded loudly, pulling back the hammer on the big revolver.

Lupita clasped her children to her breast and turned her back as she heard several metallic clicks coming from the hillside.

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  1. Nice! 🙂 Looking forward to seeing what you do with it!


  2. John in Philly

     /  August 11, 2015

    OK, you have engaged my interest.


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