At Rise: Mauricio hiding in a hole in the desert, behind the brush.
Mauricio: Sometimes, it’s easier this way. Whether to enjoy my sand head buried in darkness. Whether I accept my blind eyes as they make believe that I’m no longer here. I pray that here has become there. Is it okay to think this way? Is it okay to regret this? In the sand, I camouflage myself along the wedges of dirt and sage. I blend as a praying mantis in the soil.
I am a large mantid. Mantids, I think that is the scientific name. Not so easy to hide sometimes.
In Arenal, we would sit at night and the glow of the volcano would make its way to us. We never felt the heat, but we believed we did. A phantom comfort when there wasn’t much to eat. As human beings, it is easy to aspire to the impossible. It is an insult to keep your thoughts and dreams as low to the ground as your shoes. A friend of a friend of a friend says he can get you through the border on a cold night in Juarez. Then second cousin Martin will come from Odessa to drive you in his pick up like dusty luggage left in the sun. He’s legal, he can get by okay. All you have to do is get to El Paso.
Jacinto, my Papa, went first, with the family savings, and he left on the back of Manolito’s maroon minivan at dawn on the second of October. He never knew hugs or his way around one, but he tried that day. He wrapped his arms around me much too tightly and said that he would send for me. His tone flat and distant as if he had already taken off for the United States days ago. El Norte called and he answered. He swam the gutters of six borders and I heard his voice once again. For months, we wondered if he had enough to eat along the way, or if his shoes were holding on, or if he drowned in the big river. My mother was so proud she found his shoes at the flea market two weeks before he left. Barely used boots fit for a long hike at just ten colones! She smiled toothlessly, hiding her sorrow. For years she held that pain of distance and finally he sent for Mama and my sister, to join him in this place called Wichita. So far up North I think you can wave hello to the elves in the winter time. They found their way and that was seven years ago. And I waited in the house with two rooms by the big tree where the tall grass begins. With Abuela Mariella.
She is gone too, you know? She left not long ago.
In the tall grass, there was a praying mantis that would sit still at the sight of me. And we had a staring contest every day after school. I thought it looked me closely and waited for me to make my move to destroy it. But it never flinched. Maybe it didn’t know any better, and hoped the closer the danger, the closer the food. It is a dumb insect after all…
Did you mean to send for me too, Papa? Did you expect me to walk this path like you did? Did you want me to do this on my own?
He hides behind the brush again as headlights approach.
Sometimes, it’s easier this way.