What Might Kill Us(3)

By: M.N. Forgy

He sits on the bed, the weight causing me to shift. Taking his hat off, he places it beside him. Sweat slips down his forehead just as he pulls a green bandana from his back pocket and dabs his forehead. All of his men have that bandana, you’re not a part of his crew unless you carry one and not just anyone carries one, you have to earn it.

“I know you’re wondering why I’ve kept you all these years, Anahi. Why I took you in when your father died. To be honest I didn’t know what to do with you in the beginning. That’s partly the reason why you’ve been locked in here all this time,” he states, his hands gripping the side of the mattress as he looks down. “You’re obviously not my own and I can’t just accept anyone off the streets and into my home, but I’m a businessman.”

I snarl at that. I’m not just anyone. I’m his brother’s child. His own flesh and blood. Hell, I even came over here and played with his daughter every weekend growing up.

The door creaks open and a man walks in that looks familiar, but I can’t quite place him. As he gets closer my spine stiffens at the recognition of the laughing skull tattoo on his bicep. He’s the one that forced me to bathe the first week we were here. He was strong and vile. He picked me up as if I weighed nothing and threw me in the bathroom, locking me in there until I washed. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a very clean person. Showering wasn’t a daily chore for me, but a twice a day choice. Plus, I had the most expensive hair products to ensure my hair had a perfect shine. But when I was placed in this prison getting a shower felt like I was submitting, surrendering to the fact that nobody else was coming for us as all my enemies screamed defeat.

I stayed adamant that I would fight against them, until I could no longer. On week two I gave in.

A little piece of me died that day. Sitting at the bottom of the aqua blue tile, my tears mixing with the droplets from the showerhead.

“Alvaro, go with Potzi,” Uncle Benito commands. Alvaro glances over his shoulder at me with a blank expression. I reach for him, scared to be in here by myself with my uncle, but Alvaro doesn’t notice. His focus on everything but me as he follows Potzi.

The door closes loudly after them, echoing throughout the room.

“Anahi, what is it you want most?” Uncle Benito questions as he pulls a cigar from the lip of his fedora. He brings one end to his mouth, his lips wrapping around it slowly as he bites the end off and lights it up with the lighter he pulled from his pocket seconds before.

I’m caught off guard by his question, my eyes rising with surprise.

“You know, dreams? Do you have any? Goals?” Uncle Benito continues after he senses my confusion. His left hand wafting through the air with a huge cigar tucked tightly between two fingers.

I clear my throat and blink through the smoke. My only dream was to leave Mexico and explore America, the place my mother told me about as a child. The whole reason we would practice English every Sunday in a fort of blankets in my room.

Until she died that is. It wasn’t until I was much older I was told my mother was shot to death in a drive by shooting. Retaliation from my father’s wrongdoings. What exactly that consisted of, I don’t know.

A newspaper clipping showed balloons that had escaped my mother’s lifeless hand and were dancing their way into the sky.

She was shopping for my birthday. Spending hours of her time and energy planning the perfect gifts and party plans to celebrate my special day.

I mourn my birthday instead of celebrating it now. Guilt tugs on my heart that maybe if she didn’t go shopping for my birthday she’d still be alive. I was told it wasn’t my fault, and have accepted that to some degree, but still, if she wasn’t out on that day, at that time for me. Maybe she would still be alive.

When my father died, I didn’t shed a tear. I blamed him for my mother’s death and could hardly stand to look at him. His death only serving to show me how quickly things can change. And change they did.

“Tell me, Anahi,” he hedges, sensing I’m holding something back.

I shrug before muttering, “I want to go to America,” my accent coming out thick.

He laughs. The sound making my dreams feel stupid. I cross my arms, tucking into myself. Feeling idiotic at the thought of ever getting the chance to step foot on American soil.

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