UNDERGROUND VOICES: FICTION

CHRIS DEAL

Juarez

It was the year of Ana's Quinceanera that she asked her mother for the right to go to work. They had left the crowded bank,

the lobby full of police and narcos and small men and women who kept their eyes down and mumbled quietly, their Spanish tinted with indigenous accents, the same as Ana and her mother. The money they deposited had come from Ana's father and brother. The day after Ana's celebration, her brother left to join their father in the wilderness across the border.

You cannot work. You have school.

I can work after. The maquiladoras have shifts from four until eleven.

No.

Their home was too quiet without the men. Though more than the shack they left in Tabasco when Ana was still suckling from her mother, their home now was still less than the house in the pictures her father sent back. Seven rooms rumbling with life. Ana was afraid to take a step in their home, fearful each vibration would shatter the building to nothing.

There are predators here in the city, her mother said. The wolves will tear you apart.

Rosalinda works in a maquiladora. She has for months.

I am not Rosalinda's mother, I'm yours.

If I go to the factory, I can save more money to bring father and brother back.

Hija de tu madre.

Ana hated Ciudad Juarez, hated the fear of dying whenever she left for school. The narcos killed anyone they wanted, even if they had no call for it. When they ate their morning's beans and tortillas, Ana's mother would tell her the news she heard from their neighbor woman whose husband was also up North. Another girl found dead and burned. Beheadings near the border, police and Americans. Ana hated these stories even more than the stories her father and brother sent back. She knew her father was fucking a woman who wasn't her mother. Perhaps her brother had taken to the drink like so many of the other men who went north. She wanted them back, she wanted to leave the city and go home, to their real home.

In the morning, before her class, Ana told her mother that she would be going with her friend, Alona, to study in the library after class. Ana's mother knew that her daughter would be getting on a bus and heading to the dirty streets around the maquiladoras, where she would ask for a job. Ana's mother prayed all night, into the morning, and the next night, but there was no sign from Ana and no letter from her husband. When she went to the payphone she could not get through to him or her son. Ana's mother wanted her men and her girl to come home.

An old man with a face of dust and sun found the girl, prone and open before the uncaring sky. She was twenty feet from the town.









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