It’s dusty. There’s so much dust that the air is literally brown and it dries out my throat with every breath. I hate days like today that remind me that the small area along the Mexican border is hell upon Earth.
I should hate my mother for bringing me here. I want to, but I can’t. She did what she thought was best when my father left us. I miss Georgia, though. I miss the house we lived in. The smell of the magnolia trees after the rain. The taste of the air. It’s all so different from here. I look at the small adobe-and-block shelter we are staying in. It’s not a house. You can’t call it that. There are big holes in the sides where walls should be. Our bed consists of a mattress that my madre sewed and filled with dried cornhusks. One day, I vow I shall have my own home and it shall have the softest beds imaginable. They shall be the best money can buy and my madre will have the very softest of them all. I will have magnolia trees all around the house and you can see them from every window. Madre will be so proud. I will make sure of it.
Most of all—I will never be alone as I am now. Mi mama is forced to leave me alone to go into town to work. I don’t mind it so much because, as young as I am, I can still take care of myself. It’s the silence that gets to me. At nine years old, there’s never anyone here to talk to. All the other kids have gone into town to work or to school. I wanted to, but mama said she felt safer with me here.
So I sit here in the quiet and wait… Wait and dream.
Someday, I will return to Georgia. I will find the girl of my dreams. She will have hair like spun gold and eyes that capture me and remind me of the bluest sky there is. Bluer than even the one I saw in Montana when my father took us there. Most of all, my girl will laugh all the time because I will always make her happy. We will fish and hold hands. I’ll have to put the worm on her hook because that kind of stuff grosses girls out. Then we will tell each other stories. Scary ones, because those are the best. She’ll probably get scared because girls are like that too. I’ll have to hold her and promise to make the bad dreams go away, just like mi madre does for me.
Well, she used to. I’m much too old for bad dreams now. I’m the man of the household. I’m strong. I have to be so I can defend my family. I will only get stronger, too. A man doesn’t deserve a family if he can’t keep it safe. I will.
I will be the man mi padre never could be. I will cherish all the things he threw away, and mi esposa will never cry at night like I hear my own mother do. I will always dry her tears and make her happy. Just like I do with mi madre.
This is my promise. This is my vow. I will not become the dog mi padre is… Never.
“Boss? You ready?”
I shake the memory of my childhood away. I’m standing in my room looking out the window and watching the dust swirl around. Maybe it’s the wind that brings old ghosts and memories to the forefront. More likely it is the memory of Beth’s tears last night. I stood outside and listened to her cry. Her tears brought me dual sensations of hate and satisfaction. She deserves to cry. She deserves to feel pain. Yet perversely, I wanted to be the one to dry them. I wanted to pull her into my arms and…
And what? Forgive? There are things that cannot be forgiven in this world. Actions that cannot be undone. There are courses set in life that cannot be altered, no matter how you might wish them.
“Si. Did Dragon’s men get here?”
“Yeah. They made it here about twenty minutes ago. He sent ten of his men. Dragon is with them. He seems to be planning on staying.”
“I’ll talk to him in a minute,” I tell Sabre, unable to look at him. I’m mad at him. I shouldn’t be. It’s a sad fucker who can’t be glad his brother is happy.