Word Count: 58,000
Moving to Texas—devastating.
Outdoing her perfect, Americanized big sister—impossible.
Holding it all together—harder than surviving middle school.
Twelve-year-old Graciela longs for the past, but a tragic accident helps her embrace her present.
I miss the open skies of Mexico. Instead, when I look out our windows I get to admire black tightrope wires that connect to tall wooden posts, tangoing with tree branches and covered with blackbirds. Even after three years here, it’s something I’ll never get used to – the feeling of a prison.
This is why I hardly ever look outside my window anymore. But today, the motor of Papí’s truck screeches, and then click, click, clicks. He’s trying to get it started so he can leave to work, but it won’t budge. This is the second time this week. Maybe it doesn’t like to wake up. Same as me. Because waking up reminds me that I’m here. In America. And there’s nothing I can do about it.
After three years here, my hope is giving out. Same as the truck. It never did this back in Mexico. The truck I mean. Even it knows better. Texas isn’t home. I climb down from the top bunk and press my forehead against the cool window. My tired eyes blink at the new sun.
Papí rests his head on the steering wheel. The truck looks glum under the shade of the driveway’s canopy. He tries to bring it to life again. Its rusty body shudders and stops.
I know exactly what he’s doing in that truck. He’s gently pumping the gas a few times, begging it to start. “Ándale, mi niña.” He’ll say in Spanish. This means, “Come on, my little girl.”