Write On!

Twisted Sister, part 2

In Responses on June 22, 2012 at 6:17 pm

by Tara Wiley

My ear is on fire, every rush of blood through my veins threatening to burst through hot, swollen flesh. I roll to a sitting position and the pounding sensation spreads through my scalp, deep under my skull, and for a moment, the pain supersedes any other awareness. My eyes are still closed; I am afraid to open them, but I press through the pain, needing to know: Where am I? What happened?

Sounds begin to enter through the fog before sights accompany them. At first, my incomprehension of jumbled words alarms me – have I suffered some kind of traumatic brain injury? – until a few crass Spanish words drift over me. The recognition sends a shock of adrenaline through my system, and the fog immediately lifts. Rusty bars barricade the buzzing florescent lights above, and the theme of barricading bars repeats downward in place of walls. Slowly the reality hits me: I am in a Mexican jail. Hispanic women in various states of consciousness surround me. The cell is swarming with them, and I have no doubt that my fair skin and dishwater blonde hair send the message she is not one of us before my words can confirm any suspicion.

Something is poking my thigh through the pocket of my tattered khaki pants (and whose blood is that? I wonder as I notice the rusty red stains on my blouse echoed by spatter on my thighs). I stand cautiously, my head still banging. I quickly empty the pocket’s contents onto the bench behind me and sit back down before the dark closes in over me again. I find the culprit of the poke, a single dangly earring, and it rushes back to me in a flood. A flight for my life, a scrambling thrashing of hands and feet and cries for help, and now I know why my ear hurts: the earring’s match was yanked through the thin flesh of my earlobe in the middle of the struggle. I hope this alone explains the blood, but I cannot know for sure.

There beside my earring is a crumpled receipt, and I scour it for more insight than my foggy brain seems to be able to recall. Black smudged ink across the top reads Texaco with a Brownsville address listed beneath. Brownsville! Wasn’t I in Rockwall yesterday, cleaning house, waiting for my daughters to come home from school and my husband to return from work, a simple suburban housewife? Yesterday – ah yes, cleaning house: the phone, the call, the reconnection with Darian. I never should have met up with him again. How could I be surprised this is where it landed me? I hope it has only been a day. My family must be worried sick!

It begins to roll back through my mind like a made-for-TV movie: the meetup in the Panera parking lot. The clunker rolling up behind my brother as we stand there speaking, a muzzle flash, and then Darian is pushing and pulling me towards my innocent white Toyota Camry. He shoves me in the back seat and grabs the keys from my hand, and we scream from the parking lot while I pray no one from the school board sees this. Somehow he loses the clunker amidst wild turns and lurching starts and stops, and then we are on the open highway headed south, and my screams give way to fierce, focused rage.

If only this fog in my head would clear so I could see what happened next.

I search for more clues in the contents of my pocket. There’s a partially used roll of Tums – ah yes, Darian told me to take several before we crossed the border to see his nefarious friends. Protection from the crud sure to be in the food we were about to eat. I remember this trick from a previous life.

I don’t remember how we got into Mexico, but I remember the meetup in a field under the cloak of darkness. I remember my brother arguing in deeply punctuated Spanish phrases as I hide behind a glob of scrub brush, hoping the moon stays hidden behind the clouds. It doesn’t, and then I am revealed, and a man shouts, and I am running running running for my life. And where is my brother in all of this? Why is he not helping me? I do not know. I just run, but they are fast, and they grab me and we fight. I hear my father’s voice then, in those days as a scared young preteen right before he disappeared.

“When they come, and they will come, darling, believe me, they will –“ Dad would nearly snarl as he turned into whoever ‘they’ were, grabbing my upper arm to squeeze a response from me. “You must fight then, sweetheart. You must fight, so I will teach you how to fight. Break free now. How? No, don’t be nice, do it for real. What did I teach you? Remember!” You have not won until the enemy is on the ground under your foot.

And so, with Daddy as my inner coach, I enter into the fight he told me would inevitably come to me. I was only a suburban housewife but I took kickboxing classes three days a week and by God, I was going to use the sweat of those hours to fight. But they were three and I was one and then there were sirens and shouts – Policia! Policia! Vamanos! – and I am alone, in a field in who knows where, with a neatly cellophane-wrapped block of who knows what drug at my feet.

The women around me are beginning to rouse, and instinctively I know I am as unsafe here as I was out there, so I rush to the front of the holding cell and begin to string together words from the recesses of my memory.

“Soy Americano! Quiero telephono, por favor! Mi familia… Por favor!!” As I scream, the women begin to cackle and taunt. I shake the bars, raise my voice, and am nearly in hysterics when a very American, well dressed man comes towards me with Mexican officers flanking him. He purses his lips into a tight line as he stares at me. He is clearly not pleased with me, though I do not know why, and he nods to the men who open the gate just enough for me to squeeze through before the surge of flesh behind me can press out as well. I am silently led to an interrogation room.

I would love to tell you the story that was laid out before me then. I would love to explain to you how this stranger opens up holes in my history that I had accepted as long black spaces never to be filled. I could tell you how he fills those holes with explanations that remove all the solid ground beneath my feet, replacing it with webs of deceit and redirection.

But to tell you would be to relive it again, and right now, I am sitting in my Toyota Camry in an impound lot in Brownsville, wiping Texas dirt off the dashboard, wondering where I go next, because to go home would be a lie, and to stay here would be impossible. I reach under the seat where the American said I would find what I needed, and there is a key, and a phone, and a drivers license with my picture and someone else’s name on it, and a credit card with the same name, and I say to myself, “Gillian. Gillian, drive.” And I go.

  1. Awesome and so fun to read! You might have to skip the prompts and keep writing this!

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