by Mara Buck
A child's voice echoes in my ears, in my bedroom, in the night, his faint cries weaving within my nightmares. It is a distinct voice, a pleading voice with an accent from the lands to the south, lands of palm trees and chili peppers and hot days and nights with strumming guitars. Lands of machine guns and drugs and terror. Have you heard this voice, too? Or have you heard another? Can we listen closer to these voices so together we can ride our white horses to the border and like a fairy tale gather the children who cry in the night, and transport them to a place when children can still dream the dreams of childhood?Every night Esteban calls to me.
My name is Esteban Gonzalez and I'm scared. I used to be scared of the dark. Now I'm scared of the light that never leaves. It bounces on all the silver blankets. I see spots even when I close my eyes.
And the noise never leaves. Crying. Slamming. Moaning. I moan too. I cry for my Papi.
My Papi used to tell me, "Ask for the jefe to help you." I ask to see the jefe with the tall wife who never smiles with her eyes.
The woman with the keys laughs at me.
"The jefe? You mean El Presidente! He hasn't time for beaners like you, you pissant scum. Your Papi is a criminal in jail forever and you'll be here in this place forever until you die or run out into the desert and rot."
No beaner. My name is Esteban.
I repeat. Esteban Gonzalez. I'm so afraid I'll forget it. If I forget my name, then how will Papi ever find me?
Take me to the jefe and the lady who never smiles with her eyes.
I do not know where I am.
I am Esteban Gonzalez and I am lost.
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Mara Buck writes, paints, and rants in a self-constructed hideaway in the Maine woods. She hopes to leave someday. Winner of The Raven Prize for non-fiction, The Scottish Arts Club Short Story Prize, The Moon Prize. Other recent first places include the F. Scott Fitzgerald Poetry Prize, The Binnacle International Prize. Awarded/short-listed by the Faulkner/Wisdom Society, Hackney Awards, Balticon, Confluence, and others, with work in numerous literary magazines and print anthologies. The ubiquitous novel lurks.