Tuesday Morning

Jaime Jimenez slapped at the alarm clock, cutting off Miley Cyrus mid-word. The morning came into his life like a wrecking ball, destroying the pleasant dreams of kissing Maria Lopez at her quinceañera. The plaid curtains failed to stop the sunlight peeking in through the bedroom window. He reluctantly forced himself from his comfortable bed.

(Dawn crested the horizon, gently at first with soft pinks and hazy oranges, before the bright golden disk rose from slumber. Gambel's quail paused their cooing conversation as Rafael Sanchez emerged from the crevice formed between sandstone boulders, wearily pulling his heavy, scuffed backpack onto his shoulders. He determinedly set off north.)

Jaime sat down for breakfast at the crowded kitchen table. His siblings and cousins scrabbled for food from the heaping plates in the center. Squawking and squealing accompanied the boisterous ritual. The television blared the morning news in Spanish, competing with the animated conversation between aunts, uncles, and parents. Jaime reached eagerly for the steaming plate of huevos rancheros, his stomach rumbling.

(The lonesome silence stretched through the empty desert. Rafael crouched in the shade of a Piñon tree and burned off the spines and hairs from a prickly pear. Hunger gnawed at his stomach. He knew from YouTube what was safe to eat in the wild. He missed his mother's cooking.)

Jaime trudged behind the others, backpack heavy with textbooks. Cars zipped along the busy street, Latin music vying with rap pumping through the open windows. He slogged past the bodega and cafes that walked with him every morning on his way to school. He could see the chain link fence and open school gates swarming with students. He slowed his pace. An agonizing seven hours of classes awaited. He hoped he'd survive.

(Rafael could see the scraggly wire fence bisecting the open desert, with a well-traveled dirt road on the opposite side. He turned his head, searching in both directions. Only the flies kept him company in the desolate stretch of land. He picked up his pace, rushing to the fence separating him from the United States. In seven hours, he'd reach the nearest town. He hoped he'd survive.)