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Tears of Joy

The woods were growing darker and darker but sleep wouldn’t come to me. The cold was seeping thorough my light pajamas. I hugged John, my hermañito, closer to me. He made his grip tighter around my neck. This is the only way he will sleep since the night of the fire. I still remembered everything so clearly, as if I was still there. As I finally start to doze off, the reality of the past few days slowly comes back…

‘Why won’t my alarm go off?’ I thought as I kept slamming my hand down on the snooze button.

Suddenly I could feel my lungs clouded and tons of extra heat. I forced my eyes open. The house was on fire!!! I ran to the other side of my room and grabbed my sleeping hermaño and his very worn blanket, then covered his face. I could hear my house falling apart and I could see the flames edging closer to my door. I immediately ran to the front door and grabbed the handle burning my hand in the process. I ran outside and found the furthest tree to sit by till the fire department came. Then it hit me; I left my Papí’s letters inside! I set John down and sprinted back into the house, jumping over flaming floors and zig-zagging through flaming debres. I grabbed my pillow, which always has the letters in and ran for my life as my house fell apart behind me.

I got outside just in time to see the fire department get there. I saw a firefighter running up to me.

‘Everyone’s out right?’ he yelled over the blazing fire.

Without hesitation I said, ‘Yes!’ My mom was never home so that just left my brother and I.
It took them about an hour to put the fire out. While they were trying to figure out what started it I started to doze off.

I woke up with a jolt when I couldn’t feel John next to me anymore. At the same time a fireman ran up.

‘Where’s John?!’ I asked frantically.

‘He’s over there playing on the fire truck,’ he answered.

Relief swept through me.

‘Alex?’ he asked, his voice shaking.

‘Yes?’

‘Your mom was the start of the fire. It looks like she fell asleep smoking. W-we didn’t get to her in time.’

I could feel myself turn pale and I felt tears in my eyes. I mean I never liked my mom because she left John and I alone all the time. But, she was still my mom and I still loved her even though she kicked my dad out and wouldn’t ever talk about him.

‘Alex?’ I heard the fireman ask. ‘Are you ok?’

‘Sorry, yes.’

‘We called the SRS,’ he said. ‘They’re going to send a social worker out. She’ll be here in about an hour.’


I nodded. I wasn’t going with a social worker! I knew this day would come, so I already had a plan in the back of my head.

‘I’m going to get my brother and tell him what happened.’ I said.

He nodded and ran back to the other firefighters. I went and got John and took off running towards the woods.

‘Sissy, where are we going?’ John asked.

‘Remember our playhouse?’ I ask him.

I felt him nod.

‘We’re going to stay the night there.’ I tried to sound excited.

‘Yay!’ he exclaimed.

I found the tree and put John on my back. Right when I got to the top I heard the firemen shouting. I could hear my heart pounding and could feel my hands sweating.

John climbed on my lap and gets in his sleeping position.

Good, I thought. Least he’ll be quiet.

We both slept till noon. I woke up hearing dogs in the distance. I climbed out of the tree, put John on my back, and ran and ran and ran.

I woke up with a sweat after remembering all of that.

Where am I? I asked myself. Then I remembered… it was the fifth day being on the run, I have no clue if I’m still in Dallas or if I had finally made it to El Paso, and John and I were super hungry.

I sighed and got out my letters from my Papí.
Phillipo Rodriguez
1582 N. 86th St.
El Paso, Texas 79936

I heard something in the distance; I strained my ears to hear what it was. It was the dogs. The police had sent the dogs to come and find us, again. I instantly got up, put John on my back and started running as fast as I could. I was getting really tired so I slowed down to a speed walk. After two hours of walking I saw a private property sign.

People! I thought as I crossed the line, and went on to the land.

“Hey you!”

I turn and see a man running towards us. I put John down and grabbed his hand.

“What do you think your doing?” he asks. “I know you saw that sign!”

I choose my words wisely while noticing he had had a strong Hispanic accent.

“My hermañito and I got lost and so when I saw the “Private Property” sign I hoped there would be people on it to help us.”

“Well, I can’t be of any help to you,” he said without meeting my eyes.

“Please, will you just tell me if you know this man?” I ask as I hand him the letters.

After a minute of looking at them his head came up slowly. His eyes were full of tears.
“Alexandria?” he asks looking at me.

He looks over at my brother, “Juan?”

I understood right away. I ran straight over to him and gave him a huge hug.

Papí! I thought as he and I cried tears of joy.





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