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Jalapenos

I used to live in Mexico until I ran away. Far away. We were a family of four. I had a brother and of course my parents. My brother was always favored by my parents. I mean I can’t blame them; he was good in everything. He always made my parents proud. When I would get 2nd place in the science fair, he would get 1st place. Same for the spelling bee. One day we got a phone call. My mom started crying.

I asked her,”What’s wrong?”

But she just shook her head and cried more. Soon, I figured out why. We moved into a trailer and sold our house. My mom has been going to work more often now. I began to notice piles and piles of payments to make, and that is when I decided to leave.

Kids in my school always talked about living in America, but they didn’t know they weren’t allowed. I never thought I would go to America, but I guess destinies change. I was sixteen when I left. I hitched a ride on a truck going to America. They probably think I didn’t notice, but I saw that they kept glancing at me every second like I was some kind of bother or annoyance. This truck was my only hope, so I held on. I’ve been on the run for 5 years now. It seems easy, but it's not. It has always been like this. Everywhere I go, I feel like I’m being judged and dismissed just because of my race. That's when I arrived at Cleveland, Ohio. When you don’t have a citizenship to get a proper job, it's hard to earn money to live. Somehow I managed.
With the money, I got an apartment on Gibbs Street. The old dirty yellow walls and the stained carpet all have been replaced. One day coming home from work through the back door, I saw a Korean woman working on what seems to be hot pepper. I used to remember how my mom grew those jalapenos, and she would put them into her salsa. It was one of her secret recipes. The next afternoon, I came back with a shovel and a pack of jalapeno seeds.
The community garden was packed with all kinds of people, and they came up to me to talk to me without slowing down their speed when talking or without using hand motions to help me understand. I’ve never felt this way before. No one was judging me just because of my race or looking suspiciously at me. Unlike other towns I’ve been in, they didn’t judge me or avoid me. As I started to ready my plot, an African American man came over to show me how to plant my jalapeno seeds. I thanked him; then I left. Finally, I felt like I belonged somewhere.
My mom gave me a piece of paper when I was 10. Our home phone number was written on it. I haven’t talked to my mom since the day before I left. Today she’s turning 50, and since I planted those jalapenos I felt like I’ve been drawn closer to her. As I pushed the last number, the phone clicked.

“Hello?” I hear a familiar voice say.






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