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Crossing

By , Valley Cottage, NY

I dove behind a rock as the lights scanned the horizon. This was the first time I had ever made it across the border successfully without being seen. My heart was racing. It was already dark and I needed a place to stay for the night. I was just outside the town El Paso, Texas. As I was walking in the small town, I came across a beautiful house with a small shed. With my hands shaking, I checked to see if the shed was locked. As the door opened, I immediately scanned the room and walked inside making sure I shut the door behind me. Suddenly, I heard footsteps that only got louder and louder as time progressed. The door opened and there was a flashlight pointed straight at my face. I could not see a thing.
“What are you doing here?” a female voice asked in a cautious tone.
I was at a loss for words. “I.. I needed a place to stay,” I said in a nervous voice
“I'm sorry, I’ll leave.”
The girl stopped me as I walked towards the door. “What’s your name?” she said.
“Juan.”
“Hi Juan. My name is Jessica. Why do you need a place to stay? Did your parents kick you out or something?” She laughed.
Trying to process what she said with the little English I knew, I told her the truth. “Well… I wanted to get away from my father. He’s a warlord in the Mexican Cartel… and he abuses me. So, I snuck across the Mexican border in a hope to start over.
“Oh, ” she paused, “you can stay in my house. But you just need to be careful that my parents don’t see you…”
She snuck me into her house, through the hallway, and past the living room where her parents were sitting. They were watching some weird show with this yellow talking sponge with big eyes. This is what Americans watch… I thought to myself. I didn’t think much of it. We were in Jessica’s room; it was so big compared to the tiny room I had back home in Mexico that I had to share with my brother.
A few days of her sneaking water and granola bars into her room for me passed by; and I started to learn a lot about her. She spoke little Spanish, but still enough for me to somewhat understand. She played lacrosse and liked to read a lot, also, she was very interested in listening to music and painting. Jessica was an only child; on the other hand, my many siblings would never leave me alone. Jessica and I got to know each other very well over the time that we spent with each other. The two of us had really grown to care about one another. I got this weird feeling whenever I looked at her. A few days ago she had told me that she loves me. I said it back. We shared our likes and dislikes, and got to know each other as best as we could. She showed me the type of music that she listened to, which was quite horrible and I couldn't understand a word it said; and I showed her some music I listened to which she didn't seem to really like either.
One day, at about 3pm, I was laying on Jessica’s bed trying to read this book she said was her favorite. She was in the other room doing her laundry. Then her door opened.
“Hey Jess, I-” I looked up at where I thought Jessica would be. There were her parents, standing right in her doorway looking at me.
“Who are you!” Her mother said to me in as startled voice. “Jessica! Who is this boy in your room and what is he doing here?” She said in a more angry tone.
Jessica came running towards her room and told them that I was just a friend. At this point, their conversation was moving way too fast for me to comprehend. Her father pointed to the the door and kept raising his voice. I could tell I was unwanted here. Then Jessica took them into the other room and it got a little quieter. About five minutes later she came back and apologized.
“I’m so sorry about that,”  she said, “they are just a little hard to win over but they said you can stay for a little.” Her face lit up with joy. “They want you to eat dinner with us.”
“Okay.” I said. I got up and followed Jessica to the dining room table where there were more pieces of bright and shiny china than I had hairs on my head.
Wow… I thought to myself. Americans really go all out.
We took our seats. Jessica’s parents were trying to make conversation with me. I looked at them confused, not knowing exactly what to say or even what they were asking.”
Throughout the whole dinner I sat in my chair not saying a word. Jessica and her parents seemed to just be making awkward small talk. I felt so out of place; like it would be better if I had just left. None of this food looked or smelled like the rice and beans I was used to every night at home. I was hesitant to take a bite from the large plate of different foods that Jessica’s mom had made up for me.
“Juan, you haven’t touched your food, is something wrong?” Jessica said to me.
“No.” I said as I took my first bite out of the tall sandwich with what seemed to be beef with lettuce and tomato.
Yuck. I thought to myself. Everything was so bland. This food was nothing like Mexican food which was filled with flavor. I couldn’t even finish it. I told Jessica I wasn’t that hungry. I awkwardly sat there in silence as they continued to eat their food. A few minutes later there was a loud knock on the door.
“It’s the police, open up!” a man said in a loud voice.
I was terrified. They were here for me and I knew that at this point there was nothing I could do to prevent myself from getting caught.
“Juan, go into my room and go into my closet. Make sure you cover yourself with some blankets.” Jessica said in an urgent voice.
I started running towards Jessica’s room as I heard the door burst open. They were talking to Jessica’s parent asking if they saw a Mexican boy anywhere. At this point I was freaking out, my heart was racing and I was trying so hard to stop myself from crying. I peered through the crack in Jessica’s door to see two big men with guns. I immediately hurried to her closet, closing the door and covering myself with anything I could find; trying to make as little noise as possible.
A few minutes passed by. Everything was quiet. Maybe they went away. I thought. I tried to think as positively as I could, given the circumstances. Then, I heard someone walk into Jessica’s room, rustling through and moving around everything in it. It must be the policemen! I hoped that they would somehow get distracted and forget to search the closet.
“Check in there,” one of the policemen said.
He opened the closet door. There was a pause; suddenly the blanket was pulled off of me.
“I found him!” The man said to the other.
He grabbed my arm, jerked me up and started pulling me towards the front door. I knew this was it. I knew this would be the last time I would ever be able to see my love, Jessica. My eyes were filled with tears as I looked at Jessica and her parents were trying to hold her back.
“You can’t take him!” she screamed in a horrified voice, trying to get loose from her mother’s grasp on her arm. She broke into tears.
I begged the policemen to let me go. I knew I would never see her again. They didn’t say a word. They drove me back to Mexico and stopped at this office where they looked up my address and all my other information. They started heading to my house where I knew my father would be. I would never hear the end of it.
  “You should know better than trying to sneak across the border, kid.” The man said.
I was completely silent. All I could think about was Jessica and her beautiful smile that I would never see again and I felt so horrible for getting her involved. I knew that at this point I would never be able to get my green card to go back to America and be with Jessica. That night I couldn’t sleep at all. I began writing a letter to Jessica.


Dear Jessica,
I am so sorry for everything that happened. I shouldn’t have gotten you involved. I should have thought this through and realized that what I was doing was insane. I am going to try to do everything I can to get into America the legal way to be with you. I’ll go to college and get a degree, and maybe then America will see the good I can do in their country. I love you, please wait for me. I will do everything I can to see you again.
         Love,
         Juan.




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