I Am Not Walking Alone

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Reyna is a mother and a wife. She is also considered an "illegal immigrant." But she wants a better life for her children. However, while traveling to the United States from Mexico, she got separated from her children and husband. She will travel the desert again, but this time, she isn't alone.

Submitted: March 11, 2012

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Submitted: March 11, 2012

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 Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

 

 

The black air suffocated me. All around me were the sounds of shuffling feet belonging to my jail mates, and the sound of old men coughing and women whimpering. In my little cell, I was alone except for the whispers of the prisoners talking to their ears alone. I hated being alone, and in that jail cell I was on the verge of insanity.

“Hey, chica, what are you doing by yourself?” The bodiless voice echoed into my cell. I shuddered. I had been placed there about three hours before, around eight o’clock, and as I had walked down the damp and cool hallway, numerous beaten-down men, and old, battered women, called out to me in the dark. 

This man had been persisting all night, and I finally gave up to his rough calls.

“Same reason you’re here, no doubt, senor.” I pulled my kneecaps up to my chest. I hadn’t moved since they put me in that cell. I don’t know how big my little room was or what was inside it. There was no light in the hallways, and no windows to shed the night’s light in. So, I refused to move out of my corner.

The man chuckled. “I have been here a while because I assaulted one of their men in blue. But, yes, I am here for the same reason you are. How come you couldn’t pass the border?”

I sighed. I didn’t want to discuss it with that man. About how embarrassed I was as I was taken out of the truck, away from my two children, my husband, David, and my friends. The silent sobs of my little Francis were still too clear and precise. I felt deprecated as the men in blue patted me down. They gave me a number, and even though I was a mother, they threw me in with the rest of the dogs.

My husband had been in America for a few years before he came back to get the children and me. He already had a visa, and he was able to pay for two fake visas and information for the children. I went empty-handed. After we crossed the desert, our friends Joseph and Mary, picked us up at the Texas side. However, we still had another immigration stop to go, which we didn’t know about. 

But I knew this was the risk. When I become an illegal, I become a number, a mere object. I was stripped of everything I held dear. Like my children.

“I didn’t have a visa, of course.”

“How did you do it?”

“The desert.” My children and I couldn’t swim.

“Ah, the desert.” A deeper voice boomed in to the right of me.

Chills ran up my spine as I swung around to find the second bodiless voice. The blackness swallowed everything up inside that dungeon.

“I went through the desert with my parents as a child.” A third crackly voice rose up from the graves, and I couldn’t bear it any more. I shoved my head between my knees and tried to concentrate on my children’s faces. Francis had high cheekbones like me, and Maria had my round eyes and lips. They both had my dark-chocolate hair.

Laughter.

“The desert can make you go crazy- the voices and the cries. The spirits resent anyone who tries to cross that desolate land.”

Spirits?

“Wait. What are you talking about?” I lifted my head. My mother and father had always warned me about disturbing the spirits. And growing up Catholic, I knew the souls that were disturbed were resentful to the living.

“Did you not feel them?” The original, hungry voice came from directly in front of me. 

“Did you not see them?” The third, crackly voice came from my left side.

“Did you not hear them?” The second, vulgar voice was directly next to me.

“People disappear out in the desert when they try to cross the border.” The man I first started talking to let out a loud cough. “They are the immigrants that didn’t make it, and the citizens of Mexico who fought against America in the past. When we try to pass, they don’t like it.”

I didn’t like that. “You mean, the people just disappear? Why?”

“We don’t know. From the stories, people go into the desert and they get eternally lost- forever. The spirits are resentful! If they can’t have the ‘American Dream’ neither can we.”

The other members of the tiny jail started to whimper. Their cries rose up from the dark like the eerie wail of Llorona. I refused to allow the giant tears to escape from my eyes. Instead, I pulled out my one possession from my pocket.

I knew I had to return to Mexico the next day. They would send me back, and I would have an identity again. I would be home- But I would be empty. My children were already in Houston at that time, and I wanted to live my life with them.

So, I would be with David again at the bus stop, where we decided to meet in case something like this was to happen. He was probably already on his way back. We would cross again, and I was going to be reunited with my children.

But what about the spirits? I stared into the blackness that was in front of me- all around me. I don’t remember hearing or seeing any spirits. But now I recall the feeling of being watched. I thought it was just my anxiety, but the desert was as dark as this cell. No one could have seen us. No one could have seen us with normal senses.

I held my lone possession in my hand: my rosary. Handed down to me from my grandmother, I cherished it.

“Now I lay me down to sleep,” I tried and bring peace to myself. I said this prayer to my children every night. Tomorrow was another day. “I pray the lord my soul to keep.”

*

The burning sunlight of the late afternoon burned my face. I stood next to the paint-chipped stop sign that my husband, my children, and I had stood next to as we got off the charter bus yesterday. We had the hopes that we would be together. But at the moment, we were far apart.

“Reyna?” I turned to see my husband running over to me from the direction of the border.

“David! It was so horrible.” I felt secure in his tight embrace. “I had to stay in an awful cell all night.”

“I know. I am so sorry you had to do that by yourself.”

“How are my children, David?”

“Reyna, they are fine.” He ran his hands through his thick black hair. Ever since I met him years ago, I knew I was going to marry him. He had round brown eyes, and curvy, rosebud lips. I thought he was the most handsome man I knew. “They are staying with Joseph and Mary, who picked us up at the border. Right after they took you out, I got out of the car and walked back. I stayed at a little inn a few blocks from here. The kids were upset, but I told them I was coming back to get you.”

He kissed my forehead, and I took in the familiar feeling.

“Have you heard from them today?”

“Yes, they have arrived in Houston. Everything is fine. We need to focus on getting through the desert.” He grabbed my hand and led me to a tiny restaurant down the street. It had a small bar inside, but it was quite empty. There was only one man at the bar and a few waitresses. It didn’t seem innocent. But I was hungry, and I allowed David to order me a turkey sandwich and a Coke.

“I didn’t see a name for this restaurant. Did you?” David took a long sip of his Coke. It was scorching outside.

The lone man from the bar with a long black mustache and a wide, brown cowboy hat turned around on the stool. “It’s Los Espiritus, senor.”

I suddenly got a very bad stomachache.

“David, last night at the cell, men were talking about spirits that roam throughout the desert. They are the lost souls of the men, women, and children who died will trying to cross. The men say they-“

“Reyna, please.” David smiled at me, but rolled his eyes. “You don’t believe what some random, convicts told you do you?”

“They were in there mostly for the same reason I was.”

“There are no such thing as ghosts.”

“Not ghosts, spirits. They are resentful they didn’t make it, they make the people who do cross lost forever in the desert until- until they die.”

“Well, how come we made it last time?” David didn’t like talking about the unknown. He was starting to get annoyed.

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s because we walked the desert at dusk. But this time we will be walking it at the dead of night. What if-“

“Reyna!” He signed deeply and wiped his hands up and down his face. “What do you want us to do? Not go? Leave our children in a foreign place without us?”

“No!”

He grabbed my hands tight in his and looked deep into my eyes. “Then forget this. We will be fine tonight. We won’t get lost.” He smiled. “You’re stuck with me.”

I still didn’t like the idea of disturbing them.

“We are going to go meet up the next group crossing around eight. I told Joseph to come meet us on the Texas side to pick us up. Don’t worry. Mary stayed with the kids.”

*

It was dark again. Pitch black actually. There was just one light in the distance that belonged to the street lamp hanging over the bus stop.

I was wearing my rosary around my neck this time. I had been stammering prayers all night. It was ten o’clock and no one had shown up yet.

“David, where is everyone?”

“I don’t know, Reyna.”

The wind was beginning to pick up.

“Hello?” I jumped around to find three people standing behind us. There was a man with light brown hair and a full goatee holding the hand of a woman with fake, blonde hair and light hazel eyes. She looked scared out of her mind. She kept looking left and right and was shaking.

“Are you guys looking for the group? We have been waiting for like three hours and no one has shown up.”

“Isaac, tell them what we heard.” The girl looked at me, her eyes wide with fear. Without waiting for him to tell us she continued. “We were hearing cries. Cries for help.”

I suddenly got very cold.

“Oh, Theresa, you don’t know what you heard. We were waiting around when this man came. He knew where he was going and waved for us to follow him.”

“We still don’t know who he is, Isaac,” Theresa whispered. But I could hear her.

The man next to them looked very young. He was clean-shaven and very muscular. He looked sickly though and very pale. He had huge bags under his eyes and looked sad.

“Well, wonderful, we will just follow you guys, if that’s ok?” David looked at the mystery man when he said this, but the man didn’t say anything and continued towards the direction of the border.

“Oh, he doesn’t talk,” Isaac walked next to David like they were the best of friends. “This is certainly an adventure, don’t you think, brother?”

“Hardly.” David gave the man a weak laugh.

“My name is Theresa.” Theresa stood next to me with her arm linked to mine. “I didn’t mean to scare you back there, maybe I didn’t know what I was hearing.”

“What exactly did you hear?”

“When we were waiting, I could hear someone crying somewhere in the desert. It was a horrible cry. A cry of despair and hopelessness. It made me feel lost. Then the man showed up.”

The men continued to talk and so did Theresa and me. We walked for a long time. I would look up now and again to make sure we were still following the man. Everything was going smoothly, and I was starting to grow excited to see my children.

“Isaac, that is not funny! Don’t touch me!” Isaac had returned to the right side of Theresa, and David was to the left of me. “It’s scary out here. Don’t try and spook me!”

“What are you talking about?” Isaac steadied himself after Theresa’s hard punch to his shoulder. “I didn’t touch you.”

I turned forward again and stopped dead cold. “Wait, guys, where is the man?”

Nothing was in front of me but the dead, dark air.

“David, where is he?”

Senor!” David yelled into the night.

Nothing.

“Where are you, amigo?” Isaac walked forward a few feet and was engulfed in darkness. David followed. Theresa locked arms with me again, and this time I didn’t object. We waited.

Then, I heard it. The screams. There was one long, high-pitched, spine-tingling scream. Then another scream, this time the sound of a child’s weeping, cry.

“What the hell was that?” Theresa’s nail was imbedded into my skin.

The men came running back. “What’s wrong?” David came and grabbed my shoulders.

“David, it’s them. They’re here.”

“What are you talking about? Why did you scream?”

I couldn’t form words. We were going to be lost. I would never see my children again. A burning sensation in my stomach made me fall to my knees.

“That wasn’t us!” Theresa fell next to me, trying to wipe my hair away from my face. “We have to go back!”

“We can’t go back, not now that we have gone so far.” Isaac pulled Theresa back on her feet, and David helped me up. “We have to keep going.”

I couldn’t resist. We kept walking: David and me in front of Theresa and Isaac. I felt like the spirits in the desert, walking solemnly and dreadfully through the darkness. The moon was covered by grey, slowly moving clouds. There was no light.

“What was that?” Theresa had resumed her terrified state after the screams. She knew what she had heard now, and she was lost in her fears.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Theresa, but stop. You’re only freaking yourself out more.” Isaac was a nice man, but completely oblivious to his surroundings.

David on the other hand knew we were in danger. Maybe not because of the spirits, but because of our lack of a guide.

“Where did that man go?”

“David, he was a spirit. He led us astray.”

“Ok, I am getting so tired of this. There are no spirits out here. Just cacti and sand. If you want me to prove it to you, I will.” Isaac walked in front of us and disappeared.

Theresa ran after him. “Isaac, come back! Stop! We shouldn’t separate from each other.” She disappeared from sight.

David looked at me.

“No, no, no, don’t even think of it! You’re not going after them. Don’t leave me alone!”

“Reyna, don’t move. I have to go find them and bring them back. I admit there is something weird going on, and we can’t lose each other.” David let go on my hand, and I was alone.

The wind had picked up tremendously, and the sand was blowing everywhere. It stung my skin as it brushed me like sand paper. I sat down.

My face was hot. I kept swallowing because my pulse beat furiously in my throat. I held my rosary in my hands.

“Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with thee-“ I stopped. In the direction David went, I could hear a tiny whimper. About ten feet away from me I saw a little girl appear. She wore the traditional garb of a tribe in the surrounding area of Mexico City, and her face hung down against her chest. Her long curls rested on her skinny shoulders. Her cries grew heavier and louder. As she walked closer to me, I could tell that she had blood all down her dress. I didn’t know how I was seeing her. It was so dark.

Mija, what happened to you?” I couldn’t help care for this lost little girl.

She looked up at me with what used to be her face. Where her eyes used to be were two giant, empty holes. Her mouth opened wide to show her empty rows of teeth. She let out a shrill and piercing scream. And she ran away.

 David and Isaac returned as I was throwing up into a brush nearby.

“What happened, Reyna!” David fell beside me and held me as I cried into his arms.

“We are done, David. They have us. We are never getting out of here.”

“Where is Theresa?” Isaac frantically searched around us, “Theresa, where are you!”

“You didn’t find her?”

“No, mami, we didn’t. We will find her, though. Don’t worry.”

We wouldn’t find her, and I knew that. Poor Theresa.

“We should keep moving.”

“I am not leaving anywhere until I find Theresa! What if she comes back here?” Isaac marched over to David. David stood his ground.

“I hate that she is missing, but I have a family to think about, Isaac. I have to keep going!”

Isaac backed down. His face looked sad. “I know. I’ll follow you. She went in that direction. She probably just stopped somewhere and is waiting for us.”

We walked on. The little girl’s face haunted my vision. I could see her desperate face painted in the dark canvas in front of me. I still felt so sick.

I didn’t know how many hours it had passed since we started, and I didn’t know what time it was when we heard the guns, the horses, and the men.

Isaac heard it first.

“What is that noise?”

We stopped. Soon the sound of hooves grew louder in the night. It sounded like they passed right in front of us and continued on. Then, we heard the guns.

“Quick, get on the ground!” David threw me under him, and Isaac dropped to the floor next to us. All around me, I could hear the sounds of men falling to the ground, dying. The agonizing laments of the men echoed around us. The air suddenly felt cold against my skin, even though we were in the dead of summer. The wails grew distant. The shouts of the men disappeared. And the moans of the dying faded away.

“What was that?” David’s face was pale. Isaac had dirt all around his eyes and mouth. I knew I looked a mess too. But we didn’t care anymore.

“Maybe they had Theresa,” Isaac got up quickly. “I need to go after them.”

“Brother, I don’t think those men had faces.” David grabbed Isaac’s arm as he was walking away. “Don’t go. We can keep moving.”

“Look, David, you have a family to walk forward to. Theresa is my family.” His face looked wretched. “She needs me. And I was the one who made her run away.”

He was lost.

“Ok.” David couldn’t do anything and neither could I. “Be careful, my friend.”

Isaac disappeared into the night.

*

It must have been early in the morning. David and I were on the alert. I knew we would never see Theresa or Isaac ever again. The spirits had them now. They would show themselves to them until they went crazy.

But I had to get to my children. I had to see their faces again.

“Reyna, what is going on?” David looked at me, scared and confused. He wanted to know the stories.

“They are resentful. They want us because they weren’t able to live the life we want. No one can have it.”

“Well, what do we do? Your parents taught you to respect the spirits, and I was raised to believe they didn’t exist. How do we get through to our children?”

“I don’t know.” I didn’t know.

The spirits were upset. They wanted to rest, but they were lost. They all died, lost in this horrible place, looking for a way out. Atrocious things happened in this desolate landscape. Mothers lost sons in wars, children were slaughtered, and women and little girls were raped. They were not, and never would be, at rest.

“Maybe a prayer? I know it may not seem like a lot, but it brings peace to me, and maybe it will protect us.”

We held our hands together and bowed our heads. I whispered, “Father, son, holy spirit.” The winds began to howl. “O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, deliver the souls of all the faithful departed from the pains of hell and from the bottomless pit; deliver them from the lion's mouth, that hell not swallow them up, that they fall not into darkness, but let the holy standard bearer Michael bring them into that holy light which You promised to Abraham and his seed.”

“Amen.”

Suddenly, the wind stopped. I felt calm. I opened my eyes to see David looking at me, smiling. The warmness of my lord overcame me, and I knew I was ok.

But then I heard my name. It was faint, hardly audible. But it was there. Icy and woeful. The wind brushed my arms and legs, and whispered into my ears.

David’s face grew dark. His smile disappeared. He looked confused and discomforted. He was lost.

“I thought that would work. What is going on?”

My name grew louder to the point that the person saying it was screaming my name. I could hear little children’s laughter from somewhere in the distant. I looked and saw two children, one girl and one boy, holding hands and walking away from us. I let go of David’s hands and stared after them.

“Francis, Maria? Babies is that you?” They started saying the child’s nighttime prayer.

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

Then, I felt the tap on my right shoulder.

I started running towards my children. But then they started to run away too.

“Reyna, stop!” I could hear David right behind me. But I was running fast. I wanted to hold my babies in my arms and warn them to not fall asleep, not out here.

“Reyna!”

The wind started to pick up, and the dust brushed against my skin. But it didn’t stop me. The children disappeared from my view, and David’s voice grew distant.

David.

I stopped and turned around. I couldn’t see him, but I could still hear him. “David! Stay where you are! I am coming back.” I jogged forward a little bit, but I couldn’t see anything.

“Reyna!” His voice was barely audible.

“David, no!” I started to panic. Tears started to pour down my face.

Then I could hear him no more.

“Reyna?”

I turned around to see Jose and his white Ford Ranger behind me. Jose had his arm hanging out the window with a confused look on his face.

“What are you doing by yourself? Where is David?”

I turned back toward the desert. The desert was still, and the moon was shining down on the smooth sand. Nothing was there but a few cacti and shrubs. No children, no horses, no men or women. No David.

He was gone.

I fell to the ground and cried. I let my body succumb to my aching heart. I felt Jose pick me up in his broad, strong arms and set me inside his hot truck. It smelled of tamales and cigar smoke.

We drove on. As the sun started to rise in the east, I fell into a horrible sleep.

*

Acceptance was an odd thing. The pains of my life still burned in my heart when I thought of them, but acceptance of these pains made them bearable. They were not gone completely, and they didn’t hurt any less. But I was able to move on.

I woke up to the sound of Francis banging on the car door.

“Mama! Mama! Wake up! You’re here!”

I opened my eyes to my little boy tugging on my arms with a giant smile on his face. He was ten years old, and he was beginning to get tall and very skinny. Maria was right behind him with her eyes filled with tears of joy. She was only five years old, and she was still chubby from her baby fat. Her curly hair was bouncing in the wind. Mary was standing by the front door smiling and waving.

I could see a small suburban house in the background. It had red brick and a brown roof. Just like I had imagined. The green grass in front of the house looked soft and warm. It was hot outside, and it was hard to breathe because of the high humidity. But I couldn’t contain my joy of seeing my beautiful children.

“My babies! Oh thank you God, my babies!” I got out the car and dropped to their height. I held them close to my chest. I wanted to place them in my heart and never give them up again. I kissed them all over their pasty faces and they giggled and smiled some more.

“Where is Papa?” They looked around the truck, searching for someone who was gone forever. I remembered and my chest hurt again.

“Well, Papa isn’t going to be with us here anymore, guys. He decided to stay behind in case we wanted to go back.” I put on the most confident and happy face I could muster. For Maria it was enough, and she climbed back into my lap, but for Francis it wasn’t that easy. He looked at me with his papa’s eyes.

“Will we see him again, Mama?”

“Of course, we will, mijo. Someday.” 


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