America – A Short Story

Looking out my back door, I tried to keep my breathing steady. It had been twenty-four hours since Mamá said goodbye. She had walked me to the school door instead of just dropping me off. She had given me an extra long hug and whispered, “Hay una sorpresa para ti, in your lunchbox,” before letting me go and walking quickly down the steps so she wouldn’t be late for work.

I had entered the school and didn’t give her another thought. Until she didn’t come home for dinner. And she wasn’t in the kitchen making arroz con chorizo on Saturday morning. And now it was Saturday evening.

I walked into the living room and picked up my cell phone. I tapped the “news” icon and watched the app launch. I saw it then, a picture of the factory where she worked. Mamá was coming out of the front door, flanked by two men in dark clothing, carrying guns, and wearing bullet proof vests that had the three scariest letters in the entire English language.


Mamá was still wearing the gloves she used for cleaning, her hair was mussed, the curly tendrils like a crown of ivy on her head. The headline said, “The first day of school turned into a nightmare after record immigration raids.” I sat on the couch, my heart rate increasing.

“No te preocupes,” Mamá would say when I whispered my fears to her. “Tengo fe in this nation.”

Mamá might have faith in this country, but I no longer did.

The photo above was taken by Patrick for his Pic and a Word Challenge #216 – America. I’ve also incorporated other prompts from this last week: Go Dog Go Cafe’s Tuesday Writing Prompt to use the word “ice” and the number “twenty four”; and the Ragtag Daily prompt for Saturday – Nation (Thank you, Punam!), Thursday – Looking out my back door and Wednesday – Goodbye.

This story is based on a true story of an immigration raid in Mississippi that occurred on the first day of school in 2019 – so it isn’t really “fiction”, hence the title. The children, of the immigrants who were taken, were not picked up from school and had no way of knowing what happened to their parents. I can only imagine the terror of those children – losing a parent is a big fear for any child. This incident also reminded me of the way the Jewish people were rounded up by the Nazis. Is this what America has become?

©️ 2020 iido

15 thoughts on “America – A Short Story

  1. poignant point Irma … how shocking for those children! You wrote to all those prompts so well with such a moving story … has our world come to this.
    I wish the sign in your pic was true, I pray it come true very soon, today even …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kate and Irma,

      Kate, the photograph is mine, taken on the second morning of a roadtrip from Vancouver, Canada to Phoenix, AZ last December.

      For the most part, I’ve been staying away from the USA since the current administration took office. In 2018, I flew to Phoenix to spend Christmas with my mother. This year, in 2019, I drove to her place, partly because I just prefer driving over flying when possible, but also to get the lay of the land again in America.

      The people are, as I’ve always known them to be, in the majority kind and generous. I didn’t have any negative experiences. But I’m white, and male, my Canadian accent certainly detectable as non-local but not necessarily ‘foreign’. I don’t expect much trouble when travelling in the USA, especially in the mostly rural parts of the country I prefer driving through.

      I know, however, all is not well in America. It’s apparent across all news media, and most obvious in the polarity mine-field of social media.

      So when I pulled in to the Hawthorne Youth Hostel in Portland, Oregon on the first night of the roadtrip, I was delighted to be welcomed by this sign. It reminded me that the majority of Americans, I believe, agree with most or all these ideals. Perhaps not a comfortable majority, but enough to put the country back on track. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

      Despite the political polarity, there are enough people “In Our America” to make America *good* again.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. slogans are just that, words that have an audience not participants, who leads marches for these marginalised section of society, who raises coloured flags for the deprived children? know what? it does not matter if there are no special media attention for the less privileged, the work is being done quietly behind the glare, by real people living real lives not asking for more just what they deserve. your story has moved my heart deeply in a different way, I get frustrated reading about people marching for frivolous causes and then we have real work to do, your story is a call to action from our own safe homes, just a few steps away we can encounter people who need real help. from your little corner of the world I am so proud your words reach out to make a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Gina and you are so right!! The real work doesn’t need media attention just people willing to do it. I hope more people hear the call to action and become involved in making a difference.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well and poignantly written, Irma. Thank you for this.

    It’s both fascinating and tragically disturbing to me that the ideals placed on this flag have to be considered subversive regarding the current state of government in the USA.

    And yet… so they are. Your story deftly describes just how low this administration has undermined the heart of America.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Tourists ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #217 – Pix to Words

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