by J. Domingo
“You see over there?”
My mother asks her palm open against the stretch of ocean the Man says is called the Red Sea.
I notice only an expanse of nauseous green but I nod and keep my eyes fixed on the points of my mother’s fingers.
“Beyond there is water,” she continues, “water we can drink, water to save us.”
The boat lurches and I eat a spray of salt. Someone huddled at my feet stirs, coughs and turns over. A screech of gulls rips the air and the sea is calm again.
Once there were 12 of us – my father, grandparents, aunts, cousins, and sisters. Once we had a small farm. I grazed our goats while my parents tilled the soil and my sisters weaved. Then the rains stopped and our land baked, our animals died and so did we, one by one until we two were left saved by strangers passing through our village in a jeep with a big red cross on its side. They took us to a sprawling camp buzzing with flies and mosquitoes where my mother met the Man who said he’d take us across the Red Sea to Paradise.
She didn’t say at what price.
Crowded by sweat, skin and stench in a creaking boat sagging under our total weight, I wonder at this Promised Land.
But my mother, with bones much too prominent like mine, is convinced.
“Soon,” she says as if in prayer, “we can begin again”.