Vail Daily column: Isabella hides out
The light from the flashlight’s beam glinted off the glossy black of her eyes, subtle enough not to betray her. This was not the first search that she had endured, yet her curiosity and literal childishness caused her to dare the tiniest peek. Isabella’s little heart beat at the pace of a hummingbird’s. It seemed as if the pounding was loud enough to announce her presence. Yet, she remained silent as she watched the light recede. She had been well-trained. Had to be well-trained. To survive.
Her kin were pressed in around her, and were also in the rafters. Family was a loose term biologically here, but no less an apt description. She loved them all but knew from experience that they would be gone soon, in one direction or another, voluntarily or against their will. Her body was young, but her soul already ancient. Hardened. Despite being occasional quarry here, it was a marked improvement over the place from which she had come. America was to be her savior, and maybe it still would.
Only option is escape
She ducked back into place, but her ears still rang with each of their footsteps. Then, an even worse sound: a pause. It was one room over. Two beats later, the splintering of wood. Then, so much shouting. Isabella stayed statuesque, restraining the urge, the sense, to flee. She surmised, again based on historical knowledge, that the house was likely to be surrounded. Her hiding place was pretty good, had survived the cursory inspection. She had to believe. Faith had gotten her this far, she was not to give up now.
Isabella had been convinced, by the parents that were no longer at her side, that once they made it across the border, the rays of enlightenment would engulf them. Stories of America’s mix of bucolic splendor and cities of opportunity trickled back to her old village. Wars political and pharmacological had besieged the town. Once her brother had the audacity, the bravery to try to stop the madness, he was gunned down and the rest of his family similarly marked for death. Escape was the only option.
The promise of the new land was better than its reality. She was free but a captive. To the capriciousness of the system and the shifting moods of the neighbors that indulged her presence. She yearned for the true liberty that her new mates so thoroughly took for granted. But, in the face of it all, she did not complain. She was just … frustrated, disappointed, not a little ashamed.
Living in alternate reality
As much as she wanted it to be her world, and risked everything to make it her world, she knew that she was not of it. She sensed the hate, absorbed the glares, tried desperately not to let them weigh her down. Worse was not even being noticed at all. People went out of their way to avoid her gaze, as if not seeing her made her not real.
Isabella was a resident in the sense that she physically existed here. But she had no claim to permanence. Isabella was impressive, spoke English better than most of her native friends, was unfailing polite, had all of the hallmarks upon which her new home was founded. Those that tended to her, taught her, guided her knew that she needed only the slimmest of chances to become someone great. Their confidence augmented the scant bits that she had retained through the tumult and degradation of recent events. She saw herself in a doctor’s coat, in a classroom, in a boardroom and tricked herself into believing that could be her destiny. Yet, for now, she walked through her new life cognizant that hers was an alternate reality.
You cannot ignore her
She knew her history well enough to know that many, many had been demonized before her; the same tribes that now conspired against her. The men who now dragged women and children out of the neighboring room were, without exception, refugees themselves or the descendants thereof. How quickly one can assimilate and forget what it is like to be Isabella.
Isabella is everywhere. You know her. You may hate her or love her, pity her or fear her. But you cannot ignore her. You may try to help her or deport her, but you need to try to first understand her. In so doing, you will come to realize that she is you and you are her and I am you. This is not a country merely of plains and steel; it is an amalgamation of humanity. We all have our place.
T.J. Voboril is a partner at Reynolds, Kalamaya & Voboril LLC, a local law firm, and the owner/mediator at Voice Of Reason Dispute Resolution. For more information, contact Voboril at 970-306-6456, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.rkvlaw.com.