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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Breathe (08/19/10)

TITLE: Isabel's Letter
By Martha Granderson


The shack was cold and dark. A mouse scuttled across the floor, its claws clicking on the rough boards. Enrique shivered and sat up. The even breathing of the other four men sleeping in the room was not disturbed. Enrique reached for his shoes and crept softly out the door. A chilling wind was blowing up the hillside into his face. Grey clouds raced across the bright moon. It wasn’t quite full, he decided. He sat on the doorstep and pulled on his shoes. Leaning forward, he blew on his hands. His breath fogging white as the wind whipped it away from his mouth. As he took his hands away from his mouth his eye fell on the white scar that adorned his brown wrist. He remembered well how he had struggled to untangle himself from the barbed wire cow fence as the border guard laughed. He had been younger then, only sixteen, young and angry. He had screamed at the border guard in Spanish and tried to punch him as soon as he was free. It had taken two other guards to subdue him. Only when he was in handcuffs did he notice the blood flowing where the barbed wire had torn his skin.

He had come back in two months. The border guard had probably known he would. And here he was, four years later, tanned by the hot sun in the agriculture fields and mellowed by hard work. His hands were rough and calloused from holding the farming tools. His voice had a hard rasp to it after the accident of breathing the pesticide. For days it had not been clear if he would live as he fought to pull his breath past all the allergic reaction and swelling in his throat.

He reached into his shirt and slowly pulled out an envelope postmarked in Mexico. He held it in his hands, staring into the distance. But he saw none of the darkness and tossing trees, no it was bright and hot day in Aguascalientes. The day before he left to come across the wire again, Isabel’s slender form was framed against the window, looking out. “You’ll write me soon, Enrique?” She asked, not turning.

“As soon as I have the money, I’ll write to you.” He had answered. “And send the ring.”

Her soft laugh was musical in his ears. “Don’t forget that.”

He stepped close to her and touched her cheek lightly. “Of course not.”

Now he held her reply in his hand as the wind tumbled a flock of dry leaves past him and made his teeth chatter. He slipped his finger under the tab and loosened it. His letter had been so full of apologies. The housing was mouse infested, the weather was cold, jobs were sometimes few and far between, and the men he worked with were coarse in their ways. What if his description had scared her? He couldn’t bear to look at it. He took a deep breath and tilted the envelope, but only a picture fell into his hand. Isabel’s dark eyes smiled up at him. He turned it over and held it up to read the writing in the light of the moon. One word. “Yes.”

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This article has been read 246 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Mildred Sheldon08/26/10
Thank you for Isabel's Letter. I enjoyed this very much. Thank you for sharing and God bless.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/28/10
Oh this is a sweet story of love and endurance. Well maybe sweet isn't the right word for some of the descriptions, but it fits the ending.