the long way home

On a cold night in May, in a desolate land punctuated by huge rugged mountains, our van crept along a gravel road, a road like any other in this rural area. The night was making this passage with us; purple hues were slowly tingeing the blackened sky. The landscape was awakening, and with it our cloak of darkness slipping, revealing us with every mile we covered. We dared not speak, our breath bated as if the silence could hide us. This sanguinary road lay on the Durango countryside, hundreds of miles north of our sinking capital. The distance would only increase as we made our way towards the border.

My uncle looked at us through the rear-view mirror: his siblings, his mother, and me. Our eyes locked briefly; his were still heavy with loss. He nodded at me, as if to ask, “Are you okay with what is about to happen?”

I’ve made this trip a dozen times before; this time though, this time was different. This time we were leaving — fleeing — never to return. This time I was an exile — in exile— barred from home in a time of war.

I looked at my uncle and nodded. There was no alternative. We’d either flee or we’d stay and die.

My arms locked around my aunts’.

My grandmother clutched her seat-belt.

My other uncles gripped the overhead car handles.

My uncle’s eyes darted back to the road and his foot kicked down on the accelerator, roaring the van out of its deep slumber.

We were soaring along a landscape tinged in blood orange hues.

Everything around us was waking up.

Everything around us was dying.

That morning I left in exile and began my long way home.