night. crickets. wind. grass. roads. quiet. pizza.
school, noise, headphones, book, dessert.
table, chairs, creaky floors, dim light, hotspot.
stands up. table. grabs hand. leaves. closes the door. alone. pizza.
heartbeats. dry mouth. empty room. empty plates.
look around. tiptoe. peek. crack. sobbing. hands holding.
sit back. come out.
curtains drawn. couches arranged. pizza unfinished.
“hide here, don’t come out, i’ll get the landlords, they’ll know what to do.”
not calm, not calm.
rug. chair. ceiling fan. blue light. heavy steps.
“are they really here?”
a knock. jolt. fear. shadows. fly.
landlords. family. smile. eyes watery.
“you need to call them.”
phones— 3 of them. ring. ring. ring.
shoulders pressed. hands held. they sit in a circle. like a shield. shielding who? shielding from?
“bu-but they can’t legally do that, we have a visa. we have the note.”
“i know. it should be enough.”
peek through curtains. police cars. 4. plus that one.
oh God. God. God no.
hands crack. shoulders heave. breath short.
“this isn’t happening. we made sure you were legal.”
“w-what are the words again? i… i am using my…right to remain silent? i can’t remember, god, i can’t remember.”
throat tight. mind racing. people. so many people. small home. easy target.
“you’re not even packed, you’re not even meant to go, what, what the hell are they thinking?”
wait. wait. wait. wait. no no no no, this was not supposed to happen, no, you don’t understand, no–
finality. tears. pain. frantic text.
“if they’re taking you, we’re coming too.”
door. open. cop. them. them. evil eyes looking, searching, unwilling.
“but… but they’re not even packed, because they were never supposed to lea–“
“we’ll wait for her.”
the papers weren’t enough.
cop. dull. gun. gun. gun. gun. God, do they even need guns? God, why are they here? God, where are you?
backpack. crammed. memories. for good luck. lies. hands tight.
“don’t try to run, do you want to get in trouble?” rough. hands. yelp. dodge. backpack.
choke. salt. tears. “goodbye! i’ll see you later! i’ll see you later!”
tears. tears. panic attack. family. call for mother. mother does nothing, she doesn’t know how, she can’t move.
wailing. shrieks. grief.
“i love you too! i love—“
car. door. open. push. pungent.
“quiet the **** or i’ll quiet her”
NOT CALM. NOT CALM.
dark. dark. red. whirl. trees. road. tears.
the pizza wasn’t even finished yet.
silence. shock. window. open. large. unbuckle seatbelt. reach for–
car jerks to a stop.
hotel. empty. lights. parking lot. cold. chill. crickets. fire. people talking. night. luggage.
“no, you don’t need your backpack, just use your hoodie on the floor. it’s carpeted.”
automatic doors. smells. friendly receptionist. tears. smile. big smile. big big smile that doesn’t do anything but smile.
elevator. musty room. trapped.
walk. breathe. stiff walls.
room number 125.
not calm not calm not—