Half a Day in America, Now
I wake up. My mouth hurts from a loose molar. I move my jaw around & bite down, setting everything back into place. I get ready for work, trying not to look at my phone for the world to tell me it isn’t well, as though I didn’t already know.
I ride the rail. There’s someone asleep in their seat. I’m not sure if the right thing to do is to wake them up so they don’t miss their stop or to not release them from their dream. I leave them & focus on the gliding of the car. It’s as though we’re flying through the air. I’m trying not to think of my tooth.
I walk into my class of brown-like-me 3rd graders where I teach them to write creatively. Today’s lesson on setting: draw a square & put whatever you want in it.
One child put: “There’s a stack of cash & a talking turtle who tells me secrets.”
Another child: “This is a room where I shoot the president.”
The first child again: “Yeah, you can’t access my room until you bring me the head of the president actually.”
At first, I’m shocked. Not because I disagree, but because I’m not as angry as they are. How honest it is to wish pain upon your enemy who doesn’t care for your life.
I leave class, carrying a bag of their desires, and call for a ride to get to my next job just in time. I always ask my driver two questions to pass the time:
1. How’s it going?
2. What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you?
“Man, I gotta lotta stories. But listen. I hadda dream before the election…”
I don’t want to listen, but I don’t want to think about the pain in my mouth either.
“Escúchame: along Richmond Avenue were lotta people protesting with signs & fire & signs on fire. They look like immigrants, like me, and they maaaaad. Very mad. Then a plane flies overhead and iss loud man. LOUD. And in the distance, on the horizon man, listen, the plane crashes. And there’s smoke and fire and the sky is red and thass it.”
“Iss crazy right? Something’s gonna happen soon, man. Am I crazy?”
We pass an intersection & there’s people with signs that say #FILLINGTHESWAMP & #NOTMYPRESIDENT. The driver points as though he’s been proven innocent.
Yes. It all hurts.
Reyes Ramirez is a Houstonian. In addition to having an MFA in Fiction, Reyes won the 2017 Blue Mesa Review Nonfiction Contest, the 2014 riverSedge Poetry Prize, and has poems, stories, essays, and reviews (and/or forthcoming) in: Houston Noir, Southwestern American Literature, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Gulf Coast Journal, Origins Journal, The Acentos Review, Cimarron Review, Front Porch Journal, the anthology pariahs: writing from outside the margins from SFASU Press, and elsewhere. You can read more of his work at: reyesvramirez.com.
Cover Photo by Henrique Pinto