She was lost in Juarez. A stranger. She had come from El Salvador with her cousin, Hector, in a crowded bus. The trip had cost them most of the money they had. And now Hector was gone. He had went out to drink like he had on several occasions since their arrival in Juarez several days ago, but this time he didn’t return.
Amelia had run out of cash and was very hungry when she had offered herself to the men on the street. It disgusted her, but it wasn’t long. She had enough for food and a hit of heroin, and with some left over, she thought of eventually finding a coyote to take her across the border: their original plan.
They had relatives in Albuquerque, her and Hector. There they had the promise of food and a place to stay, and the hope of finding a job and making a living.
But she was on her own now. She still hoped Hector would return, but the hope was fading. In a few days she would try for the border regardless. Only a few more days of selling herself.
She barely remembers him. The man who spoke no Spanish. He just was sweaty-wet, with tired eyes. She shared some heroin with him, and then he had bought some of her time. They were both in a daze. When she came to he was already gone.
A few men later she got word of a group going into the wild to cross the border. What luck! The man took her to a house where people had gathered and she waited there all day as more and more people arrived. Sometime after nightfall a pickup arrived and everyone got in the bed, paying the driver their precious cash. She had met several others, in similar situations. Men, women, children… even babies. The truck drove for a very long time into the night. When it finally did stop everyone got out and trudged through along. Their eyes already used to the darkness they could see well enough. As a group they walked all night, until the first light of the morning. That day they hid in a large culvert until it was dark, trying to sleep. All she could think about was getting more heroin.
When night fell they started moving again. They hadn’t gone far when there was a commotion and the pack stopped. Soon everyone was running in random directions. So did Amelia, not even knowing why. She found out.
A strong hand grabbed her. Being pulled, fighting to get free. He struck her. And again. She quit fighting, resolving to do whatever the man wanted until she saw a chance to escape. She was pushed to the ground, near another woman. The men forced themselves on the women. Soon it was over, and they were alone.
The women walked alone in the darkness. After a bit they could see light up ahead and headed toward it. Finding eventually, it was a truck stop along a highway. The women went down to it. Hungry, cold, scared. Amelia offered herself to the men as they walked passed. Eventually one took interest and they went back to his truck.
The food was good and warmed them up. Now if she could just find some heroin. Her body began to ache so, and the high would be such a welcome relief. A couple truckers later and she had her fix. A few more, and she had found them a ride to Albuquerque.
It was a relief to find her family, but she was beginning to be very ill. The heroin helped, and she had to sell her body to be able to buy it. Soon she was in a constant daze…
She gained consciousness with lights all around her, with doctors and nurses in masks and hoods working around her. The last thing she recalled before losing consciousness for the last time was talk of outbreaks in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles spread by an unknown means….