My roommate, having grown up in Alabama, has a charming southern accent. She says I remind her of Kristin, her best friend in high school at Decatur. Perhaps that’s why she confides in me, though I never ask her to. Tonight, home from her evening job, she confesses she ran a red light on her way to anatomy class this morning. Wheels too near the intersection to stop, she watched the light turn yellow, saw it flash red just as she passed below it, wondered if the intersection had a camera, doubled back, saw that it did.
Now she looks over her shoulder, waits for something bad to happen. People she knows have been pulled from their lives for just this small an infraction. People like her, with two jobs, two diplomas. People you’d never know came here from the hell of a harsh country, traveled in their mama’s exhausted arms, arrived as to a sort of Eden, knew carnivals and summer fairs, marched in Fourth of July parades, went caroling in Decembers, always meant to study Spanish, but were too busy keeping up grades for med school, people who knew the sacredness of a life.
Through the day she looks over her shoulder for the man who looks official, the jacket with three letters. Someone who could steal her from her home. Even as she drifts to sleep, she is afraid. In dreams she sees herself sent back to a place she can’t remember, a place that was never home. In dreams she walks beside the ocean and wonders if the waves that break next to her wash back to touch the edges of the country in which she was born, the place that isn’t home. She sees her feet against the sand. In her dream, they grow pale roots, anchor her deep, immovable. Safe.