The Dreamer

Writing Exercise

Mary once dreamed of becoming an interior designer. She dreamed of marrying her first love, who had also become her first heartache. She dreamed of raising children in the home she grew up in. Instead, Mary sat by her bed with an open suitcase in front of her. It was empty. She shifted, looking around the room with an appraising eye, but not seeing much of anything at all.

She only had fifteen more minutes to pack her things, but she was at a loss as to what she should bring. Clothes, probably. Maybe the stuffed toy her best friend gave her in the second grade. The letters from her ex-boyfriend that she kept in the drawer of her nightstand.

She couldn’t take the doorframe with all the notches cut out, showing how much she’d grown since her family moved to the house. A few of the precious trinkets scattered around the room could go with her, but not many. Mary would never be able to fit the octopus bookends that one of her teachers gave her for her birthday. Nor could she take the three shelves of books that she’d collected over a lifetime.

What would happen to them, when she was gone?

Five minutes left. The suitcase was still empty. She wrung her hands.

Mary couldn’t pack her entire life into one small suitcase, no matter how much she wanted to take everything with her. There were so many things she had to leave behind. So many memories she’d made. So many dreams that would come to nothing.

The immigration agent poked his head in through the door. “Mary? We have to get going soon. Are you ready?”

He was a nice enough man. She didn’t hate him for doing this. Even though it hurt.

Mary stood and went to her dresser. She pulled out wads of clothes and shoved them unceremoniously into her suitcase. Everything else would have to be left behind. It was too difficult to look at them and remember the life that she was losing.

The agent sighed and walked into the room. He helped her fold the clothes, working silently at her side without complaint.

“Everything’s going to be fine. Think of it like you’re going home.”

An errant tear heedlessly slipped down her cheek and she wiped it away roughly. “This is the only home I’ve ever known. I don’t even speak Spanish.” She wiped at another rogue tear. “I don’t know anything about Honduras. How am I supposed to survive?” A chill of fear ran down her spine.

The agent looked down at his own hands. They were shaking. “A place will be found for you, once you get there,” he said. “You won’t be left on your own.”

“But I am on my own.” She shut the suitcase and rubbed harshly at her face. Her eyes were puffy; her nose and cheeks were bright red.

“I’m just doing my job.”

Mary picked up her suitcase. “When you decide to follow evil laws, it doesn’t free you of guilt just because you weren’t the one who came up with the law in the first place. May God judge between you and me.” She walked out of the room without looking back.

The agent clenched his shaking fist, steeling himself against her accusations. “It’s just my job,” he said again to the empty room. He’d once dreamed of joining the CIA. Traveling the world. Going anywhere and doing anything he wanted. Anything but this.

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