By Richard Gatica
"... I spread the crumbs at the base of my door. The airflow passes over the pancake portion of the crumbs, reducing its moisture content. I scoop up all the crumbs, place them in an old tortilla bag and hide the bag in the folds of my prison-issued jacket – smuggling it to the yard the way many have done with shanks...."
"...We were then accused of making my Gramma “sleep on the floor,” and told that we were no longer allowed to take her to my Mom’s for overnight stays. Most heartbreaking was that my Gramma, who used to phone my Mom and I at least once a day, was not returning our calls. I missed hearing, “¡Ay te wacho!”
By Celia Viramontes
"...As they labored for days and weeks, Don Luis and the men awaited their check. But it never came. He and his buddies hankered to leave. They fished into their pockets for bus fare, but nothing turned up. ..."
By Sylvia Castañeda
"...Gradually, his absences increased from days to weeks to months, prompting the school director to fire him. Francisco was sighted in the cantinas or sleeping on the benches of the main square. Often, he would skip town. Antonia had to find work to support her family. Soon, she was sewing aprons at home for the town merchant. This money she earned kept a roof over their head and frijoles on the stove....
By Fabiola Manriquez
"... Toward the end, I hated being near my mother and felt ill any time she expressed affection. She hated homosexuals. We argued. Gays deserved the AIDS virus, she said; they were sinning as God was working it out for them to repent. After those arguments, I visited the E.R. for a sedative. ..."
By Celia Viramontes
"...When he’d settled in, he opened the gifts. Swatches of cloth, clothes and a brown rectangular object spilled out. His daughter traced with her finger the letters engraved on the radio: P-H-I-L-C-O. That night, the voices of Pedro Infante and Lola Beltrán flowed from the speakers, singing of love and loss. ..."
By Tené Harris
"... Mabe had arrived in east Texas from Georgia, a freed man, in about 1859. He was a skilled carpenter, shoemaker, blacksmith and farmer. Over the years this man somehow amassed close to one thousand acres, 600 of which remain in our family. No one knew much about his parents. Some speculate that his father was a slave owner and that had something to do with his ability to purchase and retain so much land in east Texas. ..."
By Susana (Whitmore) Franek
"... It was the spring of 1976, less than a year after Francisco Franco died, and Spain was able to breathe again. Fascist repression was lifting. The long-stifled language of Catalan once again echoed through the streets, in schools, in the media and in government. The environment was ripe for a belly dancer from California to start teaching and performing. ..."
By David Fallon
"... Buddy and Dean were more than just allies. They shared their stories with each other, which is something you did not do on the streets, where information can be used against you. They talked about the things they wanted. For Buddy, it was a house and a car and a decent job. For Dean, it was women and motorcycles. ..."
By Jian Huang
"...The motel seems gigantic, with 28 rooms and two floors. The ocean blue paint underneath the stairwell is chipping. I rarely see the same customer more than once. There are so many rooms, and not one is filled with anyone I know. A couple of weeks ago, a little girl about my age named Annie checked in with her mama. A few days later I noticed that somebody drew hearts and flowers in pink chalk on the ground. ...
By Monique Quintero
"...I must have been about 2 years old when my parents and I stayed overnight at my maternal grandparents’ house. It was early morning, my parents were still asleep, but I was awake in my playpen. I looked up to see Angie standing in the hallway. As I called out to her, she turned and walked away. I managed to climb out of the playpen, but by the time I reached the living room, there was no sign of Angie. I later told my mother what had happened, to try to figure out how Angie had disappeared so quickly, but she just shook her head and told me, “You must have dreamt it. ...”
By Jessica Gonzalez
"... Dad would not have approved of Jose or anyone else for that matter, but he was not involved enough in my personal life to accidentally find out. Secretly, I felt empowered at 16 to take control of a part of my life, to live in one small space for myself. Jose was more than a boyfriend; he was freedom. Mom knew and supported me. On paper he looked great. He was handsome, worked at a bank, dressed well and had a nice car. ..."
By Cristian Vasquez
"... Our drive home from the freeway usually took 10 minutes, but that afternoon the streets overflowed with angry people armed with rocks, bottles and milk crates. The red light at Main Street and Century Boulevard was the first to trap us. The mob hurled bottles, rocks and any heavy object at our car. An uncoordinated “No justice, no peace!” chant pierced our closed windows. Dad and Uncle Heli looked in every direction, scanning for anyone trying to approach the car. A rioter tried opening the door to the car in front of us. ..."
By Sylvia Castañeda
"...The news of Susana’s disappearance spread quickly. Neighbors joined the family to search the Xaloco River nearby, up and down stream, until the owl was spotted on a mesquite. Huddled, rocking back and forth, Susana stood in a small, dark cave nearby glaring at the screeching owl. ..."
By CJ Salgado
"... In the business of radiation, work, too, is exciting. Radiation is a beast of burden when tamed but a dangerous wild animal when loose and uncontrolled. Every once in a while, it gets away and I pursue. ..."
By Felecia Howell
"... I had watched the love of my life and hoped she wasn't uncomfortable in my presence. I also wondered what she was feeling as she watched her mother watch me. From our first meeting when she visited us in New York, mom always received me with open arms. Though Takemi and I were not introduced to her as a couple, I saw in her eyes that she knew our truth. I sat in the nakedness of the moment. ..."
By Sarah Alvarado
"...Next came Happy Video, named by Manuel because he was so happy. The last store of their empire was Sono Video after the city of Sonora in Mexico. They hired family members to run them. Soon they were in a position to undercut any new competition and they had long since established customer loyalty. Blockbuster barely threatened them. Sonia dressed for work in a smart business skirt with a matching blazer; Manuel generally opted for a leisure suit with a jacket. They were in love with each other and partners in a lucrative business. ..."
By Suzanna Franek
"...One day I stopped by the house during my lunch hour to check on the construction progress and noticed a gang tag on my side porch. Etched into a thick layer of dust were the initials ‘CYS’. Instead of waiting another few weeks for construction to finish, with my 5-year old in tow, and another sister and niece who were living with us at the time, we pulled the bare necessities together and moved in the next day. I too was staking claim to territory. ..."
"... As the sun peeked above the Ventura skyline, a sweet aroma cut through the haze. Workers set up a table, spreading it with bread and coffee. They sat there – braceros and firefighters together – atop the hillside, amid the embers. Don Luis poured a cup of coffee and bit into the bread. It filled his empty stomach.
Then he and his buddies followed the foreman for the downhill trek and drive back to the bracero camp, where lemons and oranges waited to be picked. ..."
By Miguel Roura
"... Dressed in khaki pants and plaid shirt, the Guadalajara city cop carefully handled the electric wand, stepped over the wet floor, and with sadistic sarcasm repeated the question.
“You want another hit of the chicharra?
On the city streets of Guadalajara, local tokers taught me to associate the chicharra - the cicada - with ‘catching a buzz’ and getting high; taco vendors served these insects fried.
But at that instant the incisive sound and sensation of the cattle prod was added to my personal vocabulary. With that, I broke. I took the police to the apartment of a university student I’d met at a wedding named Marco, with whom I’d smoked a joint. ..."