Todavía Estamos Aquí - Short Story Version

It was a hot day, but I guess it’s always hot at the border. I was only seven, but I had already learned that much. Every. Day. Was. HOT. My friend Yasmin came by to play outside in the sprinklers and I said sure because I wanted to show her my new clear rubber shoes anyway. Oh and also my little sister who had just been born that morning. Mama had her right there in the living room. She yelled at Papa that there was no way an ambulance could make it in time but that’s okay because she wanted the curandera anyway. La señora arrived and that’s when Papa took me to the store to get new shoes. Mama named the baby Carmen and Carmen was already crying so much, and I thought yeah, just wait till you see that it’s this hot every day.

When I was nine, Mama decided to have another baby on, of course, another hot day. I didn’t understand why she wanted another one because I’m good but Carmen is always making messes and getting into trouble and wants mama to hold her all the time. And with this heat, how can she have any more energy for that? She named this one Ana and I was annoyed because why did mama give them easy names but she gave me Xiomara. The teachers at school who look at me with sad eyes when they learn where I live never know how to say my name and then the other kids laugh except the ones who get their names said wrong too. One time, a teacher said, “Hispanics always have the weirdest names” and some of the kids laughed and some didn’t and I went home and I told mama and papa what the teacher said and asked them, “Are we Hispanic?” Papa said, “Never mind the gringos, mija” and mama said, “We were here before they called us Hispanic and we’ll be here after.

I’m 13 now and I’m much smarter than I was that day because even though I didn’t know what they meant back then, I think I’m starting to get it now. Anyways, we’ve just had breakfast and also mama is pregnant again. It was cooler last night than it usually is because when I woke up this morning the glass of water mama keeps under my bed was kind of frosty. I wonder if that means we’ll finally get to see snow. Papa says maybe but mama says no, that’s not what that means. I wonder what she’ll name this baby.