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The Iguana Tree, Chapter 15 Excerpt

The Iguana Tree, Chapter 15 Excerpt

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Published by BlairPublisher
Set amid the perils of illegal border crossings, The Iguana Tree is the suspenseful saga of Lilia and Hector, who separately make their way from Mexico into the United States, seeking work in the Carolinas and a home for their infant daughter.
Set amid the perils of illegal border crossings, The Iguana Tree is the suspenseful saga of Lilia and Hector, who separately make their way from Mexico into the United States, seeking work in the Carolinas and a home for their infant daughter.

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Published by: BlairPublisher on Nov 17, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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03/17/2014

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From Chapter 15, The Iguana Tree by Michel StoneLilia crouched on the bank of the Rio Grande, waiting in darkness among shapeless trees withCarlos, the twins, and another man and a boy Carlos had met near the river. Lilia could swim,having grown up beside the sea, but she sensed the boy’s fear. His father fastened a rope aboutthe boy's waist and looped the other end around his own wrist. Carlos inflated a large trash bag,and gave it to the child to hold as a floatation device.A full hour yet before daybreak Lilia could barely see the ribbon of murky water stretchingbefore her.Carlos cautioned them. “Don’t take that river lightly. It is far deeper and far stronger than youimagine.”Lilia could make out the boy clutching his father’s hand, but she could see little else andwished she could swim the river in daylight instead of at this moonless pre-dawn hour, wheneverything about her felt strange and hidden.“Go,” Carlos said.The group scrambled down the muddy bank into the slippery shallows. Weeds brushed Lilia'sbare ankles like snakes slithering, parting for her entrance. The river was cool and swift, andwhen Lilia was chest-deep, she swam, visualizing remnants of Carlos gliding from her body likescales. The others were behind her now. She could barely distinguish the silhouette of a lone treeon the far bank, and it became her focus. She swam toward it, but the current pushed her downthe river. Soon she could no longer see the tree but thrust herself toward the bank. Sheconsidered the boy, tethered to his father, being dragged over and under and across this river likea fish snagged on some hook.
 
She crawled up the steep bank, the muck caking her hands and legs. Like a sightless creatureemerging into a dark and secretive world, she searched the river for the others, listening. The airsmelled and felt the same as on the Mexican side, and she discerned the same discarded cans andman-made debris on this bank as well. How odd that the great land of opportunity existed thismundanely. What had she expected? Trees sagging with ripe fruit? Fountains of cool, freshdrinking water or Coca-Cola?One of the twins clambered out of the river beside her, but neither the man with his son orthe other twin had surfaced. The first twin and Lilia watched and listened. Within moments Liliaperceived the splashing struggles of the man and his boy just a few meters away, and she swamout to them. She reached for the boy's flailing hand and helped him to the shore. The terrifiedboy's grip hurt her fingers, but Lilia held tight until he released her, safe in the tall grass, wherethey crouched, waiting.At the first hint of dawn Lilia noticed the boy's raw skin oozed red in a ring around his hips,belly and lower back where the rope tether had cut into him. Lilia thought of the fish the mencaught at the pier in her village: flopping, eyes bulging, lifeblood oozing where hooks rippedflesh. The boy's face revealed his pain, but he barely whimpered. He understood the expense, theseriousness of this endeavor.They sat in high green-brown grass, scanning the swirling surface in silence, save for theirlabored breathing. A cool breeze blew, and Lilia hugged her knees to her chest, surveying thedistant shoreline where Carlos stood, a small, dark dot on the green edge of her homeland. Carloswaved to them, then slipped beneath foliage and out of her sight. She prayed she would never seehim again.
 
The other twin did not emerge, and his brother paced the bank frantically calling to the river.After ten minutes, Lilia and the man and his boy had to proceed, to meet their contact on theAmerican side. The twin would not leave his brother behind, and he jumped and ran along theshore with grief and confusion, crying and cursing and pleading to God. Lilia and the others lefthim there beside the river, along with the rope and the trash bag that had carried the boy acrossthe water.They followed the bank to a patch of abandoned cars Carlos had told them to find. Thevehicles were strewn about like bones from some forgotten massacre. They were to climb inside,hide, and not show themselves until someone approached and called out the name Juan.Lilia recalled Carlos's instructions: “You may see others hiding like you. You'll have no needto speak to them, no need to answer when someone approaches and calls out Pedro or José orJesús. You listen for
 Juan
. When you hear this name, you move quickly to him, and he will takeyou on your way.”Lilia, shivering from wet clothes and exertion, chose a car similar to the others: paint longgone, make and model indiscernible, front seat and steering wheel missing. She curled into theback seat. The interior, sun-bleached and ragged, looked to have once been red, and strips hungfrom its ceiling like a weathered tapestry. The interior smelled of others who'd come before Lilia,a distinct human essence. This car graveyard seemed unlikely cover for those seeking a betterlife.Weeds grew through the rusted-out floorboard. Tiny purple blossoms at the tips of long, thinstems reached for the morning sunlight streaming through the broken window. Lilia fingered adetermined stem, bending the tiny blossom to her nose, but it released no scent. She'd never seen

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