What it Takes 

Everything will work out, everything will be fine. I tell my friend being shipped off to basic training to save his undocumented mother from deportation. It’s strange telling someone everything will be fine, when the night before you were choking on your tears. 
I tried closing my eyes and falling asleep, but I was afraid I’d dream of drowning again. I tell myself things will be ok, but when I try to look ahead into the future—it’s bleak.  

I wonder what it would be like. Him at war. An American flag on his left arm, defending the rights of mankind—their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Meanwhile, back in America his mother remains a victim of freedom with an asterisk. Only Americanos

I fall asleep swallowing my tears. 

I promise. I say smiling. 

We hug and I walk away. 

There’s something in my throat. It’s small like a pebble, but it gets bigger. A rock, then a boulder. A mountain replaces my body. My head rests atop at the very edge. If I strain my neck and look down I can see my feet. I turn to my right and there he is. In uniform. The flag on his left arm as he peers down towards the bottom of the mountain. 

I say. Everything’s gonna be fine. 

He looks towards me and sits beside me and begins braiding my hair. Can you swim? He says. 

Can you shoot a gun? I reply. 

No, but i’ll learn, he says finishing off my braid. I might not make weight, he says. He sticks his finger down his throat. Purging all over my mountain body. He starts searching through chunks of vomit and pulls out a small red and blue ticket. 

What’s that? I say. 

This, he says holding it up to the white sky, is what it takes.