Quiet

As a border city, El Paso is a crossing point, and also a meeting place, where individuals with their own hopes and destinies share bread, shelter, and a brief safe space before they move on up the road.

Perhaps they will meet at one of the local guest houses, where they can find a meal and some rest.

On this evening, in one such place, the men begin to settle down for the night. A volunteer, a young woman charged with the care of the house for the evening, sits in the darkness of the living room, which is adjacent to the men’s sleeping quarters. She listens to them as they talk and laugh; as one makes a silly joke and another reproaches him; as one man asks, “Please, for God’s sake, let me sleep,” while another begins singing, softly, a well-known ballad.

And then there is silence. In the regular breathing of the sleeping, quiet reins.

The volunteer, too, takes her rest in the darkness of the living room. She thinks of the stories that she has heard from these men—the nearly immobilizing homesickness, the terror of tomorrow, and the stories of anguish that drove them to leave their families.

She smiles, knowing that, at least for now, for this night they may know peace.

As does she.

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