There were bodies writhing and twisting on the ground. They clawed at each other, desperate for pockets of fresh air. Then there was a thud. All we could see on my phone was the dusty ground—a flood of sneakers, flip-flops, and bare feet running by.
"No!" I pleaded. I wanted to reach through the screen and save whoever had just gone down, but I had to find another feed to see what was happening. I scrolled through image after image. The crowds on both sides of the Wall were multiplying by the second now. Surging with rage and heartache. Shouting into their screens or at the Border Patrol helicopters swooping in and circling overhead.
In Tijuana, there were people scaling the chain-link fence. Tripping over themselves as they charged toward the bits of that broken girl.
¡Era una niña! they wailed. Mothers clutched their children, tears coursing down their cheeks.
In San Diego, there were people banging rocks on the Great Grotesque Wall. Pounding and hammering at the ballasts, like a growing thunder.
No more walls! No more deaths! they yelled. There were thousands of hands grabbing, scratching. Trying to rip apart the steel, the barbed wire, the hatred that went into building the Wall. The green helicopters hovered over them like a venomous cloud.
"What are the helicopters for? Are they gonna hurt more people?" Ernie asked in a tiny voice.
"I don't think so. No, they cannot," Mami said, reaching for my phone, maybe to shut it off and protect us from seeing any more. Only, as she did, a new and horrifying sound belted out from my screen.
The helicopters were shooting into the crowds on both sides.
"No!" I screamed.
"Dios mío santísimo . . ."
The shrieks and moans were piling on top of each other. It didn't matter what language they spoke; they were all crying Help! Ernie buried his head in Mami's chest.
"Wait! What if . . . what if Tía Luna's there?" I sputtered.
Mami lunged at the kitchen counter to get her phone.
"Todo va estar bien. Tranquilos," was all she'd say as she dialed her sister's number.
"Call Tía Luna!" I screamed at my phone. It couldn't recognize my voice when I was this frantic and screechy, though. So I tried to type in her name, my fingers jerking and stuttering from key to key.
A stale recording came on at the other end of the phone:
Your request cannot be processed at this time. Please hang up and try again.
Mami was pacing across the linoleum, hanging up and trying again. Hanging up and trying again.
"Do you think she's there?" I asked. "She wouldn't go there, would she?"
"No. No creo," Mami said, her face a knot of pain and anger. She put down her phone for a brief moment and clasped her hands together in front of our kitchen window like she was begging the sky to tell her something else.
"I don't get it," Ernie whimpered. "What's going on?"
There were so many shots coming from my screen now. I couldn't count them anymore. I couldn't do anything. The gap between us and whatever was going on at the border widening like a giant hole.
Dividing us into here and there.
Before and after....