By Jose Oseguera
“Just stay the hell back,” Julian yelled at little Thiago as he descended the hill upon which his grandmother’s house was located. Julian hated excluding his brother, but he wanted Thiago to see him as his strong older brother and the other kids to see him as one of their own. From a distance, Julian waved to his brother, as a way of saying goodbye and telling him to go into the house. But Thiago remained, looking at his brother drifting farther and farther away from him, his sputtered whimpers drifting into the loud howl of an abandoned puppy. “Just shut up,” said Julian, looking at his brother’s distant silhouette. “Don’t make me go up there again.”
The other boys were waiting impatiently at the bottom of the hill for Julian to hurry up. Although he wasn’t the youngest in the group, Julian felt less wily than the rest. He hung out with them because they were tough, and Julian wanted to toughen up. A menace by association. These street kids could rough you up and rob you blind without a moment’s notice. Julian liked that about them.
Julian’s hiking party included his cousin, Manny, who, unlike Julian– in Tijuana solely for summer vacation– was living in Mexico due to his parents’ finances. They grew up together, and being only a year apart, this meant that they were in constant competition for their family’s approval. Success in this gauntlet meant more to Manny than to Julian due to the former’s lack of parental affection. Manny’s parents had too many kids to care for and too little time to care about them individually.
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Jose Oseguera is an LA-based writer of poetry, short fiction and literary nonfiction. Having grown up in a diverse environment, Jose has always been interested in the people and places around him–especially the stories that each of these has to share.