Fourteen years ago, when Delia was just three, the dull surface of the ancient silver coin buried in the desert sand near the ocotillos whispered to her. Aqui estoy. Here I am.
Now Delia heard another sonorous chime like one would hear the tinkling doorbell reaching even the uppermost floors of Mr. Wall's grotesque mansion, where she would deftly and immediately prep for his acquaintances next dreaded appearance.
Aqui estoy. I am over here. And as in her toddler years, when she would wander purposely for hours with her abuela searching for a cactus that would only show itself to the worthy, Delia stood in this midwestern city and absorbed. Eyes shuttered, ears alive, and her youthful body unmoving, Delia felt the intangible tracks of the backpack. They could have been drawn with a Sharpie, so clear they were to her here in the biting cold breath of the Twin Cities and its blocks-long mounds of plowed and street-dirty snow.
Delia skimmed the length of Hennepin Avenue in an unconsciously furtive scan. She had been running for months since her escape from Mr. Wall and his friends. Actually, Delia had been running since she and her abuela were swept up at the border and caged for almost two years. Her vigilance and extraordinary detection abilities had been life-saving in Mexico and Washington DC, and just came naturally. No one was on the streets of downtown Minneapolis on this below-freezing madrugada though. This pre-dawn day when Delia would find a backpack that whispered "aqui estoy".
Governor Delia Vasquez and her grandmother were both impressed by the climate scientist leading the TED talks that day. They had enjoyed a meal with her and her wife the previous evening when the Governor revealed her accelerated plans to re-seed the state through non-lethal drone technology. In partnership of course with the robust and re-invigorated Deparment of Natural Resources and EPA. It was to be a pilot program that if successful, would be duplicated in other ravaged states and regions, even the Amazon. The Governor was excited and oblivious to the climate scientist's concerns on funding.
For Delia had found a backpack two decades ago. She had been cold, hungry and desperate for her abuela still imprisoned with other asylum seekers in south Texas. A backpack, with a mere half-inch visible in a looming snowbank, had whispered "here I am". Delia had dug it, tugged it, then finally pulled it out of the crusting snow. It had been so heavy that she had had to slide it on the ice of the sidewalk to get it to her alley. She had hoped for heavy winter clothing or even blankets, but she knew better. Only money talked like that. Delia had unzipped the backpack and though she had known what to expect, her gasp had kissed the frigid air with a huge foggy puff. Millions. It must be millions, Delia Vasquez de la Cruz had thought. Millions of dreams come true.