» Nonfiction


A long car trip to the desert in the outskirts of Juarez. A Tecate in a coozie between my dad’s legs and my mom’s arm outstretched, her hand caressing his neck.


Loud Mexican music plays on the car radio, either Pedro Infante or Luis Miguel. Depends on their mood.


My brother and I look out the window at the cotton fields and abandoned farmhouses.


My dad turns on to an unpaved road and keeps driving. Dirt hits our face in the back seat.


The car stops. The dust settles and reveals we are on the edge of a mesa. He gets out of the car and we follow.


As far as the eye can see: coarse sand, spirited tumbleweeds, a sunset like an erupting volcano.


My dad takes one last sip of beer and looks down at me. With one swift move, he launches the bottle into the virgin desert.


“Don’t litter, kids,” he says dryly.


I roll my eyes, and he erupts in laughter, loud and piercing in the open space.


It was the decade AquaNet was eating away the ozone layer and I, an impressionable pre-teen, had been very vocal about recycling. I thought he hadn’t been listening.


“Vamonos,” he says but I stand on the precipice a bit longer, the humiliation cementing itself into my consciousness.


In the car, he snaps open a fresh bottle of beer and my mom resumes her pose in the passenger side, playing with his hair. The drive back home is darker. Not even Luis Miguel can break the silence.


Gabriela Knutson

Born and raised along the US/Mexican border, Gabriela Knutson likes to bring a multicultural sensibility to her writing, finding humor and beauty in somewhat dark spaces. Presently, she lives in Los Angeles.