She Dreams of El Paso
– Fiction by Silvana Jakich –
El Paso was a mystery. It never made it into the New Zealand education curriculum when it came to studying America. And even now—after living in New York City for the last 19 years—she knew next to nothing about this charmingly named town. She’d asked all her American friends in New York “what’s El Paso like”? Nobody knew. The most informed answer was “that’s deep in West Texas.”
It’s anonymity tickled her interest and she rolled the name in her mouth daily. El Paso. El…Paso. The Passage. A mystical chime to those words, in her mind El Paso held the promise of something bigger—vast blue skies shouldering wide open spaces, an intensely sexy dry heat and a deep Mexican flavour to boot. A place where the desert would speak to you as you baked in its merciless sunshine. Penelope Cruz should be saying it in some nameless, faceless blockbuster. Soaked from a Chicago rainstorm, Penelope bursts into her agent’s office and yells; “I’m dying here. Give me an assignment in El Paso.”
So she said good bye to her New York life for a week. Good bye to the long, drawn out shadows cast by skyscrapers and tiny slivers of sky in between. Good bye to rotting garbage spilling into the streets and to the numerous canines who slurped at it while owners tugged them away with a yank of the leash. Good bye to her husband’s warm eyes and their one eyed cat nudging her in the morning. Good bye to catering gigs that went on too late and paid too little, and she boarded her flight to El Paso. It was her first role in a big time movie with a once-upon-a-time famous star. And they were flying her out and paying for a hotel that had a moderately sized pool and a live band on Saturdays.
As the plane shook off New York, she shook off her regular life and settled into being…an actor going on location.
The car window rolled down revealing a young woman whose long black curls spilt over a t-shirt with a parrot theme.
“I’m Karla. Welcome to El Paso. Do you have all your bags?”
The magnificent desert shared its border with Mexico and America and as they drove, Juarez peeked out from a road here, behind a building there. Trump’s wall glowed along the border on several occasions to clarify the us and them. She snickered at the unnecessary rigidity and thickness of the structure—a metal dinosaur skeleton that would eventually give way to the elements and rust.
Her mind was clear now—freed from the cacophony of honking horns and angry strangers arguing over a yellow taxi. She was fully aware that today was a new beginning. That her life—stuffed so tightly into a city on an island—was no longer feasible. That she had shed her skin the moment she uttered the words “El Paso” and had opened herself up to the beautiful expanse both inside and out.
And in this moment—this undeniable, crystal clear moment—she knew that she could never return to New York. She would stay in El Paso—a New Zealander, far from home—ready to embrace the ghosts of cowboys and Mexican Revolutionaries as they straddled the tips of Trump’s wall sharing cigarettes in the moonlight.
Silvana Jakich has lived in New York City for the past 20 years. As well as writing screenplays and short stories, Silvana also enjoys acting and has been busy with independent feature films and commercials for the last couple of years. Her flash memoir “Know Me Well“ was featured in our 2017 issue. Follow her on Instagram @silvjakich.