We wear hand-me downs and each other’s shoes, even if they’re too tight and pinch. To save money, father buzzes our hair down to bristles with shears that rattle and sometimes catch patches of skin. We eat in silence, the only sound metal chinking on plastic plates, food being chewed and swallowed.
After supper, we lay on the shag carpet watching black-and-white TV, listening to a family that’s nothing like our own, hearing how happy they are, noticing what a fine car they drive, how big their dining room is.
At night we three sleep on the same mattress. We never dream, or if we do, we never say. In the mornings we rise before the sun and make it to the fields, row after row of the same bushes, flocked with blood-red berries glinting against green.
We work on our knees, filling the flats as fast as we can because it’s cash money they pay here. Afternoons, we stand in line with the other migrants, wilted and sweaty, each person taking his turn, handing over a punch card and receiving berry-stained bills in return.
Years later, one brother steals a car, another brother robs a convenience store, and I break into a house.
Now we wear orange uniforms, sit in similar cells, stroll in sunlight for a single hour each day. At night we lay in cots. We imagine freedom, beaches with chalk-colored sand, a skiff bobbing on waves.