As I walk in the hot summer El Paso sun to my classroom at UTEP my shoulders sizzle. I sometimes feel like a rotisserie chicken. My skin browns more with each rotation to and from the parking lot to the Classroom Building where I meet with my students. Beads of sweat begin to pill at the base of my skull and race down my neck even as my hands snap to wipe them away. I loathe how hot I get. This is my daily routine. By the end of the month my shoulders and arms will be a deep coffee brown while my legs will be latte. I will never be evenly brown.
As I walk I look at the people shuffling, biking, running, strolling past me. Today, a little girl around ten years old scurried toward campus as I walked away. She looked so odd because I wondered why she was by herself. As I stared, I forgot this. She ran pitched forward from the weight of an overstuffed backpack. The tips of her ballet flats were the only thing to touch the hot concrete. She skipped across as if she were skimming the surface of water. Her black pigtails flopped. Her long pink dress flowed in the wind. I wondered if I imagined her.
As I walk I think about the dream my mother told me she had last night and what she thinks it means. I think of how somber her voice sounds, and I can hear the dream clinging to the words as she explains she dreamt my dad. She thinks the dream is more than a dream and that something is wrong. He's sick. I stay quiet after she says this. I walk into the building and sigh with my whole body as the cool air hugs my front and the hot air grips my back. I stop listening for a moment. I don't want to hear the dream. She stays quiet after she's done. The silence makes me feel like she wants me to do something. "Maybe you should text my Tia Elia," I finally say.