Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez


Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez is an Assistant Professor at LaGuardia Community College. Her creative voice stems from her personal experiences and her desire for liberation. Her work has been published in Huizache: The Magazine of Latino Literature, Hispanecdotes, and Everyday Fiction. Follow her on twitter @mariposachula8


Libertad tucks her hands under her thighs and tries to listen to the white psychologist in front of her tell her she is clinically depressed. He recommends medication to help her. She hears what he says but it’s not making sense. His camel-colored cardigan almost perfectly matches the chair. He crosses his legs and Libertad can see the bottom of his right leather shoe. Does he know he has a piece of gum stuck on there, she wonders. He taps his pen on the yellow legal pad resting on his lap. His silver framed glasses hang at the tip of his nose. How old is he? she thinks. Maybe he just dresses like an old man. Maybe he spent too much time under the sun. Maybe he should never wear that cardigan again.

“Miss,” he looks down at his legal pad, “Ultragarcia.” He pushes his glasses up.

“Altagracia” Libertad doesn’t think about it she just lets the R roll off her tongue. It isn’t the first time someone at this university butchers her name but “Ultragarcia” is a first. She would have laughed at his ignorance if she didn’t feel like that piece of nasty chewed gum on the sole of his shoe.

“Sure,” he folds his hands. “Did you hear what I said? I believe you have clinical depression or more commonly known as major depression. And I can refer you to the psychiatrist today so he can prescribe you some medication.”

Libertad nods. It doesn’t matter to her that she doesn’t know what being “clinically depressed” means. Or that this is her first time in therapy. She needs this to be over. She wants it all to be over.

“Very well.” He squeezes the legal pad in between the cushion and the chair and uses the arms of the chair to push himself up. “Follow me.”

Libertad grabs her backpack and follows after him. They walk down a narrow hallway and into the next office. The framed paintings of lighthouses and oceans annoy her. Another white doctor looks up from his computer to see who’s entered.

Dr. camel-colored cardigan motions to Libertad to take a seat, “This student can benefit from some standard SSRIs.” He looks at Libertad and she can’t tell if they’re waiting for her to say something. Before she can speak he turns around and pats the other white doctor on the back, “I’ll leave you both to it.”

Other white doctor returns to his computer and begins to type, “Let’s see here.” This guy is much younger. His white lab coat is too short on his arms. He wears a red lanyard around his neck and his ID holder brushed up again his navy blue work pants.

“Can I see your ID?” He extends his arm palm up waiting for Libertad to give him her ID.

Libertad reaches into her back pocket and hands it to him. He turns to his computer and he continues to type.

She feels heavy. Not her usual “I’m so fat” heavy but heavy like that time she took all them books back to the library and she almost tipped over from the extra weight. Except this time there aren’t any books in her bag. It takes more energy than she has to not fall from that chair. Her eyes are puffy. Her mouth is dry. She wants to cry but she doesn’t know why.

She’s only there because she had shown up drunk to Professor Flores’s English class and he “strongly recommends” she talk to someone. It wasn’t like she was completely wasted. She just happened to smell a lot like liquor and just happened to have had a drink or two before class. But it’s not like she was drinking by herself in the dark in a corner somewhere. She was out at a crowded bar. The bars around campus are always crowded, even in the middle of the day. It wasn’t the first time she’d shown up to Dr. Flores’s class after a long night of drinking or after an afternoon of day drinking but this was the first time she got caught.  

“Libertad,” he said in a soft voice after class with his eyebrows furrowed, “I know college can be hard. Believe me. I’ve been there. And you’re a great student. And I feel like we’ve known each other long enough for me to say this.” He paused and placed his hand on Libertad’s arm, “It’s okay to ask for help. I’m more than happy to walk with you to the counseling center.”

The shame hit her like a thousand bricks. She refused his offer and insisted she’d call and make the appointment on her own.  

The vibration of her cellphone in her back pocket brings her out of her head. She reaches for it and sees Miriam’s text message:

Meeting still at 1PM?

Libertad feels her stomach drop. She’d forgotten to find a room for the meeting and had forgotten to send a reminder email to the group. It’s already 11:08am.

She sent a text message to the assistant director of Casa Libre, the Latinx cultural house on campus: Hey, is the living room available at 1pm today? I forgot to book it for the planning meeting.

Libertad looks up and other white doctor is still typing away. Her phone buzzes again.

Sure is. Can you send me that report by the end of the day?

Damn it, she thinks. She had also forgotten about the community outreach report that is due that day. Libertad had been working at Casa Libre for 2 years. She spends more time there than anywhere else on campus.

Sure can, she replies. She also replies to Miriam, Yes, 12PM living room. Tell others.

Libertad puts her phone back in her pocket. Had other white doctor forgotten she’s even there? she thinks.

“Hi,” she leans forward and waves to get his attention. He stops typing and looks at her. “Am I going to be here much longer?”

He turns to look at her and crosses his arms, “Are you feeling anxious?” Libertad is surprised by how genuine he sounds.

“Well, a little bit but I’ve been sitting here for like a minute and no one’s telling me what’s happening.” Libertad puts her hands underneath her thighs and waits for him to reply.

He nods and types a little bit more and turns his attention back to Libertad, “Well, Dr. Smith has diagnosed you with clinical depression and the best course of action is to prescribe you some antidepressants.” He pauses and gives Libertad a slight smile. “I will ask you a series of questions and then you can go. Is that alright?”

Libertad nods. 

“Have you taken medication for mental illnesses before?”


“Does anyone in your family currently have or ever been diagnosed with a mental illness?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Are you currently taking any medications?”


“Do you smoke?”


“Do you drink?”


“Do you exercise regularly?”


He looks at her and waits for her to say more. But she doesn’t. Libertad is annoyed but tries hard to not let it show on her face.

Of course, I drink. I’m in college. And when the fuck am I supposed to work out? In between my 5 classes, my job, and my community work? Sure, I’ll get right to it, doc, she thinks.

“Alrighty,” He hits one last key and swivels his chair toward Libertad.

She leans back into the chair. Her phone buzzes.

“You’re all set. You can pick up your prescription at the pharmacy. You might experience a change in moods, a gain in appetite, and a loss of sex drive. But if you begin to have suicidal thoughts please come see us immediately.” He smiles at her.

 “Any questions?”

Libertad shakes her head and reaches for her backpack. She rushes down that same narrow hallway and out the front door.

The cold air slaps her in the face and knocks the wind out of her. Libertad struggles to breathe. She tries to take short breaths but can feel her heart beat get faster. Her eyes begin to swell with tears. She sits down on the bench outside the counseling center and cries into her backpack. She doesn’t want to be depressed. She doesn’t want medication. She doesn’t want to be this way. She wants to be happy like everyone else.

She feels her phone buzz. Libertad wipes her face and takes a deep breath. She looks at her phone. She’d missed so many messages:

Do you have the agenda?

Carol says she’s gonna be late so she’ll give us an update on the last night’s canvassing at the end of the meeting

Did you get the permits for the rally?

Should we make posters today?

Will there be snacks?

Oye, hija, tienes dinero que me prestes?

Don’t give mom money. I gave her money already.

When are you coming home?

Her legs move like she’s walking through wet cement.  She checks the time, 11:30am. She puts her phone away and makes her way to Casa Libre. She didn’t have an agenda typed out so she’d have to do that before folks got there. Maybe she could also type up that report. And, maybe she’d have time to figure out what she had for homework.

Casa Libre is an old Victorian house that has been repurposed as a cultural center. The living room and the dining room are now meeting rooms. The kitchen is still a kitchen. The rooms upstairs have been turned into offices. The building needs work. The robin egg blue paint is peeling. The floorboards creak, the doors jam, and the furniture is probably older than Libertad. But on any given day Casa Libre is alive with students hanging out, attending or planning events, and venting about life. Casa Libre is her home away from home.

Libertad makes her way up to the staff office in the back of the house. It’s drafty, dark, and best of all, it’s empty right now. She logs onto one of the computers and checks her email. The first message is from the Counseling Center notifying her that the medication is ready for pick up. Libertad feels her stomach sink.

She doesn’t have time to deal with that now. She doesn’t want to deal with it now.

Libertad manages to complete an agenda for the meeting and the report the assistant director asked for. She gathers her belongings and makes her way down to the living room. The room is already packed with students.

 “Hey, there she is,” Miriam walks up to Libertad and embraces her. Libertad smiles.

“Hey, do we need anything?” Libertad looks around. “The room is filling up, I’m going get more chairs from the other room.”

Libertad is used to large crowds. She doesn’t like them but she can deal. She’s been doing activist work since high school. But today there were too many bodies around her. Other’s laughter annoyed her, embittered her. She wanted to laugh too but even when she looked inside herself there was nothing there. It was like staring into an endless pit. She doesn’t want anything to do with anyone right now but she also worries that folks might be able to tell that she’s been crying and that they’ll ask her questions.

Libertad carries a fold out chair under each arm and takes them to the living room. Miriam and others go for more chairs. There isn’t room on the couches for her to sit so Libertad stands by the piano waiting for the meeting to start.

Once in the room, Miriam begins a slow clap, signaling to the crowd that the meeting is starting, and others follow along until everyone is clapping at the same beat. Libertad takes a deep breath. She is overwhelmed with a desire to cry.

Miriam begins the meeting, “Alright, gente. Gracias for being here today. We got lots to do and little time to do it. We leave for fall break this week and the march takes place as soon as we get back.” Libertad passes out the agendas. Miriam nods at her to take the lead.

Libertad clears her throat, “Ok. Logistics. First of all, we are still looking for folks to volunteer to be safety marshals. If you’re interested show up to tomorrow’s training in this room. We need as many people to be trained because we’re expecting about a thousand people.” She can see folks nod. “We also need folks to speak to the media. If you’re interested in taking on that role please let me know and I can give you our media guide. We don’t want folks talking out of their asses out there. We have a message and we gotta all be on the same page.” She looks up to make sure folks are following.

“That said, we need folks to be taking pictures and video. Send all that stuff to the email listed on the agenda. Our speakers are confirmed. Vanessa has our permits, right?” Libertad looks around for Vanessa.

“Yeah, I got them. I’ve left copies of them upstairs.”

“Good idea. I’ve rented the megaphone from student services but if you got one or know where we can get more let us know. We’re going to be working on signage from now until the day of the event. You can drop by here and there’ll be supplies in the dining room where you can make a poster or you can make your own and bring it.” Libertad looks at the agenda.

“Yeah, that’s about it for logistics. And now Vanessa will talk about the route and the safety protocols.” She nods to Vanessa and takes her place by the piano.

Libertad can feel her heart race. Like she tried to run and her body is reminding her she’s too out of shape for that. She tries to focus on Vanessa’s voice, “We’ll start from McKinney Park on the corner of Main and 1st and walk down Main to the student union. Libertad and her group will lead the march…”

But her thoughts are louder. Libertad is filled with the overwhelming desire to cry again. She takes a deep breath. She can’t stop thinking about being clinically depressed. She’ll have to do more research once she gets home because she had little idea what that means. Libertad has used many words to describe the dark feelings she carried: stress, anger, loneliness, resentment, hurt, pain, oblivion, despair. But depression never crossed her mind. She can hear her friends now: “Only white people get depression.” Or “Girl, you’re not depressed. You brown so your life just sucks.” Or “self-care is a privilege.”

“Earth to Libertad,” she hears Miriam say.

Libertad looks around the room. Everyone stares at her. “Sorry. What’d you say?”

Miriam rolls her eyes, “Our next meeting?”

“Uh. Next Monday. Same time, same place. Safety marshal training tomorrow.” She smiles at Miriam. Folks begin to pack their belongings.

“Stick around to make posters, folks. Thanks for being here. Let us know if you have any questions.” Miriam talks as people make their way out. She looks at Libertad.

“You okay? You looking a little extra sweaty right now?”

Libertad can feel her body ache, “Mmm hmm. Tired.”

“I feel ya, girl. Get some rest. We still have lots to do. You going to class?”

Libertad hasn’t even thought about class, “Probably not. I need to take a nap. Send me notes.” She grabs her backpack and heads out.

“Here, take stuff to make posters. We still need a shit ton.”

Libertad nods and takes the supplies. She doesn’t want to make posters. There are plenty of people to make posters. She wants to go home and sleep. But telling Miriam that might take more energy than she has.

Libertad finds a window seat in the bus. With her headphones blaring it is easy to block out the noise of other students laughing, chatting, and making plans for the weekend. Libertad focuses on the thumping of the music in her ears. The campus is a mix of old and new buildings. Brick and stainless steel. Trees line the streets. The ground is littered with orange, red, and brown leaves.

Once in her apartment, Libertad doesn’t bother to turn on the lights. She drops her backpack and jacket on the couch. She opens the large pizza box on the coffee table and grabs a piece of the crust leftover. It’s a few days old so the bread is extra dry. She goes to the fridge for something else to eat. In the fridge, she finds a bottle of ketchup, salad dressing, a rotting tomato still in its bag, and a can of Tecate. Libertad stares at the beer. Her stomach grumbles. She can go to the store and buy groceries or she can also order some food or she can also hit up someone that lives in the dorms and ask them for their ID card so she can sneak into the cafeteria. But all of that seems like a lot of work right now.

Libertad grabs and opens the beer. She chugs the beer and tosses the empty can in the sink. That’s her go to party trick. People usually hoot and holler because they don’t expect a girl to be able to chug like that. Usually she feels proud that she can do things people don’t expect her to do. Like drink like a man. Or go to college. But now, she feels pathetic.

She goes into her bedroom and into her bed. She shoves all the dirty clothes on the floor. Tries to dust off as many of the crumbs as possible and goes under the covers. She doesn’t care it’s the middle of the afternoon. She is done.

Libertad cries and sleeps most of the night. In the morning, she feels groggy. Her head hurts. She feels nauseous. She feels like she partied hard last night instead of having spent 12 hours in bed crying, tossing and turning. She debates getting out of bed in the morning. She needs to go to class and to go pick up her medication and to go to Casa Libre and set up for the training. But she just doesn’t have the energy for all of that. The guilt sets in. It is always guilt that feels the worst.

Libertad goes out to her living room to search for her cellphone. She already knows she’ll have a million missed emails, texts, and calls. She’s right. She takes the phone with her back to bed.

Donde andas, hija. Porque no contestas.




Moms getting annoying. Just pick up your phone already.

Can you get more posters for us?

Daniel says the campus police are giving him grief about the march & that the paperwork wasn’t submitted in time


We at Murphys!!!!!! Come thru!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Where you at cabrona? Murphys, be there.

Fine, be like that.

I miss you.

Hola, hija. Como andas?

She has seven missed calls from her mom, one missed called from Miriam, and one missed called from an unknown number and one voicemail.

She brings the cover to her face and listens to the voicemail.

Hello, Miss Ulta..Ultagr..Liberty, your prescription is available for pick up at the pharmacy. You’ll need your school ID to pick it up. Please call us if you have any questions.

Libertad replies to her mom: hi ma, my phone died. Im good. In class. Love ya.

Even if she wants to get through today it all feels like too much. She decides she won’t go to class but that she’ll at least go pick up her medication.

She texts Miriam: hey ill forward Daniel the confirmation email from campus police about the march. Can you lead the training today? I’m not going to be able to make it. Ill email you all the handouts.

Libertad puts her phone in her back pocket. She knows Miriam will not be happy. What if all this was too much for Miriam too and now she was pawning off her share of the work onto Miriam?

Libertad takes a deep breath. She doesn’t want to brave the world. But she can’t stay in bed. Even if she tries to sleep some more sleep won’t come and instead she’ll lay in bed thinking of all the things she should be doing. At least she doesn’t feel like crying anymore. She needs to get through today. Tomorrow she’ll be on a bus back home for Thanksgiving and she won’t have to deal with anything going on on campus. Instead, she’ll have to deal with her family. But right now, that seems more doable.

Libertad waits in line at the pharmacy. The waiting room is packed with students coughing and sneezing. Most of them bury their faces in their phones. She walks up to the pharmacy window and hands the young pharmacist her student ID card. He smiles at her. He’s cute, she thinks. Libertad feels the butterflies in her stomach. But then panic sets in. He is about to see what kind of medication she is there to get. She feels embarrassed. And shame. And heaviness.

When he comes back with the medication she snatches it out of his hand and stuffs it in her backpack. She signs the consent to charge her student account and leaves without making eye contact.

Libertad rushes back to her apartment. She doesn’t want to run into anybody. She doesn’t want to see anyone. She wants to disappear.

Back in her apartment she takes out a cup of ramen from the cupboard, runs some water from the faucet into the cup, and places the cup in the microwave. She sits on the couch and pulls out her medication. She shakes the orange container and reads the instructions. Take one a day with food. Do not drink alcohol while on this medication. May cause drowsiness, insomnia, diarrhea, increase in appetite, lower libido. Great, she thinks. I’m need to eat and shit a lot. That’ll take care of my depression.

She takes the cup of ramen out of the microwave and covers it in Tapatio hot sauce. She sits back down on the couch and checks her phone. She has one message from Miriam:

Fine, you owe me one.

Libertad is relieved. That could’ve gone worse. She opens her laptop to watch something online. Even though it doesn’t feel like she’s accomplished much, she’s done. She needs her mind to not be going a million thoughts a second. The internet helps numb her.

Libertad wakes up startled and realizes it is already dark out. Fuck, she thinks. Her body aches. The day is almost over and she hasn’t done much. She still needs to pack for her trip back home because her bus departs early in the morning.

She digs through her closet for her duffle bag. She will only be home a few days. She checks the piles of clothes on the floor for clean jeans and t-shirts and shoves two pairs of each into the duffle and zips it. She puts her laptop in her backpack. She looks at the orange bottle on the coffee table. She still hasn’t taken one and isn’t sure if she should. But she shoves the bottle in her backpack anyway.

Going home is always bittersweet for her. She misses her younger siblings but she doesn’t miss her parents’ drama. They are always fighting and yelling. Their fights aren’t as bad as when Libertad was younger but they still bother her just the same. The guilt, however, of having left her siblings to fend for themselves while she went away to college is always there.

The three-hour drive to the city gives her enough time to get herself together. When the bus finally arrives, her mother and siblings are already there waiting for her.

Libertad has one younger sister and two younger brothers. She’s the first in her family to go to college. Her parents expected her to stay at home while she attended school but Libertad had other plans. They freaked out at the idea of their daughter going away and living on her own because that’s not what señoritas do. But Libertad went anyway because she wasn’t interested in being ladylike. However, that meant leaving her siblings behind and that became a new kind of pain for her.

When they get home Marco, who is eight, and Miguel, who is ten, rush to the living room to continue playing on their Playstation. Paola, who is 16, goes into the kitchen with her mother to help with dinner. Libertad goes and drops off her luggage in Paola’s room and then joins her brothers in the living room. She watches them play until she cant keep her eyes open any longer and dosses off.

Libertad is awakened by her mother’s yells.

“Libertad, what’s this?” Her mom walks out of the room holding the small orange bottle. She shakes off the grogginess from her nap and focus on her mother.

Libertad sees what her mother holds and feels like she’s at the top of a rollercoaster waiting to drop. She gets up from the couch, walks up to her mother, and snatches the pill bottle from her hand.

“Why are you going through my stuff?” Libertad feels her face get hot. The anger bubbles inside her waiting to explode.

“Porque soy tu madre!”

Libertad rolls her eyes, being my mother doesn’t give her permission to go through my backpack, she thinks.

“What are those, Libertad? Ay dios mio. Are you doing drugs?” Libertad’s mom presses her rosary to her chest and covers her mouth.

“Ma, stop. It’s not like that.”

Paola comes out of the kitchen and into the living, “What’s going on?”

Before Libertad can answer her mother jumps in, “Libertad is doing drugs! I knew it. I knew that school would be too much for her.”

“Oh my god, mother. It’s not drugs.” Libertad turns to her Paola. “Mom found my antidepressants and now she’s freaking the fuck out.” Her sister doesn’t say anything.  

“Que es eso? Antidepressants? Is that the name of the drug?”

Libertad sighs. She sits at the dining room table. “Ma, they’re antidepressants. They’re to help me with my depression. I’m supposed to take them every day.” Libertad sinks into herself. This is the first time she says it aloud. This is the first time saying it to anyone. And, of course, her mother would turn it into a telenovela scene.

Libertad waits for her mother to react. But her mother doesn’t say anything. She stares blankly at Libertad.


Her mother also sits down at the table.

“Pero, how could this happen?”

“Ma, it’s fine. I’m fine. It’s no big deal.”

“No big deal? You’re telling me que se le metio la depresion a una de mis hijas and it’s no big deal?”

“Ma, you don’t catch depression. It’s not a cold.”

“Ay, dios mio. Ay, bendito. Se te metio el diablo.”

Libertad feels her entire body go cold. She really wants to be patient with her mother. She really wants to have a discussion with her. She really wants her mother to hold her. But, this isn’t their relationship and Libertad is losing her patience.

“Oh my god, Ma, depression isn’t the mark of the devil. Just please stop talking.”

“I bet those doctors blame me. You think I’m a bad mother,” she begins to cry.

Libertad looks at her sister, “Can you say something, please?”

Paola shrugs. Libertad rolls her eyes. She stands from the table and now towers over her mother.

“Why does everything have to be about you?”  Libertad leaves the table and slams the bedroom door. She holds her breath and counts to ten. She refuses to cry.

Libertad can still hear her mother crying in the living room. Why does it always have to be this way? she thinks.

No one bothers her for the rest of the evening and she is grateful for that. She doesn’t want to talk to her mother because she knows somehow she’ll end up apologizing. And, at that moment, she just doesn’t need it.

For the rest of the weekend no one mentions the medication and the depression. At thanksgiving dinner they eat their tamales in peace, the boys play video games, Paola stares at her phone, and Libertad reads on the couch.

Her mother hugs her when they drop her off at the bus stop the next day.

“Cuidate, por favor. Que dios te bendiga.”

“Thanks, mami.I’ll be back for winter break.”

Libertad hugs her younger siblings goodbye.

She uses the bus ride back to campus to catch up on homework. The heaviness returns. Her shoulders droop. Her chest feels sunken in. It’s as if she carries rocks on her body. Each leaving an impression on her skin. Digging itself in. Making them harder and harder to remove. She wants to cry. 

Libertad doesn’t want her younger siblings to see her like that. She wants to have fun with them. She wants to hear them laugh. She needs to remember their smiles.

With her mother, there is rarely any room for Libertad to unload her burdens. And, her father was definitely not a source of refuge. The more Libertad thinks about it, the more she feels alone. The loneliness feels like a gaping hole in her heart. If she closes her eyes and covers her ears she is convinced she can hear the air inside her. Like a seashell.

She tries to work on her homework but Beowulf  is not what she needs at that moment. Libertad puts the book away and closes her eyes. She knows she probably won’t fall asleep but she needs to shut out the world. She turns up Carla Morrison, the saddest songs she has on her phone.

The next day she goes to class and contacts Miriam about hammering out the last details for the march. They meet at Casa Libre.

“Hey, girl. How you doing?” Miriam sits on the couch and looks up at Libertad.

“I’m alright. How was your break?” Libertad sits on a seat opposite her.

“Girl, you know my family stays crazy.”

“Same.” Miriam stares at Libertad.

“Lib, what’s really going on with you? You been acting different.”

Libertad’s heart begins to speed up.

“Nada, mujer. I’m fine. Just trying to get through this, you know?” Libertad pretends to search for something in her bag.

“Nah. Nope. No. I don’t believe you.” Miriam crosses her arms.

Libertad smiles, “You don’t have to believe me.”

“OMG, Lib. Are you pregnant?” Miriam scooches to the edge of the couch.

“Oh my god. Seriously, Miriam? I’m not pregnant.”

Miriam leans back, “Well you’ve been looking extra frumpy and been avoiding me like the fucking plague. I just thought you were shaquing up with someone and not telling me.”

Libertad laughs again, “Oh my god. You’re such a jerk!” She had missed talking with Miriam.

“I’m just calling them like I see them. So you gonna tell me what’s up?”

Libertad feels her entire body freeze. Miriam is giving her an opportunity to open up and tell her everything that’s been going on but she can’t bring herself to say anything. Libertad can see that Miriam grows impatient.

“Fine, don’t say shit to me. Whatever. Do you. Just know that there are people that really care for you, bitch. You aint out here alone. You’re not an army of one. That’s all I’m say.”

Libertad gives her a small smile. She’s relieved she doesn’t have to say anything but is now afraid she might have missed her window.

Miriam looks at her notes, “Let’s see what we got to do for tomorrow.”

Libertad nods and looks through her to do list.

“Okay, one last thing.”

Libertad rolls her eyes. She knew it was too easy. Miriam doesn’t give up until she wins.

“Nah, don’t give me that look. I need to say this. We got two more years in this bitch and we ain’t gonna make it if we can’t count on one another. Ok, now I’m done.”

Libertad laughs, “You are too damn much! But fine. Yes, I’ve been working through something and I just don’t even know how to say.”

“Bitch, just say it.”

“Oh my god, Miriam. Stop calling me that.”

Miriam rolls her eyes and in her best British accent says, “Baby darling, please proceed with haste.”

Libertad laughs. She takes a deep sigh and closes her eyes. “I have depression.” She opens her eyes and waits for Miriam to react.

Miriam waits for her to say more.

Libertad is confused, “That’s it. I have depression. I went to the counseling center and they said I have clinical depression and gave me meds.”

“That’s it?” Miriam scoffs.

“What do you mean that’s it?” Libertad crosses her arms.

“Don’t get me wrong but I thought it was like something way worse. Like, girl, I don’t even know. I just thought it was way worse. Is that why you’ve been avoiding me?”

“Well, I’ve been avoiding everyone. I don’t even know what it means and I don’t even know how to tell people. I don’t want people to treat me weird.” Libertad’s voice breaks and she starts to cry.

Miriam goes to her and gently rubs her back, “It’s alright, boo. Let it all out.”

Libertad wipes her face, “I just, like, I don’t even know. I feel so heavy all the time. Like, I’m legit disappointed when I open my eyes in the morning because I don’t want to be awake. I just want to cry all the time. And, it’s not even like all of a sudden but I feel like this has been my life forever.”

Miriam nods and scoots closer to Libertad.

“I don’t remember the last time I was for real happy. I feel lost and like I’m not me but like maybe this is who I am. You know? Like I maybe this is who I really am. A clinically depressed, angry bitch.” Libertad cries again. Her chest heaves. The tears drop onto her notebook. She wipes her nose with the sleeve from her sweater, “What if I don’t know how to be happy? What if I’ll never be happy?”

Miriam bit her bottom lip and rubbed her temple, “Ok, first of all, happiness is overrated. Second, can’t happiness look different to different people? Am I right? Like what makes me happy doesn’t have to make you happy. Right?”

“Yeah, I guess. But it’s all too much. I’m exhausted all time. Like living makes me tired, Miriam.”

“Wait, are you saying you don’t want to be alive?” Miriam looks worried.

Libertad hesitates. She doesn’t know how she feels but she knows that there’s a right and a wrong answer to Miriam’s question by the way Miriam has tightened her grip on her arm.

“No, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying it’s hard all the time.”

Libertad can see that Miriam is satisfied with her response. “Yeah, I bet. Look, I don’t know what to tell you. I should probably be going to therapy too, you know? But I do know that you’re not like some freak or something. No one’s gonna judge you. Plus, it’s your damn business. You aint gotta tell no one you don’t wanna tell.”

“You right.” Libertad feels calmer. Miriam always has a way of grounding her. And, even though she might’ve not been able to be completely honest it feels good to talk to her again.

Libertad doesn’t sleep much the night before the march. That morning the anxiety and the excitement are like waves crashing into one another making her nauseous. Libertad tries to fight the negative thoughts away but they overwhelm her. They zoom in her head faster and faster until she gets dizzy. She gets out of bed and uses her foot to move piles of clothes out her way. She grabs her backpack and takes out her bottle of pills. She goes into the kitchen for a glass of water. Her phone buzzed.

Where you at cabrona?

On my way, she replies.

Libertad takes the medication. She closes and her eyes and takes a deep breath. She puts on her white blazer and grabs her purse. She doesn’t live far from McKinney park so she walks.

As she gets closer she sees others wearing white shirts walking toward the park. At the park there are already dozens of people gathered. She sees the signs.

Si se puede!

Save DACA!

Save TPS!

La Lucha Sigue!

Tuck Frump

Migration is Beautiful

Fuck the Police

Undocumented Unafraid

Libertad wants to cry but this time the sensation is different. She doesn’t feel heavy or sad. She feel proud. She wants everyone there to be okay.

Miriam finds her and ties a red bandana around her left arm.

“We decided at the training that all the safety marshals and key people needed to stand out so yall wearing this. You ready?”

“Yeah, you?”

“Girl, we are expecting more than a thousand people to show up to this thing. It’s going to be beautiful.” Miriam smiles at her.

Libertad feels the power in the crowd. She wants to take this feeling with her forever.

Miriam hands her the megaphone. Libertad makes her way a top a small hill to announce they were going to start walking. She can’t see the end of the crowd. The park overflows with people waiting to march.

Libertad feels all of her doubts melt away. At that point, none of it matters. Not her family, not her depression, not her insecurities. At that moment she can just be. She is part of something bigger and wants to focus on that for a while.

Libertad yells into the speaker:

“What do we want?”

She waits for crowd to respond and thinks about what she wants.

 “Immigration reform” the crowd roars back.

“When do we want it?


Libertad walks down the main street feeling the strength of the crowd behind her.

 “What do we want?”

I want to feel happy, she thinks as the crowd chants louder than before. The people’s voices echo throughout the street. Those voices echo in her chest.  

© The Acentos Review 2018