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In the

Estados Unidos de América

, Mamá says, the women wear red rouge

on their cheeks, and drape themselves in extravagant materials. The

streets are unsullied by dirt or waste, rather, they gleam, spotless

under the light of the


. It’s noisy alright, she laughs, but the sounds

of the big city come together to form an astonishing harmony of taxi

horns, flashing cameras and sociable chatter. Everything is bigger,

brighter! Buildings grow towards the sky, she proclaims, energetically

raising her arms up toward the cerulean sheet which is dotted with

tiny, iridescent diamonds – she smiles and lets her eyes close in

euphoric reminiscence, sighing,


. I sit patiently, legs crossed,

longing for her to continue with this fantastical recollection of a

dream. She opens her eyes nearly unwillingly – as if entranced –

edges herself closer tome and gently pulls me onto her lap – the sand

from the bottom of my


falling upon her coffee-coloured legs.

She smells familiar – like Pears soap and paella. We stare out to sea,

waiting for Eduardo. One day,

mi amor

, she whispers, brushing the

rogue curls away from my face, one day. I unwind her arms from

around my waist and stand up. I start to spin. Spinning so the sky

twirls like when you mix


with a straw. Even after I stop

spiralling the sky keeps going. Mamá laughed. I fell to the ground.

If you head away from the industrialised city centre – away from

where South America meets the North – and take a right turn on

Corredeur Sur, you will find a diminished coastal community. Small,

fragmented houses line the ascending dirt road – makeshift tin

roofs producing intolerable heat inside during our tropical season.

The lone, dirt street is littered with russet whiskey bottles and

flattened cardboard boxes. Plastic bags crunch as they flap in the

breeze like national flags – caught in the Alfajía trees. A single

shopping trolley is parked at the top of the hill – a form of

entertainment for the children alongside an ancient, discarded sofa

that is placed purposefully in order for the adults to watch their

children fly down the hill, only to end up in a giggling heap after

toppling into the sand pile. From my house you can hear the waves

breaking from the Gulf of Panama – the ocean dispersing all of its

debris from faraway places, along our abandoned coastline. Last year,

Miguel and I found a body there. I told Padre we should call the


but he chided me and told me that it had probably drifted

from the Américas anyway, and it wasn’t our cross to bear. He

reacted the same way when Eduardo never came home from work,

La Frontera

Annabel Rodway

Future Leader’s

Writing Prize