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LA TORTILLERIA
by VAYLE LAFEHR
art by JENNIFER WANG

       From her motherly brown hands sweat slips off in teardrops, falling silently into the dough she rolls. She works indefatigably in a blazing August heat; one almost as repressive as her government. Her mental faculties succumb to a choking heat— intense enough to humiliate a human body and to shamelessly devour all remnants of cool air. The sheer temperature swallows the now impoverished part of her mind that once allowed her to recognize the meaning of the word ‘discomfort.’
       The warehouse around her rests in a gloom; it becomes her Sky and her Earth. It embodies her childhood, her current home, and her future. Her ribcage heaves slowly, her eyes are deep brown, almost black in the dim light, and they fix upon her brown hands. Her hips are pulled gently by the air, swaying to the hum of gears that churn out fresh dough.
       This woman’s hands, which knead and roll and knead again, are shackled by the white flour flowing sumptuously from its sac and onto her fingers. It flows so freely that it drowns those flimsy pieces of paper affording her the only living she can foresee—a
       paycheck-to-paycheck tomorrow. That next piece of paper contains a prescient whisper of broken children’s shoes and perhaps, for once, extra tortillas for dinner. And so, she kneads and rolls and her eyes do not wander any further than the next sac of flour to be used.
       Bleached flour rapes her nostrils. Fractured white patterns tattoo her skin. The chalky scent of oppression and monotony stains her hair.
       These are not the thoughts that swim through her mind as her shift continues; though they will begin when she sees the desperate eyes of her children that evening at dinner.
       Instead, this woman wonders if her son will be scorned at school for nail polish chipping on his worn nails. She worries for her daughter who might return home from the library with more bruises than books.
       But every roll and every knead, she intuits, will pull her closer to those children...and so she rolls on.

Art by Jennifer Wang

VAYLE LAFEHR was double majoring in Neuroscience and Philosophy, with an emphasis in law when she submitted this piece to Journal 2020. She grew up in Colorado where she fell in love with the outdoors. Vayle enjoys rock climbing, skiing, writing, and traveling.

JENNIFER WANG was a sophomore majoring in biochemistry when they submitted this piece to Journal 2020. This piece is a part of a homeless portraiture collection they drew when they was in high school, and is adapted from a photo by British photographer, Lee Jeffries. They do not believe this piece is religious, but simply representative of the power of hope in despair. This is a theme throughout most of their drawings, as it is a virtue of life they truly care about

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