Ana awoke as she felt the van rumble to a halt. Her life since leaving the mountains of West Virginia had been intolerable. They’d long-since swapped the silver pick-up for a navy blue mini-van, into which she’d been thrown, hog-tied and gagged, hidden beneath a dirty, woolen blanket.
During the days that followed, she’d lost all sense of time. She was no longer permitted to use the bathroom. Instead, she was forced to wear adult diapers, which her captors changed only twice each day. It was a humiliating process, but one that afforded her brief glimpses of her surroundings. Now, she could hear Enrique pull the key from the ignition and open the driver’s side door. He was coming around to the back, she knew, to change her diaper, and maybe even give her some food or water.
The van’s back door swung open and the bright light stung her eyes. She blinked several times, desperate to adjust them to the light before the door swung shut again.
Enrique pulled the gag off and she felt cool water on her lips. She tried to swallow, but could not. Her mouth and throat were painfully dry and refused, at first, to function.
“What the fuck? I give you water and you let it spill all over the place?” he complained.
She tried to speak, to make him understand, but she could not. She caught sight of a sign for the Little Rock Farmer’s Market. The sight of it brought tears to her eyes. She understood what it meant, and the realization sent fresh panic through what was left of her mind.
“You’re taking me…” she croaked.
“What?” Enrique said. “I can’t hear you.” He tossed the used diaper aside and pulled out a new one.
“El Paso,” she said in a hoarse whisper. “We’re headed toward El Paso.”
He smiled. “That’s right.”
“Ciudad Juarez,” she said.
He smiled again. “Where’d you think we were going? Back to that dung heap you call home? Think I’d deliver you safely back to your own people? How fucking stupid do you think I am? We’re going to see my people. I’m in charge now, got it?” He pulled duct tape from a nearby roll and slapped it painfully across her mouth. He smiled his gloating grin one last time, before slamming the doors shut.
Ana imagined Steve, moving on with his life. Would they ever find her, she wondered, or any part of her? Would he ever know what really happened?