The box was full of balloons the color of synthetic gloves, each one packed with cocaine. Maria picked one up, then realized they were all tied together, like a string of sausage. Someone cut one off for her. She inspected it, said she couldn’t swallow it, that it was too big. She was slapped in the face and told it was easy, that girls smaller than her have done it. She was told that by doing this, she would keep her mother and brother alive, that she would make lots of money. This gave her courage. She slid one into her mouth. Surprisingly, the balloon was easy to swallow, like a snake swallowing a mouse.
Maria was loaded into a van with ten other girls. They were driven across the border into Arizona. The girls all held hands and prayed. Suddenly, nausea set in and Maria’s chest tightened. She turned cold and began to perspire heavily. She squeezed the hand of the girl beside her and closed her eyes, thinking of her mother and little brother