This is the first draft of a story, “A Day In the Life of Fernando,” that I hope to polish up and eventually publish. I like to think of it as a sketch to get the ideas going. I’ll post the following chapter later this week. Enjoy!
It was 4am and Fernando woke up to the screeching sound of his alarm. He debated in his mind about getting up. He had stayed late studying, and he could feel his body yearning for rest. But it didn’t matter what he felt, he knew he had to go for a run. The ROTC semester test was coming up, and he wanted to be among the best. Still, he thought, there’s only so much the body can take, and he needed rest. A few seconds passed by, and Fernando could feel himself drifting back to sleep.
Not out of courage, but out of habit, he suddenly threw one leg over the bed. He brought the other one over and propped up. Sitting still, he swung between consciousness and sleep. Like a baby taking his first steps, he precariously moved one foot in front of the other towards the bathroom. He turned on up the sharp bathroom lights and washed his face with cold water. He looked himself in the mirror and was content with what he saw.
He was ready, and there was no going back. He put on his running shoes (he’s wore his workout clothes as pijamas), and finished a half-eaten banana from the fridge in his room. After a few bites, he took his iPhone and carefully tip-toed his way past his roommates, heading out into the streets of Los Angeles.
It was pitch dark, and the cool ocean breeze immediately struck his face. He remembered the comfort and warmth of his bed, but quickly dismissed it. It was no use to think about it any longer. He put on Bloomberg radio and sought to immerse himself in the 6 mile run ahead of him. The houses around him were suburban and small, but very expensive due to their close proximity to the college. Fernando didn’t have a car, and Los Angeles isn’t the most bike-friendly place, so he had to find a place nearby to attend his morning classes. He found his shared apartment on Craigslist, but the high price of rent did not give justice to the its dilapidated state.
As a Political Science graduate, Fernando thought he had a lot ahead of him. Born in San Salvador but raised up by his grandmother in San Antonio, it seemed like a different saint was now blessing him in his incredible climb of success in the U.S. His parents were killed in the gang violence that wrecked San Salvador in the 90s and 2000s. Fernando was therefore left alone in a dust-filled house with his grandmother in Texas. It was originally his parents’s house, their first in the US, from wherein they could start their lives anew in America.
His father, being a software programmer, was hired by a startup in San Antonio, who later found out that his hourly wage was cheaper than the weekly budget for dog food in the office. His mother was already a naturalized citizen from Mexico working as a housemaid for the wealthy oil men who had winter houses in the city. After his parent’s death, it was a climb against all odds that now, Fernando thought, could reach as high as the heart of D.C politics. His daily runs fueled his ambition, and kept him in shape for the upcoming ROTC physical that was coming up. Without the ROTC, there would be no way he could afford his education. To trade a few years of combat service for graduate studies was simple math that led to his current situation now: running at 4am in the sleepy, hallowed streets of L.A before work, before class, with no social life for him, in pursuit of a social justice for all.