Knock, Knock by Melissa Manuel

“Mommy I’m scared.” I hid under my blanket peeking my head out my eyes darting between the door and Mommy’s face. But Mommy was never scared, she gave me one of her Super Smiles and pulled the blanket away from my chin.

“It’s okay to be scared. But be scared with your whole face.” I nodded slowly sticking my chin up, trying to be more brave like Mommy.

“I don’t want to be scared anymore.” I felt that wobbly feeling in my throat that I knew always made me cry. I didn’t want to cry in front of Mommy again.

Mommy leaned forward kissing me on the forehead smoothing my hair back like she always did. She grabbed my favorite toy, Señor Billy, a stuffed frog Mommy gave me for my fifth birthday, and tucked him in next to me.

“You never have to stop being scared mijo, just pretend not to be.” I nodded my head quickly as if I understood what she said. When she stood up she closed the closet door and then went to the door of my room and told me.

“No matter how many times you hear the knocking don’t open the door. Remember: pretend not to be afraid.”



There are countless things that make being a mother the most challenging task I’ve ever undertaken. But I made it much more difficult when I decided to be a single mother, and come to the States.
I had been trying to get a student visa for months and months, but nothing was coming through and even with three jobs it was getting harder to pay for the process. The decision to come illegally came as soon as I found out I was pregnant.



I woke up when the first knock came. Hugging Señor Billy to me I squeezed my eyes tight trying not to be scared. But the knocks came louder and faster. So did my heart beat.

Listening to Mommy’s footsteps I want to jump out of bed and run into her arms, but she had told me to stay. Don’t open the door.


It was hard being a single pregnant women in Nicaragua, and even more so in America. It must be hard around the world. Nobody seems to care that I didn’t have a say in the matter, but I would not blame the child in my womb for the sin committed upon me.

This child would be my whole world and I’d give it all up for them.



The men’s voices were loud and cold. They said Mommy’s name wrong and slammed their fists on our door. Finally I heard the locks be slid out of place and now my tears really started to pool in my eyes.

I am so scared.

The door creaks open and the voices are louder and colder. Mommy’s voice is soft and warm like her hugs. I start to sit up in my bed but then the door is closed again.

I can’t hear Mommy anymore, but the men’s voices make me even more scared.



In America if you find the right neighborhood it’s like you are still back home in Latin America. The neighborhood I stumbled into welcomed me with relatively open arms. An old woman took care of me and my child to be, feeding and aiding us in this new world.

Eventually I had found some semblance of peace and stability, my beautiful baby was born and I could feed and raise this child in safety.

I remember the exact moment I felt the safety disappear, when I turned my head down looking at my sleeping child and know that when they woke up there would be no good story to tell.




When the voices were gone, I finally crept out of my bed and dragged  Señor Billy behind me. I stood on my tiptoes and looked out the window.

The men were gone.

But so was Mommy.


One thought on “Knock, Knock by Melissa Manuel”

  1. Wonderfully rich in detail, yet sparse, precise and clean. the CL Diction was genuine and plausible. love this MM. Let’s share it in class. sadly, topical and important now. the insanity of this administration makes me want to stand tall and shout “first they came for the Muslims and Latinos and i said : Not today futhermuckers! ( saw this written on a sign at RDU … actually a picture of it sent by my sister) 🙂 thank Melissa enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

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