A woman and her young daughter escape death in their home country, only to find themselves separated at the U.S. border in Steve Carr’s “Needle in a Haystack.”
“Needle in a Haystack” appears in The Golden Door, a collection of stories showing the impact on people when they’re treated as “the other,” whether they’re immigrants to a country, a group of targeted within their own country, or something else besides. The title refers to Emma Lazarus’s welcoming words inscribed on the plaque on Statue of Liberty, “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Tales of mistreatment of “the other” abound in historical or religious writings from around the world and through all time. But there are also plenty of examples of people helping each other, caring for one another, learning about each other. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes in small—but they all add up.
Find The Golden Door
Cristela held Lilian tightly in her arms as she scanned the inside of the warehouse. From inside, it seemed even larger than it appeared from the outside. The floors and walls were painted the same shade of light gray, the same color of the stones in the creek near the house where she had lived. Pale light streamed through a row of closed windows that ran along the walls just beneath the ceiling. Although the building was cool and air-conditioned, it was also full of unpleasant odors. Fluorescent lighting cast its harsh glow from fixtures in the ceiling. A maze of wire cages, like the ones outside, had been set up to house the women and their children. The din of echoing voices filled the warehouse.
Barely able to hear the questions that the uniformed woman behind the table was asking her, Cristela shrugged to many of them, and watched in silence as the woman filled out a form attached to a clipboard. After the woman said, “That’s all,” Cristela turned to Yanira who was standing behind her and shook her head, bewildered. She was led to a cage where Ana sat on a cot, her sleeping baby lying next to her. Five other women, none with children, were also in the cage. A uniformed woman shut and locked the cage door.
“What about my friend, Yanira?” Cristela asked the woman through the wire.
“This cell is full,” the woman said, and walked away.
—from “Needle in a Haystack” in The Golden Door by Steve Carr
About the Author
Steve Carr, who lives in Richmond, Virginia, has had over 360 short stories published internationally in print and online magazines, literary journals, reviews and anthologies since June, 2016. Five collections of his short stories, Sand, Rain, Heat, The Tales of Talker Knock and 50 Short Stories: The Very Best of Steve Carr, have been published. His paranormal/horror novel Redbird was released in November, 2019. His plays have been produced in several states in the U.S. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize twice.