6 0 6

The Depressed Waitress

Her eyes move quickly across the room, though, she hardly looks up, from the coffee cups, the billfolds, the floorboards she treads from the counter to my table. Her arms are thin, her elbows and fingers raw with eczema. She wears a pinafore with sneakers. She is beautiful in sneakers. If she speaks one foot will hide behind the other, like an infant behind a mother. Her nails are black and her hair is ash and carbon. She bites her bottom lip when she is thinking. She smells the bag of coffee beans when she thinks no one is looking. Her stockings are always black. Her makeup is always thin and wispy. And her freckles, thankfully, she never manages to hide them. Her hands are worried. Her shoulders are heavy. Her voice is hushed and running through long grass. What are you reading today? she always asks. I smile and show her the cover. One foot hides behind the other. Who reads Hermann Hesse? she asks. Someone wanting to impress, let's say, girls with Latin tattooed on their wrist. A laugh escapes her petite anatomy, sudden like a firecracker.

4 0 4

The Virgin

I feel a wanting in the strangest parts of myself now. If I am left alone it grows. I stroke my wrist against my check. The arch of my foot I rub along the back of my leg. The webs of my fingers I pull up and through the hair at the back of my neck. My outside, my edges, has become magnetized to touch. When I was little I never felt this, and it scares me now. My body wants to feel itself. It tells me things. It asks. It begs. Rebecca, take our clothes off, lay down in the forest, naked in the wet, dead leaves. Let us feel what the humid air does to our skin. Rub the leaves over our breasts.

He sits with the boys at the shaded end of the field. They burn piles of sun burnt grass with matches. It is hot in the gloomy sunlight. A film of sweat gathers along my spine. It is sticky in the folds of my knees. He doesn't ever look my way; playing with fire. I wish we were swimming. I wish he would find me before the bell rings and sneak us out of school and take me to the river. We would swim in our underwear. We would be pulled together in the rapids. We would lay together on the hot riverbed stones and our skin would dry and I would touch the delicate furrow of his philtrum above his paper thin lips. I would tell him how the angels pressed that groove before he was born and he forgot what it was to be a soul.

In the mornings my body is clammy with dream melt and wanting. Echoes of the desires I ran with through the night whisper from behind my bedroom curtains. Touch us, Rebecca. Use your fingers. Feel the cotton. Moan quietly into the pillows so your mother and father can't hear you.

The long grass feels like an invisible cloak. I lay down in it and I am gone from the world of things and people. There is only myself and the vertigo sky. There is only the grass and gravity. There is only my wanting; wanting to be touched. Touched by myself. Touched by him. I have become dizzy and unravelled by my own skin. It calls out to the elements and the boys with scraped knees and sunburn. Touched by him. Rebecca, touch your stomach. Feel us inside there, wrought and frantic. Our skin is like peach fur, it wants to be eaten. It wants to be swallowed deep into the salt of this world. 

7 0 7

No Wonder [novel excerpt]

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2 0 2

No sleep

Sleep has eluded me, or maybe I’ve been running from it. Running from its clutches like a deranged man on a cocaine binge. You see, about a month ago I had my last episode. I was on the computer and I started seeing halos of light through my right eye. I already knew what was going to happen. It had happened to me 3 weeks prior and about a month before that. The 2 first times I shoved the middle finger down my throat, my knuckles playing hackie sac with my tonsils. I gagged, pulled out and shoved it back in. I felt like a whore and then all my insides came out. The first time they splattered in my sink, the second I ruined a perfectly manicured lawn.

So, the third time I was already aware of the steps. First the halos, continued by a mild eye ache, followed by a mild headache, which would rapidly evolve into a throbbing, menacingly eye and headache. Then the nausea would set in and finally the needing to purge. So it happened. It was the third time. The first time I thought it was because of the hookah, that shit was strong. The second time I didn’t give it much thought. The third time I knew was no coincidence any longer.

I googled the symptoms. The number one possibility on all sites was glaucoma. I went to a doctor about 5 minutes away from my house in car that same day and told them what happened. They said they couldn’t do anything because the episode had passed. I don’t know how Dominican doctors get their licenses. I went to an international center. They did some eye exams with high pressured light straight into my eye. I could hardly endure it.

She came back with the results for more tests. She said I have an enlarged optic nerve, which could mean glaucoma. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness. Glaucoma has no cure.

I don’t want to go to sleep. I’m afraid of waking up blind and never seeing anything ever again.

2 0 2

The Sandwich Story

It was the middle of the day and the sun was beating down through the trees in the park where Kathryn Howard was sitting. She was reading on one of the stone benches, an escape that she’d created for herself during the busy work day. She leaned up against the strategically placed tree behind the bench and flipped a page in her book. She always came out here during lunch on the nice days, because the park was right outside the school where she worked as a teacher. It was her “hour of Zen” as she liked to call it. Today she was engrossed in one of her favorite Agatha Christie books. There was a light breeze, and she had to repeatedly tuck strands of her long brown hair behind her ears as she read. And as Jeremiah Callaghan watched her from across the park, he’d never seen such a beautiful sight.

It wasn’t often that he had the time to get away to meet her for lunch and he always made it a surprise. It was better not to get Kate’s hopes up because he always wanted to make her happy, not to disappoint her. Today he’d brought sandwiches from her favorite deli and a large blanket for them to lie out on for the limited time they had together. She was so distracted by her book that Jeremiah was sure that he’d be able to sneak right up behind her. He circled around behind the stone bench that she was sitting on and set down their lunch, spreading out the blanket in the sun. In typical Kate fashion, she was completely oblivious to what was going on around her while she was buried in her book. When everything was set up, Jeremiah plopped down on the bench next to her and snatched the book from her hands.

“Oh!” Kate exclaimed, jumping in alarm. She turned to her book-thief and a smile broke out across her face. “Jeremiah! You startled me!”

Her smile was infectious, and Jeremiah couldn’t help but grin back at her. “Hello, Katie-girl. Care to join me for lunch?” He motioned to the blanket spread out just beyond the tree as he spoke.

“Do you have to ask?” she responded, rolling her eyes at him and leaning forward and kissing him on the cheek as she stood up. “What did you bring me?”

Jeremiah sprawled out on the blanket, leaning back on his arms and motioning for her to settle between his legs and against his chest. He took up practically all of the room since he was well over six feet tall and broad-shouldered. Somehow they fit together perfectly. “Your favorite,” he answered, sliding arm around her and dropping the bag of sandwiches in her lap, “roasted chicken and all of those veggies you know I hate. I think you get them just so I won’t eat your leftover sandwiches.” He made a face at the thought.

Kate laughed softly, pulling out her sandwich and handing him his typical roast beef and cheddar. “I confess. You’ve figured me out.”

Jeremiah dug into his sandwich with the appetite of a starving man whose food might be taken away at any moment, while Kate took small dainty bites of hers and wiped her mouth with a napkin after each bite. After he was done inhaling his sandwich, he wrapped Kate up in his arms and breathed in the scent of her hair. “That…was an amazing sandwich,” he stated with certainty.

“Did you…even taste that sandwich?” Kate asked, turning her head to look at him with incredulity. “I think it took you less than three minutes to eat it!”

“Don’t question my sandwich eating skills, woman. At least I don’t take an eternity to eat every bite.”

She rolled her eyes at him and took another bite of her sandwich, making sure to take an extra-long time to finish it just to spite him. “At least I know what food tastes like.”

“Hey, I know what food tastes like!”

“Do you even remember what kind of sandwich you had? It’s been a few seconds.”

“Maybe you should kiss me and then remind me of what I had.”


Her sandwich lay in her lap, practically forgotten as they kissed softly for several seconds. Jeremiah lifted a hand and brushed her hair back behind her ear once again, a soft chuckle escaping him as the strands simply refused to stay tucked there. “It’s good that I love you,” he began, hugging her tightly to himself once more, “because otherwise I wouldn’t put up with this kind of sandwich-eating abuse.”

Kate giggled at him. “Just to remind you, you ate a roast beef and cheddar sandwich.”

“I’ll never win with you, will I?”

“Oh, darling, you already won with me when you asked me to marry you.”

“I remember I had a wonderful sandwich that day. Roast beef and cheddar.” 

4 0 4

Winter Came Early This Year

A letter to my younger self, never mind actually, I’ve heard that the time traveling postal service sucks. A visit to my younger self, she needs it. First, let me hold you, and kiss your forehead. You need to learn that touch does not always equal pain, it’s going to take many years before you learn that, but I think out of everything I’m about to tell you this will help the most. Do you think we’re beautiful? Don’t answer that. It’s a question you’re going to spend the rest of our life up until this point trying to figure out. Please, even if you don’t always feel whole, don’t carve the word, “fat,” into your thigh on a desperate night when you’re alone in the bathtub. You will regret it.

This thought does not horrify you because at this point you’ve already bludgeoned our head with a hairbrush, tried to asphyxiate us, and pinched our own skin until we’ve been bruised. Don’t hurt us darling, there are already enough people doing that. In regards to the man who gave you a swollen cheek and shattered trust, you will become angry instead of scared one day and things will change, not necessarily for the better, but at least the physical pain will stop. I’m not going to tell you about our future love life, because you’re going to make mistakes whether I tell you or not, that’s life, but I will tell you not to focus on one boy so much. He’s still going to be one of your best friends, but he does not love you in that way, and that’s OK.

Trust me, there will be others. Do not leave the boy who gave you his jacket. You will regret that decision until this point, after this point, I am not sure. I may be from the future, but I am not from all of it. When you feel scared, touch something around you, reestablish your surroundings. This is a coping mechanism, you won’t learn about those for years to come. Stay strong, you’ll survive, trust me.

7 0 7

Words about H

     Was this coming or going? Selling yourself short, is a good way to keep tall orders out of hand.

     We were just a few simple thoughts, kept from the ceilings of a church where we once stood, our eyes bigger than the gold that hits them and touching you was the closest I’ve ever felt to God.

     But it wasn’t an approval I was looking for, and so I marked a number one next to my name and stared at you while the sun went down, eating ice cream, keeping the gulls from between our toes.

     “Careful,” you said, “another one of these and they will swarm.” We laughed and I remember how your eyes looked so clear, like you’d never seen the ocean.

     It was easy to walk along the sand, salt water making my throat dry. Lighthouses kept the boats clear from the rocks and waves never sounded so quiet, your voice keeping me along the shores of another expectation.

     “What do you want to do?”
     It was an honest question, and at that point in my life I got it a lot, so lying was easiest. I told you that I wanted to live a simple life close to an ocean.
     You laughed and covered your mouth. “Will it?”
     “I don’t know. Ever feel like you need a change from normality?”
     You looked down and half-smiled.

     Something tickled your guts and it only took a few months before I was donating the clothes you left at my house to the Salvation Army.

     I wonder if the gulls ever miss our feet.

7 1 6

Beneath their beautiful eyes

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9 0 9

The Purple House


Eros came out of heaven,

dressed in a purple cape



My house drives like a big purple Valiant with the suspension of a kids’ jumping castle. Floating is not an issue. We go many miles but move not an inch. I am sitting at my desk, typing. Deanna sits on the couch behind me, facing the other way, listening to music. The child in her belly is mine; this is supposedly a fact. But I'm in no way certain that it is. It’s not an issue of infidelity. No. It’s just a novel event, defying assimilation.

     There is no way to broach this appropriately... 

     …Even if I wanted to, which I don’t…

     The house seems to hit a few potholes. The ride is still pretty smooth and easy to take in. The walls are beige. The curtains are a different shade of beige. We've not hung much from the walls as yet, but there is one painting that sits directly in front of my desk. It's an abstract, and it conjures, for me, what the sight of a torn mind might look like, like a skull busted or shot open—blasted, blood-mottled black hair and splattered brain, lashes of dark universe and a spot of brilliant light, like the victim was killed at the very moment of conceiving the thought which might’ve saved the world. Dashed by unfortunate timing.


      'I'm going to the corner shop, do you want anything?' Deanna asks, suddenly appearing by my side and bumping her pregnant belly into me. I look up, she's smiling angelically, on the precipice of a laugh; the half-eclipsed ceiling light haloing her beautiful face. Thoughts and a feeling of bravado toward saving the world come to me, now, then rush away again in an instant, into the purple mood of the house.


      ‘No, I’m fine,’ I say. She leans in to kiss me. The house suddenly hits freeway. We are driving on clouds suspended on packets of air. I’m spinning my marshmallow wheels, accelerating. 

7 0 7

A Toast for Your Wedding

the two of you make me want to believe in love. you’ve told me how you make each other feel, and by god, that’s great, but hearing it is one thing. i want to feel it. i want to believe it. i need to believe it.

i want to be believe that people are able to love despite distance and appearances and every other petty thing that comes in the way of really, truly knowing and appreciating someone. i want to believe that love transcends all boundaries and is an all-encompassing, unapologetic force that wrecks cities and moves mountains and shakes the ground. i want proof, proof that love is a natural disaster separating the earth beneath our feet. i can’t possibly know or believe or sing the praises of love without that. i need to be able to stand up passionately and push over chairs in a fit of rage in the middle of a dinner party because other people just don’t understand what i’m talking about.

love has never been all-consuming with or for me. i’ve never wanted to spend the rest of my life with someone because i felt like i would perish the instant they left my side. i’ve never needed to hear someone’s voice to know that somehow, the world was still turning. i’ve never relied on anyone else for comfort in my darkest hours that i could not provide to myself.

all i’ve known of love is the fleeting moments, like waking up before the person lying next to you does and feeling that quivering smile creep up your face because god damn, they are beautiful. like kissing the eyelashes of someone who you’ve just met, although you swear you could ghostwrite their entire life biography because the way they look at you through those eyelashes is something that only you can dictate. like running your fingertips along the bare skin of your lover, tracing out words and promises you wish you could keep, knowing that they’ll never be able to translate your touch.

i imagine that in those moments i’m falling in love, i’m feeling love, i’m knowing what love is and what its favorite color is and how it likes its eggs and if it will like it better if i wear the floral skirt or the jeans that make my body look like it’s good enough to be eaten breakfast off of. those moments fade quickly, too quickly, and i’m left again with just the uncontrollable want that no person or thing has ever managed to suffice.

in my experience, love is the most beautiful person at the party, the same person who kept its lips closed when i introduced myself. i found love alone in a darkened room, moonlight illuminating its profile. so many times i tried to initiate a conversation. i bought this dress because i heard that you adore the color, love. or hey love, did you hear that so and so is playing at the so and so because i know you’re into their last album. despite my attempts, love turned on its heel and walked through the doorway toward a larger concentration of people. at the most, i’ve overheard it’s hushed whisper with another person in another room, where i can hear it’s voice but not the words. i just want to stand on top of the catering table, one foot on the hors d’oeuvres and the other in the punch bowl, and scream i shaved my legs for you, love! why won’t you notice me? yet, when i gaze longingly at love across the room with my back against the wall, we make eye contact. love stares me for a moment and finally acknowledges my presence with the slightest start of a smile before walking out the front door, its hand interlaced with another.

i want nothing more than to believe you when you say that love is an earthquake strong enough to end a european empire, but i’m sitting alone on a beach in california, mistaking the aftershock for grains of sand rumbling beneath my feet.

please never stop feeling the tremors. please never ever let love leave the party with someone who will never call it back or appreciate it or make it soup and sandwiches when its sick and watch terrible movies you can’t stand but you watch anyway because love wants to. please, for me, for all of us, hold on to that.