Excerpt from "Lucid," an unpublished magic surrealism short story of a young woman coming to terms with the troubles of generational trauma and grief.

Anaís sat with her grandmother underneath their mango tree and asked why she could see people who were not truly there. 

“We hear the songs of the dead, mi amor. We see their dances and help them when they need help.” 

“Does my papa need help?” 

The dark green leaves of the tree above them swayed in the air, and Anaís felt some of the dried up mango flowers that were unable to grow fall onto her shoulders and hair. 

“I don’t think so. Sometimes, the ones that love us remain with us after they die. They want to keep taking care of us.”

“Does mama see him too?”

Her grandmother sighed, readjusted the long, patterned skirt splayed out on the grass beside her, and shook her head. 

“No, mijita.  Women in our family are born with death, but sometimes, they are born without the gift. My mother’s mother could not see the dead, and neither can yours.”

“But I can.”

Anaís’ grandmother nodded. She scooted closer to her grandmother and slipped an arm around her waist to hold her closer. 

“Be patient with your mother. If she appears angry with you, it’s misplaced. When her father passed, she was upset with me as well.” 

Anaís brushed off some of the pollen from the fallen flower buds from her shoulders and hair. 

“I didn’t ask to see them. The kids at school think I’m weird. I can see people around them sometimes so I look, but mostly I’m afraid.” 

“You’ll stop being afraid one day, mi amor.

Eventually, Anaís was no longer afraid. Instead, she was sad. 

◆    ◆    ◆

Excerpt from "Coming to Be," an unpublished fiction short story presenting the life of a latinx, queer narrator through brief mentions of scattered memories. 

“Your hair is so puffy.” 

I look next to me and see an eighth-grade girl smiling at me. Her hair is light brown and straight, pooling around her shoulders. There is something wrong with her smile, a certain tilt to her head that deems me prey. 

“I guess,” I say. 

“Why don’t you iron it? You’d look nicer.” 

I raise a hand to my hair and press my fingers into my ponytail. My mother has told me that I was born with my father’s hair, and I think about the way he shaves his hair close to his scalp until it resembles more of a shadow than hair.

“I don’t really want to. It takes up too much time.”

The girl laughs sharply, I think her name is Karina. I look over past her shoulder and see her friends watching, similar smiles stretching their light-skinned faces.

“Maybe you should think about it, none of the boys will talk to you like this.”

My stomach feels heavy, and I look away from her and down to my plate. Lunch will last for another fifteen minutes, she’ll go back to her floor of the school then. 

“Or,” she says, drawing out the word, “do you not care about boys?” 

I know what she’s asking. It’s something I’ve asked myself when my mother mentions a classmate after a school event, mentions how cute he is. I take my tray and leave, and ignore the hyenas laughing on my way outside of the cafeteria. 

Later at home, I absentmindedly push the food on my plate around as my mother sits across from me, eyes glued to the television for her telenovela. One of the characters, the lead woman, has hair cut short by her the end of her ears. 

“Can I cut my hair?” 

My mother doesn’t look away from the woman crying over her dead husband on the screen, “Sure.”

I put my fork down, “I want it really short, like Tía.” 

My mother finally looks at me, and she’s frowning, “She has a boy’s haircut, she can do it because she’s femenina.”

“I can be girly too.” 

She laughs and it sounds like the girls from school. I want to tear my hair out so badly my hands quiver. 

Hija, girls with hair like yours can’t cut their hair like that.” 

◆    ◆    ◆

Excerpt from "Las Benditas," an unpublished YA, magic realism short story centered on two young girls learning about the past of their town, and the mystical creatures that come with it.

The dead could come back to life in San Jolén. 

Death was only a comma in the small town. It was a pause—a short breath held in until a witch, una malvada, banished it. Katarina Cruz was one of these witches, although she preferred to call herself their old name, una bendita, a blessed one. When she was five, Katarina had found a baby bird dead by a tree. Its mother was jittering around it, chirping loudly in a panic. She remembered crying, pressing her hand against its body, and asking for it to come back. Within moments, a tingle shot down Katarina’s arm and collected in her fingertips. She stopped crying when she felt it flutter against her, chirping in response to its mother. 

Although death was malleable to Katarina and the other witches in her town, they weren’t supposed to raise the dead in San Jolén. 

She was well aware of this as her hands touched her girlfriend’s cold, still chest. Her fingers were slowly shrouded in a black mist, the smoke flowing like a looped current around her hands. Katarina’s eyes were dry as she stared at Daniela’s chest, trying her best to avoid looking up at her face. She was so pale and so far away for only having been found two days ago. 

Her mother was inconsolable as she wailed to Katarina’s mother, who was urging Katarina to head back into their home. It had been an accident, Daniela slipping by one of the many rivers nearby and hitting her head hard before falling into the water. Katarina’s mother had begged her not to interfere, and part of her almost listened. Now she was shivering in a morgue, trying her best to find a trace of warmth in the frigid void Daniela had slipped away into. 

A sudden gasp pulled her out of her thoughts, and she looked up to see that Daniela’s eyes were open, staring up at the ceiling. The undead girl suddenly pushed herself up, holding onto Katarina’s shoulders for support. She watched as Daniela’s brown eyes were swallowed by white, and gulped. Death left none unmarked. 

Using Format