fiction 2019 / spring 2019 / volume 49

Leo Flores—Luke Reynolds

LEO FLORES doesn’t want to be thinking about his ex-boyfriend, but the memories keep taunting him, and they make him want to gouge his eyes out, leave them bloody and glazed over in the palm of his hand: sneaking out during a school assembly to wreak havoc in the rain, smashing puddles beneath their feet and kissing as water fell onto their cheeks like tears, watching Star Trek and his ex geeking out over Spock and confessing he had always wanted him to end up with Kirk, studying in the school library that turned into holding a book over their faces and kissing underneath the pages, having dinner at his ex’s house, his parents asking their son “May you please pass the peas?” and asking Leo “¿Habla inglés?” in those shitty “I was in Spanish for four years in high school and therefore I can speak it” accents, receiving rhetorical questions from the morons his ex hung out with about doing drugs since that was supposed to be part of his hustle, noticing the stares he and his ex received that burned into him and made him glare back, challenged them to say something, anything—and during all of that, his ex’s mouth was sealed shut, an envelope ready to be sent, and Leo wanted to shake him (he still wants to shake him) because he knew what this meant; it pushed him into a gaping black hole that swallowed him whole, got rid of happy memory after happy memory—so it didn’t come as much of a surprise when Leo’s ex took him out to dinner at a restaurant where the napkins were ironed and the chandeliers’ lights bounced off each glass surface and said “I think we should break up” over a chocolate molten lava cake; even though he danced around the reason behind it, Leo knew (and still knows) that it was because of the color of his skin; brown and white couldn’t mix in this town, not according to every single white person that looked at them like they were wanted criminals; so all Leo has left to do is cup horchata, smooth and cold and dusting his fingers with cinnamon, and chew on a chocolate chip cookie from the bakery his sister works at because it’s not like he wants to remember; he doesn’t want to even think about his ex—but knowing that he’s seeing someone else whose skin matches his that smiles like a hyena who’s caught their dinner brings him back, leaving the creamy horchata and cookie chunks to sit in his throat, leave him to choke.

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