Before I let you read my short story, I just want to say thank you. Yes, you, dear reader (and dear interns because you count as readers too). Writing on a blog every week has been a blessing in disguise; I was able to channel my emotions in different ways and meet incredible, talented people whose writing amazes me every week. So, I have put in a list my favorite posts of the whole semester, one from each of the writers. I invite you to reread them and rejoice (I certainly have).
Alex: because as soon as I read "croissant" and "Cafe Rivera" on the same page I was like THIS GIRL KNOWS ME. And little did I know that it would become a ritual of ours to go there every Saturday morning to talk
Anna: I must admit, when I read this piece the first time I hated you a little bit because I had to do a lot of homework but as soon as I read it I was like, this is it, I am just gonna watch this documentary because that is way more important than anything else right now. I like your way of compelling the reader into looking at things in a different way by how rich and introspective your writing is.
Cat: because through describing your love for Alice in Wonderland you told us so much about yourself as a little girl. You have the perfect balance of funny and heartfelt anecdotes which makes your writing very unique and very visual.
Chanté: I was stuck between this amazing poem or your first blog post on Judge Judy and decided on this one because this poem is the perfect combination of your pop culture knowledge and your sensitivity and reading it just left me awe-struck.
Christian: UGH. I was between this one and your last post on videogames because you put a whole new light on my idea of what a video game is but then I decided on this one because it felt like a 2 for 1 kind of deal because you link your own story and in this post you explain your title for it. I just love that in one piece you were able to teach us not only a new word, but such a beautiful word at that. And I love the idea of embracing your own imperfections.
Courtney: because I thought this short story was written in such an inventive manner and I loved how the narrator is so present in the story and never lets the reader forget its role as a narrator. And the fact that you wrote it as it happens in your mind makes it even more raw and more beautiful and you left me speechless.
Lisa: because YOU CAN poem. You do it in the way that you write, intertwined with the books that you read and the sights that you see. Reading this piece was like a journey and it made me fall in love with the little things that we find in our way.
Luis: because you've told this story in such a beautiful way and you have honored an important person in your life. While the story was heartbreaking, it also showed your amazing, inspiring resilience and I admired so much how you opened your heart.
Maggie: because this poem was like a needle through the heart (PUN INTENDED). You have such an exquisite and delicate way of writing. Your style is so unique, I can immediately tell it's your writing even before I read who wrote it.
Renée: because I thought this was an excerpt from the book you are writing and I got so excited but then you told me it wasn't and it made me want to READ YOUR BOOK EVEN MORE and I was amazed in your ability to produce such an intriguing and magnificent short story (or truths disguised in fiction).
Well, there ya have it, my favorite pieces of the semester. I KNOW, I AM PRACTICALLY IN LOVE WITH ALL OF YOU. And quite obsessed and speechless, if I do say so myself. I guess, what I'm trying to say is that I am glad that I get to write, but I am even more gladder (?) that I get to read. I'm gonna miss all of you.
And now, I present to you "Don Nada," a short story I wrote in one of my classes:
The day Don Ricardo said goodbye to his daughter Ana María Gris Gutiérrez — who was departing across the seas, over several miles of cultures and traditions, to the end of the world, right before Antarctica but right next to the penguins, to a city named Fuego but known for its brutal blizzards — he already knew he would be forgotten.
He had said, after all, in the pains of parting: I am your father, I will never be the same without you. He had said that, hadn’t he, when he hugged her and tears landed on her left shoulder, soaking her with sorrow. But at that moment, Ana María was ten and she thought that her father’s words were just a saying — she never thought he meant it literally. She never thought that as soon as she landed on the new city, her father as she knew him had changed forever.
Only now, as an adult, did Ana María remember her father’s parting words. I am your father, I will never be the same without you. Now, when she was far away from Tierra del Fuego, yet still very far away from him — even though they were standing in the same room. As she looked into his eyes, she realized she had forgotten the man he used to be. She couldn't believe that the lump of bueno para nada that was standing in front of her had once been a different man.
When Ana María came back to her father’s town at the age of sixteen, there was plenty to do but no one to take her. Instead of enjoying the warm salty ocean or laying lazily on the sand — perfecting her tan like all the gente bonita were doing — or getting sand encrusted in her butt cheeks, knees and the in-between of her toes while building castles on the beach, Ana María spent her time cooped up in a tiny apartment: folding laundry and watching telenovelas so she and her new stepmom could bond. Ana María did not care much for the telenovelas. Still, she would cry at the appropriate moments, bite her nails when things got tense and feigned a ¡Dios me libre! when the character you thought had died, miraculously came back to life. She put on a big spectacle, all so that her stepmom would be satisfied, but no bonding ever happened. All Ana María wanted was to spend time with her father, but all she could hear from him was the click-click-click-ding! of the typewriter.
The first time she saw it happen she was so surprised her whole body tensed and she couldn’t breathe. She had always seen her father drinking, but never had she seen him drunk: he lied at the edge of the bed in his boxer shorts spilling red wine on the white sheets and spitting pieces of undercooked burger while yelling barbaridades to no one in particular. It was hard to say if he was laughing or crying. Either way, the hollow of his eyes made him look distorted, eerie, as if no flesh or soul was even inside him. And in one instant, Ana María grew afraid of him.
The last time she called him his voice sounded garbled and distant. She could tell that on the other end of the line was a shell of a man, un Don Nada. Ana María congratulated him on his new marriage to Angustias but all he could say was, what do you want. Pues, nada i just wanted to see how you were. What do you want. Nada, father. Putamadre, just tell me what you want! I want the father I can’t remember! To this Don Nada started laughing. At first it was a low giggle. But slowly it started getting speed in its tremulous manner: each giggle rasping the back of his throat and then exploding in a cackle as soon as it reached his vocal chords, leaving an echo of wicked coughs. And as he tried breathing in you could faintly hear, he’s gone, carajo, he's gone.