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"The Boys"

by Karina Mercedes Martinez

Dear Barca, 

I’ve been thinking… The things you know about me so far are the surface of an identity developing, like the pictures you took of the gulf storm. (I want to know more about how you  process in darkness). To be honest, I have not yet shared certain strange parts of my past that I hope to leave behind once we become better friends. Maybe you might get what it’s like to be from California because you too are intimately tethered to the beach, the sea, the night, the heat. But you do have the jungle, while I have the desert and drought. I have spacious two story isolation, auditory hallucinations, anxious rumination; Beautiful girls like us tend to do well in most places, and yet we do better to stay safe. 

I had a dream last night, and it made me afraid, or maybe it showed me what I’ve been fearing. Still, it’s hard to make sense of myself. Tell me if you hate dream talk, I’ll spare you the horror.  It’s a bizarre thing, opening eyes to fresh tears, skin of sweat, unable to move… for another few hours is what it felt like. 

I’m sorry about the weather there. I hope it’s better once you get this letter.  



Dearest Merce, 

No more rain! I’ll teach you film photography once you’re here. 

I’m interested in dreams, and I’ve been studying some symbology. Feel free to share.  See you soon, amiga.  

Stay good, 


Dear Barca,  

The dream is like this: I am playing guitar, singing and wishing my crush would care. Candles are lit, but lots of wind blows through the open window, so the shades lift and slam down hard on the pane, over and over again. Still, the candles burn so bright. It feels like I’m casting a spell. Flies land on the guitar, I crush them with my palm, their guts stretch like loogies between my fingers. It’s the middle of the night, but I can’t sleep. I lift my covers and there are spiders and other things crawling all over me. My cat bites herself like a dog infested with fleas. I escape to the shower, decide I'll sleep there if I have to, but there are boys in my vent. 

I can hear them, sense them, crowded in the dark above my ceiling, competing for a peek.  Though I want to believe I’m imagining things, I know exactly who’s there. Pairs of  squinting eyes with gelled down, shaggy, and spiky hair. The boys have arrived to watch and judge, shove each other and curse. The most terrible is their leader, the clown, like “IT” who peers up from the bathtub drain, the sink, the toilet.  

The boys are from school. A few of them I hate. I rush my shower, and all the while I listen to  them gossip and giggle through the grate. I hear Timothy say he would ask me on a date if it  weren't for my “monkey arms.” I hear Arnold say I might be gay. Ricky, who is gay, calls them  all idiots. “She’s smart, and funny, plus, look at that body.” Jacob snorts like a boar, “She’s  caught too many already.” I’m anguished by that one ‘cause I know what he means, and I hate the fact that it made them all laugh. 


The clown reminds me he’s always watching. Even back in my room, though the bugs are mostly  gone, the boys snicker under the sound of the AC. In my bed, I whisper up to the vent, “I don't care what they think, I don't care what they think.” For a minute, it seems like the boys are gone, but the silence and solitude leaves me empty. I hear myself asking them to come back. And just when I think I’m about to crack, I rouse to soaked cheeks and my room, full of daylight.  Everything is clean. I hear footsteps in the hallway, water running, mom and sister arguing something, clashing pans, so breakfast is coming, but when I try to get up it’s impossible to move. I am stuck to the bed, looking straight ahead. My arms are so heavy or not there at all. I imagine dragging myself off the side of the mattress like a paper slipping off the edge of a shelf  or a pen falling from a desk. Vivid for a moment, I snap right back to my statue state. I stay that way for a long time, in cycles, convinced that I’m moving, lifting my head, or calling out for help, when I’m not.


Kindly let me know what you think it means… 



Karina Mercedes Martinez is pursuing a master’s degree in advanced English studies at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. She majored in English, with an emphasis in creative writing at the University of California, Irvine. While her primary focus is on modern and postmodern texts, Mercedes writes about music, literature and cocktail culture in her Becoming Badass blog. “The Boys” is her first short story to be published; it plays with concepts which reoccur in much of her work: the subliminal and the phantasmagoric. 

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