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mi corazón quiere cantar así

did you hear about the shooting? my cousin jasmine texts. i tell her no, open up twitter to see if something’s trending. nada. she responds: they shot a girl in her home. she was my friend’s niece. the details: a ten-year-old, a drive-by, some gang shooting up the wrong house, speeding off after unloading, wanted by the cops. i tell jasmine that’s crazy, tragic. where was she hit? i ask, wondering if the girl died fast or slow. all on her side. the side of her head too. she passed on the way to the hospital. i imagine the little girl, one moment in the kitchen, grooving to selena’s bidi bidi bom bom, chewing bubble gum, searching for a night snack, & then, thunderclaps piercing doors & windows & skin: the little girl’s body exploding with black pot-holes, her blood & flesh flying out in fruity-pebbled chunks. she must have been disoriented, heart pounding in her ears—bidi! bidi! she probably didn’t even hear her parents screaming or feel her mother’s hands damning against all the leaking. her last sight must have been her mother’s face, zoo-eyed & blood soaked, cooing, you know i love you. you’re gonna be—& then the world & her heart landsliding into silence. a few minutes later, jasmine follows up with another text: i’m trying to write a poem for her parents, but i don’t know what to say. i give her a writing prompt i once read: pretend you’re a parent who lost a child. imagine what you’d want to hear. write that. i spend the rest of the day thinking, if i were that little girl’s mother or father, i wouldn’t want words, hugs, or photos i’d never seen— i’d want sound, to press my ear to my child’s chest & hear the rise & fall of a loud, palpitating cumbia: bom. bom

JJ Peña (he/they) is a queer, burrito-blooded writer living & existing in El Paso, Texas. JJ’s work is included in the Best Microfiction 2020 anthology & Wigleaf’s Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions (2020). JJ’s stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Washington Square Review, Cincinnati Review, Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere.

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