This month, I am featured in the incredible serial online anthology, FORESHADOW YA with my f/f magical realism story REMEMBER. I hope you can all read it and share widely, and I hope you enjoy it (and don't cry too much.) Start reading REMEMBER below and let me know what you think on Twitter @claribel_ortega!
by Claribel A. Ortega
Aurelia sank to her knees beside the river in a town that had never seen the sun, and scooped twinkling water into her hands. She was trying to find her again, the girl with hair so black it blotted out the moon. The moon, reduced to a useless orb when they met. No need for any other warmth or light, because the girl had been enough. Aurelia would find her, even if she risked bursting the seams stitching her fragile heart together.
Aurelia had used cheap thread the first time she mended her heart, when it had broken months ago, after she’d left home and after the girl had been taken from her. Aurelia couldn’t afford the silver string needed to truly mend a heart. Who could, working as a waitress in a town with only one movie theatre and no decent johnny keke anywhere? Nobody.
“I don’t care,” she whispered into the night.
Behind her, the pink neon glow pierced the mist, making it impossible to see the River Stars cupped in her hands. She dropped the River Stars back into the water, letting the sparkling liquid run from her hands like a stream of brilliant glitter. Auggie insisted on always keeping the sign of the all-night diner turned on, but now Aurelia darkened the lights with a flick of her wrist. She needed ink-black darkness to see the River Stars, and she needed the stars to find the girl’s name.
Here, in Ozama, everyone had nicknames to ward the spirits from coming in and stealing you away, drowning you at the bottom of the river and keeping you there as a bloated, shiny treasure. You couldn’t give anyone your true name until they’d been accepted by your family. Aurelia was Lia to everyone else. Even to the girl, since Aurelia’s parents had not given her leave to love freely either.
It was a neat little trick their universe had played: you could only be with someone, or free them from a punishment, with their parents’ blessing or with their name. Aurelia had neither. She only knew the girl’s nickname, Consuelo—the one her parents had given her, the one Aurelia refused to say—but she would need her true name if they were to be together. And they had to be together. They just had to.
Aurelia scooped up another pool of water. In her palms swam a million tiny lights, stars, memories of times long past. Of people long gone. She searched for the familiar shine of the girl’s eyes. The scent of her perfume from that pink crystal bottle—the one she’d spritzed on after a shower, her skin still dewy from the steam.
There it was.