Three Short Fictions

by Jennifer De La Cruz

Water, Light, Dirt

Plants need three things to grow: water, light, dirt. She has given each plant these things in varying amounts. They are defiant and refuse to root. The Crassula bends and dips waywardly. The maroon blooming over the green indicates a sunburn. The Delosperma is thin, leggy, and uncertain like a teenage girl. The Nanouk plays coy– it blushes virgin pink but will never allow her to see it flower. She spends her time chasing sunlight. She loses sleep searching for deals on humidifiers and dreams of fog. If plants need just three simple things to grow, why won’t they? The ring of the telephone interrupts the watering schedule. It is her mother calling, asking about her womb.   

El regalo mejor

We were all at mamá’s 80th birthday party. There were sunflowers made of meringue on her cake. We sang happy birthday in two languages because we are in America now and we won’t let her forget it. We ignored the heavy, funereal dress she chose. We ignored the trap door expression on her face. We ignored her hand on her hip as she tilted toward the single candle she blew out with a sigh. 80 years: a lost mother, a dictator, a dead husband, at the mercy of knees that won’t let your feet run away. All culminating into este día glorioso. We should all be so lucky.

Loved and Wanted

A friend of mine was molested by all the men in her family who had the opportunity to babysit her. All of them. She could never relax around her own brother. She watched him carefully, anticipating his inherent depravity. Her panic expanded alongside her uterus. She wept with relief when she found out the sex. I watched her change the baby’s diaper—delicate pink and purple flowers with smiley faces on them. I wondered if the baby was born of euphoria, but I did not ask. She looked at her tiny vagina and smiled. “I would have drowned her if she were a boy” she cooed.

Jennifer De La Cruz lives and hardly ever writes in Brooklyn, New York.

Image edited from 2017 Women’s March poster by Jess X Snow