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Excerpt from The Ordinary Monster


“. . . Alejandro understood that he drank to stop the dreams — those nightmares that came so often whenever he lay his head down to rest. He drank to block out those nights; those nights when Mariana visited him wearing the same housecoat and old pair of chanclas she always wore — the pink slippers with the little blue rose sewn into the top. She came to him on these nights wearing the same beautiful smile she wore on their wedding day; a smile that always melted his heart. But then like his heart, her smile melted, and her eyes which once had looked at him adoringly stared at him in accusation. On those nights, he looked into those eyes and her once beautiful face until that face disappeared into a blanket of crimson.


“He drank to block out those nights when the girl, Luciana, found him in his slumber. She crawled into bed next to him and whispered into his ear. On those nights, he strained to listen, but could not hear what she spoke. It was not until she motioned with her hand that he looked down her torso. Each time that he did so, he discovered that where once there had been legs, now, there was nothing. Then the whispers became screams, “¿Por que? Why did you do this? Why did you take my legs?” Those screams continued until he woke in a film of sweat.


“He drank to stop the visits from the boy, Junior, who crept to the side of his bed and thrust his hand in front of Alejandro’s eyes. The boy said not a word, but forced the man who once was Hector to stare at the hand which ended only in knuckles where the three middle fingers should have been. Junior made him look at that hand that now sported the mark . . .


“He drank because late at night, passed out in an alcohol-induced stupor, Alejandro had no such dreams. He drank; not to forget the past or to soothe the present. Nor did he drink for fear of his future. He drank to obliterate the dreams.”


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