CARTA

    Santo Domingo, martes 22 de febrero de 2022

    Querido yo del futuro,

    Espero que nos haya ido bien. Espero que cada sueño soñado que hemos tenido desde que teníamos 15 años se haya hecho realidad. Espero que nos hayamos convertido en el orgullo y la alegría de nuestros padres, y cuando la gente mencione nuestro nombre, no pueden evitar sonreír.

    Un abrazo frío desde el pasado ya que creo que en el futuro el calor está insoportable.

    PD: ¿Somos millonarios ya?

    A Rose with All its Thorns

    “I don't know why you're so angry, Annie,” said Gabriella, all enthusiastic. “It's Valentine's Day, for God’s sake, love is in the air!”

    “That's precisely the reason for my anger. Today's the phoniest day of the year. On second thought, second-phoniest day of the year. Christmas is more fake than valentine's.” said Annie with her usual cynical voice. 

    Gabriella sat next to her and started caressing my head, “Oh, Annie… Do you regret breaking up with Nicolas?”

    Annie slowly turned her head, giving her the best death stare she could and said, “Bitch please, he's lucky to have dated me for more than four months. Even if he'd still be my boyfriend, it wouldn't change my feelings on this day. It is just a stupid capitalist festivity made by greedy corporations to increase their sales after the Christmas decline in consumerism.”

    “Ok, I get it. Not a fan of Valentine's Day. Bummer…”

    Gabriella continued, “Well, recess isn't going to last forever, and I still got chocolates to collect, so I'll see you later.” She stood up to walk out of the room, but returned to hand Annie something.

    She pulled a blood-red rose out of her bag and gave it to Annie, “I didn't know you hated Valentine's Day before I bought this rose for you, so could you do me a favor and begrudgingly accept it? It would look pretty in your room…”

    Annie slightly laughed and accepted her friendly gesture, “I guess it's still a pretty flower, even detached from all the Valentine bullshit.”

    “Exactly. See you later, love.” Gabriella gave Annie a kiss on her cheek and ran out of the classroom.

    Annie began fiddling with the rose Gabriella gave to her, but she didn't notice all the thorns it had and nicked her finger.

    “Ouch… Stupid rose!” and throws it across the room.

    The bell rang across the school grounds, bringing an end to a day filled with classes. Annie & Gabriella gather their stuff to leave the classroom when a shy, scrawny, fair skinned teen with angular eyebrows, a cleft chin and large, light-brown eyes approached her, “Eh… Hi, Annie… I-I'm Joan. H-How's your Valentine's Day going so far?”

    Annie didn't pay him any attention and continued to gather her stuff, “For such a shallow day, it hasn't been that bad. Actually, scratch that, I got cut by a dumb flower.”

    Joan nervously looks down at the ground, “No way. That sounds crazy…” Gabriella picks up on Joan's vibe and tries to help him out, “That is because it is, Joan. It was barely a scratch, and besides, if you weren't so rough with it, you might've appreciated it.”

    “That's just another thing I hate about Valentine's Day. Anyway, I've had enough of this conversation, so goodbye,” She grabs her backpack and heads out the door.

    “Wait!” Joan quickly grabs her hand in desperation. “I, uh… W-Would you like to go on a date with me?”

    Annie looks at him confused, “What would make you think I--” But before she could say the wrong thing, Gabriella intervened, “Yes! She'll totally go out with you. How about this Saturday? Is Saturday good for you?”

    “Y-Yeah, sure,” Joan responded excitedly. “Great. This Saturday at 6:30 Agora Mall. Y'all can walk around, eat, talk and do some shopping all in one location,” said Gabriella. “That's awesome. I look forward to Saturday then, goodbye,” Joan left the classroom and couldn't help to have the biggest smile on his face.

    That isn't the expression on Annie's face though, she's going through numerous emotions right now, but happiness isn't one of them, “What the hell, Gabriella! What was that about?” “Annie, as your closest friend, trust me when I say this, this is good for you. Whatever you got going on with men and hating love, there's only two ways to solve it. One of them is going to therapy, but who wants to be the 17-year-old going to therapy for toxic romantic relationships. And the other way, the easier way, is dating a nice guy with good intentions to wash out all those bad experiences. Now let's go to your house and start looking for what you will be wearing on Saturday.”

    I wanted to say something that'd refute Gabriella's point, but I had nothing. What she said cut to my core at that time and made me feel self-conscious about how I'd been behaving, so I went along with it.

    The days leading up to the date were quite unremarkable to be honest, but the anticipation was killing me so when Saturday came around I was a sweaty, nervous mess, “Wow… You look beautiful. Black really suits you.” said Joan so genuinely that it made me feel somewhat bad that I had put no thought to my outfit apart from to avoid sweat stains, that's the opposite of dressing to impress.

    “T-Thank you, that's nice of you to say. You look good, too,” I said. “Oh, this old clothes. My mom helped me pick this ensemble actually, she thinks I don't have any fashion sense at all,” Joan said.

    “So, what you wanna do first, do you want to eat, you feel like walking around, or do you have to buy something?” he asked, turning in circles with his hand to his forehead like a sea captain looking for land. “Let's walk around the mall and see where we go from there.”

    We walked and talked and laughed all around the mall until the night came, and it was passed my curfew. We decided that it was time to head home after both of our parents had called us up multiple times asking when are we returning home. As we were waiting for our Ubers to arrive I decided to ask a question that had been on my mind since Joan asked me out on Valentine's Day, “Hey, Joan, why did you ask me out? Like, why me? We didn't know anything about each other until today. In fact, I didn't even know you existed until you approached me on Monday. No offense.”

    Immediately after I said that I felt bad, 'cause he might take it as me saying “I didn't enjoy this at all, thanks to you, I lost a Saturday.” And it couldn't be farther from the truth, I really did enjoy myself.

    Joan took a moment to answer my question, and what he said really took me aback. It showed me he was different from everybody else. He said, “Have you ever had the feeling you're drawn to someone? And it isn't anything they could've said or done?”

    When he said that it really left me pondering, but my Uber had arrived, so we'd to leave that conversation for another day. I said goodbye to him, thanked him for the good time and went on my merry way. I got home and Gabriella immediately texted me asking how it went. I simply texted, “You were right.” I laid down in my bed and closed my eyes thinking, feeling that things are about to change.

    “Oh, c'mon, Gabby, don't be mad. You can hang out with me and Joan. We'll be your Valentines,” said Annie lovingly.

    “I don't know what makes me madder, that I don't get a date for Valentine's Day, or that this time last year you professed your hate for this very day,” said Gabriella annoyed.

    “Yeah, I can't believe it either. Who knew love could make you so optimistic,” said Annie. “It's all thanks to you, Gabby.”

    “I knew. And you're welcome,” said Gabriella.

    Annie smiled.

    “By the way, Joan asked me to give you these roses and box of chocolates since he's not coming to school today,” said Gabriella as she hands Annie her present.

    “Aw!” Annie cried. “He's so sweet.”

    “Yeah, he's a national treasure,” Gabriella said. “I'm gonna go to the cafeteria and buy myself some chocolates. Later.”

    I sat alone at my desk surrounded by all these roses and chocolates, getting this weird sense of fulfillment. I picked one of the roses out of the bouquet, started fiddling with it, and it made me think of one thing, “A rose without its thorns.”

    Born in the 2000s

    I was born at the end of the new millennium, and I grew up in the clichéd single-parent working-class family. We often depended on my grandmother, financially, as my mother was getting back on her feet since the divorce. My parents married and separated before I was born. My dad spent a portion of his teens alone, as my grandmother got a good job in Costa Rica and lived there for several years. My mom was the first daughter and third child of the most hardworking university professor in the country, who made her children work hard and sacrifice themselves for her as much as she did for them. I would say that my upbringing was kind of old school, as I got to play and run around my neighborhood without a cared. I still got scars from those wild and rough days, but I consider them to be physical proof that childhood really was a carefree time.

    After graduating high school I truly didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, so instead of sitting down and thinking about it, I ran and distracted myself with odd jobs and new friends that wouldn't dare to ask me what am I going to do with my life. As months passed by, I started to think of everything I liked or had an interest in as a potential career. But nothing stuck. Football, no. Architecture, no. Photography, no. Drawing, no. Performance, no. And nothing came to mind as something I wanted to pursue, so it slowly dawned on me that I maybe in the small group of people in this earth that doesn't have a dream.

    Going into 2020, to a new decade, with this new piece of information about myself made the road ahead look more hard and confusing than ever before. A few months into this new decade and the world 🌍 came to a halt due to a global pandemic. This provided me with time to reflect about everything under the sun… but one question consistently came up, and the question was --- what was I going to do with my life? That question was constantly stucked in my head. So went running for answers. I looked and scoured through all of my belongings for something that would possibly put me on the right path. And a small, red notebook from 2015 gave me the answer to a 2-year journey. Inside this notebook, I found diary entries and stories from my teenage years. And just like that it all clicked for me, what I wanted to with my life is this. Express myself and form a connection with others through shared experiences and heartfelt emotions. All cleverly disguised and packaged in a masked superhero swinging through skyscrapers, or five high school students, all with different mindsets, facing detainment in their school library on a Saturday morning.

    It took me a couple of years to find my passion in comparison to most of my peers… So what. Life's a marathon, not a sprint. And you'll only get to the end if you're focusing on yourself and what's ahead of you.

    SAMUEL

    “So I guess what I'm trying to say is… I'm gay,” said Samuel with a pained expression on his face.

    I opened my mouth to say something… Anything, but words just wouldn't come out. You don't know how you'd react to a big piece of news like that, but me being speechless tells you all you need to know about how unexpected this was for me.

    We've known each other since we were 5 years old, I've shared every important thing in my life with Samuel. All the firsts, all the heartbreak, and all the joy. My favorite memories have Samuel in them, so for him to keep such a big part of him a secret, I gotta be honest, it hurts.

    Yesterday was the 10-year anniversary of our high school graduation, so in the spirit of being festive, we decided to gather everybody up and have a big party. As the years passed, Samuel and I saw less of each other. We began having different interests and forming friendships that pulled us farther apart. In the blink of an eye, life happened, and we weren't as close as we once were.

    The class reunion was the first time we'd seen each other in a while, but when we finally got together, it felt like old times. Even though we've been through so much and hadn't been there for each other in a long time, it was like we hadn't missed anything. We picked up right where we left off, and it felt great having my best friend back in my life.

    We spent the whole night chatting and attempting to catch up, but apparently we've done so much that when the evening came to a closed, we still had so much to talk about. Samuel had the idea that we should go have lunch together the day after, so we could truly chat freely, he could tell me something he'd been itching to tell for a long time. And that's where I find myself now.

    “Of all the things I imagined you wanted to tell me, I gotta be honest, this wasn't even in the top 10. And… And how long have you known this about yourself?” I said. “Well, I definitely knew by the time graduation rolled around, so… I'd say when I was around thirteen or fourteen, I came to the realization that I was gay. It was truly unexpected, but it also made all the sense in the world,” he said.

    “Wait a minute, since that long you've known. What the fuck, man, you couldn't tell me then?” I said in anger. Samuel looked at me with disappointed eyes, as he knew this would be my reaction, but he wanted to be proven wrong instead of proven right.

    “You see, this is why I didn't tell you as soon as I found out. Because I knew you wouldn't approve.”

    “Screw you being gay. That's fine. That's cool. Whoever's got a problem with someone being gay in the year 2012 has to look in the mirror and realize he's the problem. What I'm angry about is how could you assume that I wouldn't be supportive of you and would want you to come to me with this kind of stuff. I've shared everything about me with you after all,” I shouted as I couldn't believe my best friend, someone I would consider a brother, would think of me like that.

    “If my memory serves me right, William, I remember a time when you thought, “why would a man be gay when there are women like Kim Kardashian in the world?” Stuff like that discouraged me from sharing my truth,” Samuel snapped back.

    I immediately recalled that memory and felt like the biggest idiot. So, I changed my tone, “Well… That's at a time when I thought Kim Kardashian was the prettiest girl in the world. A very shameful time for me if I can be honest. But come on, man, you know me. You know how much I appreciate you and how love I got for you. You still should've trusted me.”

    Samuel finally broke down and share his experience with me, “Have you ever felt trapped by other people's expectations of you? Like… if you dared step out of the lines they have drawn for you, they'll no longer look at you the same way. You'll suddenly become something different… The kind of different that they don't approve of. And that's it. You will forever live outside their little circle of happiness. Like you don't deserve some too.”

    And just like that it dawned on me, I realized what Samuel was going through. The amount of pressure he was under when he came to grips with who he was. He knew life was going to be harder for him just for being who he is. His identity would make him struggle. And the world isn't pretty when you have to fight for who you are.

    I gave Samuel the biggest hug I'd ever given to him and said, “You don't have to fight to be who are when you're around me, 'Kay? I love you just the way you are.”

    Despidieron al Jefe

    For more than thirty years my country has had one leader. Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, El Jefe. But that all ends tonight. General Imbert, Huascar Pimentel, Luis Amiama Tió and myself are sitting

    I never thought I would have to do this. My hands hands shook slightly as I hold the rifle and wait for the signal. And thank God I'm not alone in this 'cause this is a task way too big for one person. General Antonio Imbert Barrera trusted me enough to include me in his plan, so I can't afford to back down when he needs me the most. My country needs me. After all, is too cold for butterflies to fly. 

    Huascar (Pimentel) looked over at me briefly, smiling his normal confident smile.

    “There's no need to be nervous, man. We're doing the right thing.” He snapped as his gaze returned razor-focused to the empty highway.

    I nod gently, “Yes. Yes, we are.”

    Once he looked away, I started to tap my foot anxiously as we wait for cue.

    The general got a tip from Lieutenant Amado García that Trujillo would be exiting Santo Domingo tonight and would only be accompanied by his chauffeur. Our plan is to ambush El Jefe as he is on his way to San Cristobal to see one of his many young mistresses and put an end to his reign of terror. There's no place for monarchs in this world any more.

    “Here comes the car! Everybody ready?” said Luis Amiama Tió hurriedly.

    And as calm as one can be, the general stepped out of the car and fired the first shot. All hell broke loose after that.

    Trujillo and his chauffeur shot back and put up a fight for a while. But eventually they ran out of bullets and got dealt with. We walked over to their bodies and stood in disbelief as the man who seemed untouchable for 30 years laid there in a pool of his own blood.

    Our hearts were beating fast, our adrenaline was through the roof and some many emotions were being felt that nobody knew what to say. Except for the general. He captured our emotions in just one sentence “Señores, hoy... Despidieron al Jefe.”