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FICTION / blonde skull, my jaguar tongue / Monique Quintana


You don’t want our shop to close down, do you? You want to watch me do tricks in doll face. My dark skin turned to porcelain white, my cheeks busted pink just for you. You pass us every night on your walk home from work. The ants dim and flicker in palm trees and you take care not to step on cracks in the gravel. You like the jars of heads in the window. Clay heads the color of planets. Goat milk water, embryonic and blue. 

My mother put her life savings in this shop. I’ve helped her wax sinews on shelves and pin limbs and bones in boxes, spread out like wings. She crushes flower under lampshade and spits agave and lipstick in cups. I volunteer myself. I want this all to stay in my family. 

When it’s all over, when we’ve filled our drawer with bills enough to keep this alive, she’ll pull the demons out of my throat like black clots of kelp lodged deep in the beach. For as long as it takes, I’ll let it rush my insides in two, my lungs turned to velvet chokes, my spine to red tourniquet locks. Watch me down to a size, tiny, ballerina tiptoe in my wood mansionette, my walls seeping with glue. How the glue will glow there like flies. 

Another. You’ll be just another in the crowd, fingertips pressed to the window pane and you’ll step inside our shop, buy cards and absinthe and oils, and I’ll keep twirling, pour fake tea from kettle, I’ll perform for you--blonde skulled and tiny. Quiet my throat. Pink lace gripped at my little wrists like teeth. 

Tomorrow. You think I’ll come for you glass faced? I’ll come in this body. Proud. My slanted eyes knife light. A mirror. My dark hair growing like wires. All the clocks in this shop will tick and will moan. My brain, my nerve roots devour. You can’t keep up with my cold house mouth and my jaguar tongue. 

Monique Quintana is an Associate Editor at Luna Luna Magazine, Fiction Editor at Five-2-One Magazine, and a pop culture contributor at Clash Media. Her novella, Cenote City is forthcoming from Clash Books in the spring of 2019. She blogs about Latinx Literature at her site, Blood Moon, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Winter Tangerine, Queen Mob's Tea House, Grimoire, Huizache: The Magazine for Latino Literature, and The Acentos Review, among other publications. You can find her at