First Page: Katrina
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Some days Katrina Villalobos could barely manage the strength to get out of the bed. After opening her eyes from a particularly good dream, she’d be glad to be alive and next to the person who she cherished more than her very life. Then she’d roll over and greet nothing but cold pillow still indented with her corazon’s head print. Then pain and memory so sharp she felt as if she were performing an exercise in self-mutilation would wash over her. She’d grab for the pills she kept next to her bedroom, take two to get rid of her continuous headache, then stop and deliberate whether she should take another twenty. For whole minutes, she’d stare at them, mesmerized by their bleached white pureness. Her alarm would go off for the second time, she’d drop the pills onto their assigned spot and get out of bed.
Those were the good mornings.
On the bad mornings, she’d wake up from nightmares of Lucia dying. She’d shot straight up, like heroines in the movies, and have to struggle to grasp a real breath. Seconds stretched into lifetimes as her lungs would try to give her heart a reason to get the blood pumping. But her heart had died a long time ago and her body was housing the ghost of long dead memories. She’d stumble into her living room and fumble under the sofa cushions for the gun bought after Lucia, sunshine, and flowers. Her fingers would stop their trembling as she cocked it and placed it next to her head. Before she’d close her eyes to watch her life flash before her eyes, her eyes would settle on Lucia’s drawing of them together, holding each other so tight it seemed they merged into one another. She’d put the gun down, take a deep breath, and either light a cigarette or pour herself some wine before she took a cold shower.
This was one of those mornings. The very violence of these kinds of mornings did not scare her. Quite the opposite. Katrina took a small amount of pleasure from the painfulness of her existence. Any other way of living would be an affront to the memory of her corazón. She could not pretend that her very reason for living was anywhere but six feet under. Her solace in the midst of her mental self-torture was pure because it meant that Lucia had meant something to her and would always mean something to her.
Katrina had become used to cold showers. She even liked them. They would hit her like cold tears from heaven, the kind that fell on her girlfriend’s coffin as they lowered her to the ground. Although it hadn’t been raining when she’d had Lucia buried, whenever the dream memory would hit her there would always be rain. What she wanted desperately as she was showering was a cigarette. She wondered what stopped tobacco companies from creating a cigarette that could be smoked in the shower. She’d gotten used to cigarettes as well, the kind that scratched at her throat and made her voice sound like she’d been up all night making love to sandpaper. Lucia had loved her voice, had told her that it sounded like cashmere over silk as Katrina whispered soft words across Lucia’s thigh.
Her landline rang as Katrina got out of the shower. She owned a cell phone but didn’t have the energy half the time to charge her phone. The one person who she wanted to talk to was gone.