Tricia Lopez



Tricia Lopez is a Nicaraguan and Salvadoran writer from Los Angeles. She is the former Editor-in-Chief of MORIA Literary Magazine. She has had poems, stories, and author interviews published in Dryland, Rabid Oak, The Hellebore, Marias At Sampaguitas, and other places. She graduated from Woodbury University with a BA in Professional Writing and is now getting her MFA in Creative Writing at Mount Saint Mary's University. You can find her on Instagram @trvcvv.l and Twitter @trvcvvl. She also has a podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts titled It Girl Thoughts.

Instagram: @trvcvv.l

Twitter: @trvcvvl

She only came outside of the house at night. I did not know she existed until that first night. Nate and I had argued over dinner, and my safety was the dark corner of my street, with the flickering streetlight, and the open invitation to be another police case. But when I walked out of my gate, across my street was this woman and her gaze. I was shy at first to interrupt her intimate affair with the night sky, but after a few times I felt the need to express my presence to her.

On the first night of our encounter, I walked over slowly to the front gate of her house. Until I saw her, I assumed that the man and the children had been widowed and happily rebuilt their family. Nate and I used to go on nightly walks and saw the children play on the front lawn, their father reading a book and smoking a cigar.

“Get a load of that guy.” Nate laughed.

“A man reading a book, smoking a cigar, listening to the sound of his children playing, where's the problem in that?”

“A man stupidly smoking in front of his children,” Nate pointed, “look at those kids, they could get seriously hurt.”

Nate squeezed my hand and dragged me along on our walk. After some time the father would only be outside for a few minutes to tell the kids to be back inside by eight. I often think of that day, how loud Nate was, how embarrassed this believed to be widowed man was that Nate criticized his parenting skills. The children didn’t play outside anymore for too long, I often felt like I needed to go apologize for my terrible thoughts.

When I walked to her gate, the first thing I noticed was her eyes. They were dull and screaming; a roar of metal scraping each against each other. I could not make out the words coming out of her eyes. Her alabaster skin soaked in the half moon’s glow, I felt my whole body lift up in the air as I tried to say hello.

“Did you know there will be a comet that will miss the earth this year?” she asked. I could not tell if she was looking at me, or past me like I do to people when they try to create a brief connection, but she looked at me and I could not feel my knees.

“I did not know that.”

She walked closer to me and the feeling in my body only felt worse. Sweat and tears formed as the night sky moved into the back of her head to reveal her face.  I saw her artificial face flushed in front of me. The most ordinary, extraordinarily bland. There was no life, no memories, no pondering of life written on her face. She was beautiful. Her eyes continued to talk to me in a language only my heart could feel and react. I ran home quickly and threw up in the bathroom.

“I told you not to order that stupid Chinese food, I could have cooked tonight,” Nate said while he cleaned up my lips, “besides, I don’t like people coming to the door, you know that.”

The next day after the first encounter I woke up with the thrill of finding an excuse to be outside at night. During the day I check the tasks on the fridge Nate leaves me to do until he comes home from work. It’s always the same routine with the limitation in movements and questions. At first when the dynamic was created, I took things seriously and followed the strict regimen made by Nate. I vigorously cleaned the house, making sure I wasn’t bending down, with the organic cleaning supplies and staying away from coffee and pineapple. But after some time I made no negotiation and walked to buy coffee.

After meeting the woman for the first time, I could not stop thinking about her. I had an overflowing amount of questions, and not enough confidence in me to translate her words. I peeked outside to see if she was there, but all I could see was the husband bringing in groceries with the oldest boy. The only time I am allowed to go out at night is when Nate turns away from me. It is only then that the door is unlocked and I can leave.

Nate came home that day and called in the chef to make me sweet potatoes and salmon, which he never asked if I enjoyed. But of course Nate knows the absolute best, so I get the absolute best. The dining table was a mile long. I’ve always felt that way with Nate; I was a mile away from him resting under a tree until he could catch up, but he never does.

“How do you like your salmon?”

“It’s the same.”

“What does that mean?” Nate asked.

“That it’s the same.”

Nate cleared his throat and wiped his lips. The first time Nate did that was the night that I told him I did not want to stay home all day. He did not say a word. I didn’t want to stay home all day because I wanted to drink wine and enjoy the luxury of being able to talk for a little while longer. That was the day that I sat a mile away from Nate; I did not go outside that night but I felt like I could.

“You know,” Nate said, “I read that salmon-”

“Is really good for me right now. I know, but I’m just bored.”

“Did you go through the list on the fridge? You know that it's important to keep a-”

“Routine going so you don’t feel like you’re wasting away. I didn’t finish all of it.”


“Because,” I said looking at my plate. A dead fish and mutated potatoes stared back at me, begging to end their humiliating life. I wished more for them, “you’re the most annoying person I’ve ever met.”

“Kate, don’t start.”

“I hate you. I hate all of this, I hate this position that I’m in, I hate you.”

“Kate that's actually enough.”

“No,” I said to him, “I hate that you know how to read and use the internet to look up stupid rules. I hate that you know how to speak and formulate sound to drive my head into a fucking wall. And I fucking hate salmon and the way sweet potatoes crush inside my mouth.”

“Then why don’t you do it already and just fucking take it out?”

For any other person, I know that hearing this from a man that you once shared a dance with on the beach is crushing. But for me, it was a relief and humorous exchange of words that I couldn’t help but laugh as I got up and grabbed a water bottle.

She was outside in the same spot I had seen her. Still looking up at the sky wondering when the comet would end this world, writing her eulogy to human kind and reassuring them that it was a good life lived. I stood outside of her gate, and she hovered over, moving the dark sky out of her face with the same plastic eyes. I smiled slightly and began to drink water.

“What does water taste like?” she asked. She walked closer and grabbed the bottle of water.

“It tastes like an apology. Like a really warm and sensational apology that helps you sleep at night.”

“That sounds satisfying.”

“Why can’t you drink water?” I asked.

“I’m allergic. It is this strange glitch in my body when I try to pass it through my mouth.”

I looked up at the sky, and for the first time I could see stars waltzing together, hand in hand, with the honey sound of guitars and violins wrapping around them. They were joyous, utterly joyous in that blanket of sound.

“I’m Kiara,” she said to me.


“Kate, may I watch you finish your water bottle?” Kiara asked.

I laughed, and drank my water bottle slowly that night.

For the next several nights I walked out of the house as soon as Nate came home. I called the chef to let him know I no longer needed him and took all the money I had in my safe. I walked for a long time. Sometimes I would stop to eat at a restaurant, or order fast food and eat it on the walk home. But I always made sure that I had a water bottle to entertain Kiara when we would meet. At first, she would only speak to me about the comet, and asked how my water tasted today. But on the very last night , she opened the gate and asked me to come in.

“Does he kick you out?” she asked.

I looked into her eyes and waited to see a scream.

“No. It’s me that kicks him out. What about you?”

“It is a mutual kicking out,” she said looking into the window. A single light from the lamp showed his balding head resting on the couch.

“You must love your children,” I said to her.

“I can not pretend that those children are mine,” she said reaching for my water bottle, “I came once they were already old enough to understand that we would not have that special bond they lost.”

I stood in silence and watched her hold onto the water bottle. The unnatural, inauthentic folds formed by her thumbs to squeeze the water bottle. I was watching a character making sense of a human formation. She reached out to place her hand on my stomach, her red lips crinkled into a short smile.

“I find love to be hard to feel, when you can not explain the right words to yourself.” she said.

“Will you ever love your children?” I asked her.

Her blonde hair moved with the wind as she opened her mouth. Her teeth were too straight for your eyes to understand, and her tongue sat still.

“When I am programmed well enough I think I can,” she said to me.

That next day I walked into a small cafe for my coffee. I sat outside and watched the cars go by one by one, thinking of where they were going and if they were happy to get there. I looked down at the roundness of my striped shirt, and for the first time since this all started, I felt fear sitting with me at the table. We did not speak as I put down my coffee and held onto my stomach. For the first time I could hear a voice inside my head with the words, “I do.” I rushed home thinking of the chores Nate left me.

A crowd gathered in front of Kiara’s gate. As I walked closer, Nate was standing there on the phone until he saw me. He pointed me to the police and rushed over to grab my hand.

“They said that you killed her!”

I saw her lying there. The way grass warped around her exposed wires and harddrive like seaweed on rocks along the shores. They were hungry to cling onto something dry, something like home; the grass knew that this was their safety. Kiara was beautiful. She laid there broken, no shape to her body. A mannequin in the mornings waiting for the pounds of cotton stuffing and cheap clothing. Her eyes hung off of her face connected by computer parts.

 “That’s her! Always looking at my wife at night, I see you through the fucking window. What did you do to my wife?”

“Kate?” Nathan asked.

I looked into Nate’s eyes, but I couldn’t tell if he was scared of me, or the thought of a life where he can no longer call out my name and expect me to walk into the room.

“Kate, did you kill her?”

Everyone expected a spectacle. A sea of tears, a million apologies, a form of human-like qualities to appear and clean up Kiara and patch together a family. A woman to look at the children and beg them to pray for her that night and relieve her of every awful thought she thought of.  All I could give them was the bottle of water in my hands. I crossed the street through the crowds of police and into my home. I took off my shoes, sat on the couch, and watched tv until it was night time again.

© The Acentos Review 2020