Viviana Mendoza


"My name is Viviana Mendoza and I am a Senior at Concordia University Chicago majoring Secondary English Education and minoring in Creative Writing. Previously, I was published by my university’s creative arts journal, Motif, as well as the Sagebrush Review. When I'm not writing, I can be found eating the cookies I stress-baked."

The Repainted Bookshelf

had a green Goodwill tag,
making it 50% off on Sunday. 

Originally, it was brown,
slightly worn,
had a library of experiences
            carved into the top of its surface,
My Little Pony stickers beneath the top shelf.
When I brought it home,
I decided that I would make it beautiful.
it could be loved. 

I sanded it down,
hid the experience,
removed the stickers,
covered it with an eggshell paint and primer in one,
            and thought:
“Is this what I’ve been taught?” 

“That brown things,
with all of their experience and history,
can only be loved
                                                after they’ve been painted white.”

I am fifteen and my mom wants me in the kitchen,

making tamales on Christmas Eve, but all i want to do is talk to the boy who doesn’t actually love me, and i mean i like tamales, and i like my mom, but i think i like this boy more. and all i want to do is get ready, and cover my face in pink blush, and i want her to let me go to his house. i want to celebrate with his family, but she doesn’t let me. and i mean, i think i get why. and i guess i’m upset. but still, i go to the kitchen, and stand next to her, arms crossed in front of me because i mean, of course, i want to let her know that i am upset. but she doesn’t care, and she hands me a husk, and a spoonful of masa, and tells me to start spreading. and i mean, i do. and we have this routine of handing the husk and spreading the masa, and my sisters join too, filling the emptiness with meat or fruit, and we stand in the kitchen, silently making tamales, letting the spoons hit the bowl fill the space as if they are music, and then the boy calls, and i interrupt the music to hear him sing me words of this supposed love, and he tells me that he’s not sure if actually wants to be with me, and my mom hears because of course, i put him on speaker since i wanted everyone to hear how much this boy loved me. and it turns out, he doesn’t. and so, i mean, i hang up, and walk back to the kitchen table. and my mom stops handing me husks to fill with masa, and instead, tells me to check on the tamales in the pan. and she stands next to me, breathing in the steam, waiting for me to tell her if they are ready. and i mean, they aren’t. it hasn’t been long enough, and she knows that, but still, she stands next to me, and pushes away the hair from my shoulder, tucking it behind my ear and tells me that they just aren’t ready yet.




© The Acentos Review 2021