R.F. Gonzalez




R.F. Gonzalez was born in Nicaragua. After living in Europe and Central America, he moved to the United States where he works as a writing instructor, investor, and writer. He has written two books, an anti-love story titled Love is a Cheerleader Running, and an anthropology text titled Chinese Gong Fu: Toward a Body-Centered Understanding

Visit his website at www.rfgonzalez.com or follow him on Twitter @rfgonzoauthor.

From her to me her words sing, Are you with me or not?

She urges me on as we walk as if in a hazy dream.

I need to tell you somethi— is all I get out before my throat shuts.  

The universe is a hibernating chimera in my throat, or a gnarly elephant whose rogue hairs cut my voice – but only when my life depends on it.

Sorry babes she says. What were you saying?

Her hand grazes my shoulder and she stares into me so deeply that I nearly black out. She doesn’t know that when she touches me she’s the world’s most adroit torturer.

Maybe I’m getting sick, I whisper these words through coward’s lips. Defeated and deflated are my synonyms today. They are bulky, loopy earrings piercing my heart.

Her smiling is a doubly event, a transformation between a sinister leer that stretches her mouth skin so thin it looks like foggy silicone, and a pursing of lips that squeezes out the last ounce of empathy for the world.

It’s the weather, she says and laughs and holds her hands out as if her gesture will part the heavens and rivers and drag out the sun. She’s not Moses, but her god is probably volcanic like her.

It’s not the weather, it’s you, I say. Spilling my guts is a gesture of war, but she has stopped listening to me and is gawking at the conversation nearby. I’m out of guts and can’t repeat my own words. My voice box feels so prickly that I can’t swallow and when I finally do so the large animal that resides in there smooshes the words attempting to burst from my heart.

Are you hearing this, Lee? she utters my name without even taking note of how inside-out I’ve become. She throws a pointy elbow that hits my right floating ribs for emphasis and jolts me.

Touching is a kind of looking but without eyes. I may have read that somewhere in a book about animal behavior. Animals use their eyes to hunt and their skin to communicate. Humans are skewed – their eyes say everything and their touch is violent.

The contact drives me to madness, like how Alice felt on that first lonely night, the instance before the body of the rotund Cheshire enveloped those larger than life feline teeth, and said, Where would you like to go?

I don’t know, said Alice.

Then it doesn’t matter, said the cat as it began to fade out of existence. Reality swirled madly for this kid. I compare the world to Wonderland too much. Not to the book but the cartoon I saw when I was seven. I try to stuff the magic into my own writing but it ends up sounding farcical.

These people are living a Mexican telenovela just ten yards from here, she says.

What did they say? I ask, genuinely intrigued. I silently bet there’s a puny unicorn and an autistic wizard in the antagonist’s family – and they’re cousins somehow.

That only the broken-hearted can know true love, she says to fill me in on the drama nearby, that a witch has cursed their family for five generations now, and that the spell can only be broken by—

By what, my god, tell me, Anne, I say, needing to know how it all ends.

They’re gone, she says. We’ll never know. She seems okay with remaining unresolved but the lack of closure will kill me in my sleep.


We take a trip together and fly south – way south. We are sporadic, and my wanting her is fueled by greedy lust but mostly love.

Tell me all about your past lives, your habits, she says.  

I’m still back in the past and I’ve always looked like this, I say, and give her a goofy face.

And you? I ask reluctantly, not really wanting to know her secrets. Where intimacy is concerned, details are love’s knives.

I have twelve pasts. Each one hairier and older than the last, she smirks, and I die a little inside.  

Too much, I cringe while performing a quiet inventory of my body hair.

Don’t be a prude, she says, give me a number. Numbers tell you more about a person than anything else. If I had slept with fifty men, you might say I’m lecherous, or worse.

I suppose, I say, and reveal my twenty-five pasts which I feel is a conservative number for a guy. I fail to reveal that each one was slimmer and blonder than the last.

Whore, she says, and brushes me away like a vile fly.

She fidgets. We are stewing in the reception area of our vacation stay, waiting for paperwork.   

You lied, she says. This is a student hostel. We’re adults, damn it. I demand a grown-up bed, not the undersized twin slabs that litter these places.

But think of all the money we can save and spend on other things like drinking and feeding the starving children, I say in quick defense.

Did we come here to save the world, or ourselves? she says with tight lips.

We agree to share a room with two beds since they are cheaper but a disgruntled tenant mentions they smell like burnt rubber because only hookers rent them out. We take it anyway.

Out of nowhere, I promise her that we should always be friends, no matter what.

I’ve got enough friends, she answers and adds, when I travel I travel hard. If you haven’t left a place wobbly and starved for sleep then you haven’t done your job.

What job?

Living, she says.

That’s very insightful, I squeal. I say the dumbest things, in the highest tones, when I’m falling for someone.

We are being handed greasy keys on a moldy keyring by a balding, middle-age midget with a dead bicuspid. In just about any other context, this man is a carny.  

Grath-ee-ass, he says with a frightening lisp, and we take the keys, turn away like soldiers do, and march off as fast as possible.  

Despite the grimy room, I see us, what’s to come, and it is love – but it feels more like a paper boat confronting the great Pacific during hurricane season.

Our first night there is easy. We drop off our stuff in the room and go downstairs to eat and have two drinks on the house. See, we’re saving already, I say. She’s not amused and lets a pffft! out of her fully kissable lips and I’m losing her and I’m afraid she’ll walk off and pick up an interesting local so I say as fast and as loudly as I can, I wrote you poem!

Her eyebrows turn to upside down u’s. I read it to her and she hates it. It’s absolutely dreadful, she says, before adding darling – as if saying that makes the criticism, blow to ego, emergent tears, and my cracking heart any less hurtful.

Don’t become a poet she says. Poets are artists who splatter words onto pages, like Pollock’s work.

You don’t like his paintings? I’m surprised that someone so carefree can sound so adamant about abstract art.

Abstraction is a scam, she says. True art is bound by the world’s beauty, by nature’s own blood.

Her resolve is too much for me and I vow to hate the abstract for life.

Maybe abstraction moves people, I add. It doesn’t, she lashes back, and you need to read more psychology. I’m right. You’ll see.

I’m easily disheartened and she bares some teeth to acknowledge my defeat. Okay let me hear it again she says with an eye roll so pronounced that my insecurity has gone from snowflake to avalanche. Her pity is tangible. You clearly rushed through it, go, she says.

So, I begin.

From skin to skin we converge.

From eye to eye we witness our tragedies.

From hand to hand we squash doubt.

From day to day we weave our destinies.

And from heart to heart we break.

Rubbish, she says. It sounds like a telephone commercial from the 90’s. I grind my teeth at her clarity and I then let those dreams crumble into a pile of smoldering embers.

It’s still early but we’re tired so we go back upstairs to crash. If I could let her spin dreams for me, I would, but she’s likely already doing so.


I wake early and watch her sleep from the other side of the room, in another bed, in another world. She opens her eyes and unleashes a smile.

Dibs on the shower she says and violently flails her arms and legs toward the bathroom – just in case I decide to race her. I don’t even flinch as the sheets flap in all directions.

I cringe at my own insecurity, of wanting to be in the shower with her. She begins to hum and then some words sneak in to push the melody up into the ether. The tune bounces off the walls of our room and lightly grazes my heart. I’m jealous of the droplets, jealous of water, the water that drowns us all.  

I want to slip in unnoticed while her back is turned and wrap my arms around her. I want to struggle through our first kiss like happy travelers do. I want to hear our mutual resonance in this tiny bath.

I can hear she’s out of the shower and toweling off. Another melody catapults from her mouth and hovers in the air along with the lingering shower steam. Each droplet carries a note, a word, a thought, a sentiment. From her mouth to mine her song goes, and her words are a deluge in my soul.

In another universe, these other events have happened. In this alternate place, we stand under the shower in awe of what comes next. Here, I hold on to her for dear life, to show her that we’ve peaked and that this is where we have been leading to the entire time.

It all happens so fast for my alternate self, so fast that its inversion can only exist as non-action through me in the present. Nothing is happening for me now as fast as something is happening for other me there.

She comes out dressed and says, Breakfast?

She is wearing black flip-flops and my eardrums rattle from the clap, clap, clapping of foam on foot. Maybe this is how love is clapped into existence, from foot to ear to eyes to heart.

I attempt to get out of bed but then I realize that part of the alternate universe where we are making love has spilled over into my bed. So I stand with the sheet over me like a phantasm and then she says with a smirk, That’s ok. I won’t look.

She turns around and lets me run to the bathroom. Sorry about this, I say, but it’s perfectly normal in the mornings. For guys, not girls. You know? But then I think, does she know? Am I presumptuous? Am I misogynist? Am I a presumptuous sexist misogynist?

She snorts a sexy snort before saying, uh huh, sure, it’s normal. Then silence. I wait. And wait. She’s gone, I think, so I start the shower.

I jump in and close my eyes and try to imagine this other universe where I’m better. Suddenly, I can’t move. It’s her hands threading through mine. She’s attempting an impossible kiss and my neck muscles feel taut enough to snap.

She turns me around forcefully, bites her lip, and burrows into my deepest parts.

Anne has me by my shoulders which may as well be horns and looks as if she’s about to say something but then looks down and sees the source of all suffering in the world. It resides between all legs. Her eyes flutter and she pulls me closer without hesitation, and we surrender ourselves to this awkward universe, like happy lovers do.


© The Acentos Review 2020