Rocio Anica

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Rocio Anica is a native of Southern California. Currently in the MFA writing program at Cornell University,  she teaches short fiction and is at work on a road-trip novel about a ChicanX, DIY street artivism, underground music, surfing and misfits. She can be found at


This is about ghosts. Not the real kind, but the kind you make up when you have nothing you can talk about. The real kind are also fake, but that’s useless in my family. If we were to say to each other ghosts aren’t real then we’d have to talk about how my Mexican dad hates women, how there is never money in the bank, and how my Mexican-American brother also hates women, in a family made full by women who work. I tried to write a novel about it once, but everyone who read the first three pages wondered why the ghosts were talking to each other. They wanted scenes full of real people. Drama. Cathartic conflicts and passionate dialogue. I said to myself but my family doesn’t have those things, we just have fake ghosts. Our ghosts are a surface that we throw our downward language at, our ghosts are cracked mirrors still hanging on the walls, we know their surfaces will deflect the grave nature of what we mean and don't want to mean, and turn it into something we can work with. What I mean is like how when Tia Julia snuck out of the house to get an abortion, the next day everyone was sharing their feelings about the poltergeist haunting her window. They had heard it that night. Tia Julia had said yes, it’s really there. I am very afraid. When I said I didn’t want to have children and that I would never marry and my premonition came true, my apartment became very haunted. I was not somebody to make angry, which made conversations on Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving easier. Then there was the time my tio stole my other tio’s wife. The two headed to Canada like thieves during a witching hour, leaving a total of eight very-related children behind for someone else to deal with. It was clear that whatever demon had possessed both of them had choked their souls, leading them so far astray that it dragged them across the wrong border. Que dios los bendiga, we said. When Abuelo had stripped Abuela naked, struggling to hold her down as he sprinkled Ajax on her labia after he’d heard some rumors, there was a phantom living in the hallway for a very long time. It kept my tias in their room, and my tios in another room for a very long time. Ghosts are important, and useful. I hate that I failed our ghosts. I threw the novel in the trash. Hate is a strong word. What I meant was fear. But by the time the word has reached your brain, the page in your hands will have functioned like a ping pong table or like that mirror I was talking about before and from it will have sprung something else because here’s a good thing to know: when you use strong words to distract, when your mouth creates shiftshape sounds, anything can reflect, anything may shoot upward to haunt the idea of itself like any good ghost. A serious thing I have never admitted to anyone is that I have a very acute death wish just so that I can have a real conversation with my family even if it's in the afterlife because I hate that I cannot have one now. I hate that. Which is why I suppose, I’m here, talking to you, dear reader: I try not to hate that you’re a phantom holding a mirror to another mirror in my cavernous rainbow mind.




© The Acentos Review 2016