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José Enrique Medina

The Permanent

This year my fake name is Ronaldo. Every January, I change my name and phone number, shedding my old identity like a snake separating from the crinkly skin that housed its lies. That’s how I break up with boyfriends. Newly born, I wear an ex-lover’s life. One year, I dyed my hair blonde and limped, imitating my first sweetheart Fernando. Another time, I gained 20 pounds and curled weights, until my arms were as thick and strong as those of Misael, who choked me when I climaxed. It’s very dangerous being only one person for too long: you risk petrifying into love, mummifying into the permanent, which, if I can speak candidly, terrifies me like blows with a knife. A coward, I’d rather morph than freeze in love’s wax museum, where everyone can, clearly, see who I am. But the fluid also has its risks. Unlike me, Ronaldo was addicted to crystal meth, so as I try on his life, I have to be careful. I lift the syringe to the light, tap it three times, and slowly push the plunger, to take out the air bubbles.

José Enrique Medina earned his BA in English from Cornell University. He writes poems, flash fiction, and short stories. His work has appeared in Best Microfiction 2019 AnthologyThe Los Angeles ReviewRattle, and many other publications. He is a Voices of Our Nation (VONA) fellow.

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