LESS DEAD by Samir Sirk Morató

LESS DEAD by Samir Sirk Morató

When asked, Dad says, Don’t worry about Ximena—she’s just a girl good at running away, but you find a shoebox of condoms, calling cards, Selena CDs, baby name lists, and blush palettes squashed between a bed leg and a wall, the last of Ximena in her whirlwind-emptied room, which reminds you of Diva Fridays:

Come on, she’d say, I’ll teach you about eyeshadow, before putting her heavy handed brushstrokes on your lids, which made you miss Marco—who lived in her room before he too fled—all cropped shirts, eyeliner, and laughter mixed with hair oil and truancy.

He had a box of condoms too.

The animals look like them, you tell Mom. She doesn’t understand that squirrels are gnawing with baby teeth, raccoons developing pink palms, vultures singing raspy cumbia, your beagle watching you through Marco’s eyes rimmed in black skin; she sees only laundry, lunch boxes, and outlines.

One Saturday, after you follow these animals into high weeds, burrs on your socks, Dad-tied pigtails on your head, you find the rotted lumps they’re eating: skin and bear paw people-fingers and maggots plated on shattered bones. It smells like basement.

Your dad says it’s just deer. Leave it alone.

Later, a woman calls you, asking if you’ve seen Ximena. She barely speaks English. You finger landline phone curls, safe and bored, before saying No.

No have money to call again, she says, so please—

Get more money then.

You hang up.

Many bad, fun runaways later, when police turn your boneyard into a poppy field of flags and shoot your animals for evidence, Mom weeps, vowing I didn’t know, while you tell yourself that you lied to be good, to be a girl missed, knowing you lied for no reason at all.


Samir Sirk Morato Samir Sirk Morató is a scientist, artist, and flesh heap. Some of their published and forthcoming work can be found in Tales to Terrify, Flash Fiction Online, ergot., and The Drabblecast. Find them on Twitter @spicycloaca and on Instagram @spicycloaca.

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