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An excerpt from'Miss Lora'

1

Years later you would wonder if it hadn’t been for your brother would you have done it? You remember how all the other guys had hated on ­her—?­how skinny she was, no culo, no titties, como un palito but your brother didn’t care. I’d fuck her.

You’d fuck anything, someone jeered.

And he had given that someone the eye. You make that sound like it’s a bad thing.

2

Your brother. Dead now a year and sometimes you still feel a fulgurating sadness over it even though he really was a super asshole at the end. He didn’t die easy at all. Those last months he just steady kept trying to run away. They would catch him trying to hail a cab outside of Beth Israel or walking down some Newark street in his greens. Once he conned an ­ex?­girlfriend into driving him to California but outside of Camden he started having convulsions and she called you in a panic. Was it some atavistic impulse to die alone, out of sight? Or was he just trying to fulfill something that had always been inside of him? Why are you doing that? you asked but he just laughed. Doing what?

In those last weeks when he finally became too feeble to run away he refused to talk to you or your mother. Didn’t utter a single word until he died. Your mother did not care. She loved him and prayed over him and talked to him like he was still OK. But it wounded you, that stubborn silence. His last fucking days and he wouldn’t say a word. You’d ask him something straight up, How are you feeling today, and Rafa would just turn his head. Like you all didn’t deserve an answer. Like no one did.

3

You were at the age where you could fall in love with a girl over an expression, over a gesture. That’s what happened with your girlfriend, ­Paloma—?­she stooped to pick up her purse and your heart flew out of you.

That’s what happened with Miss Lora, too.

It was 1985. You were sixteen years old and you were messed up and alone like a motherfucker. You also were ­convinced—?­like totally utterly ­convinced—?­that the world was going to blow itself to pieces. Almost every night you had nightmares that made the ones the president was having in Dreamscape look like pussyplay. In your dreams the bombs were always going off, evaporating you while you walked, while you ate a chicken wing, while you took the bus to school, while you fucked Paloma. You would wake up biting your own tongue in terror, the blood dribbling down your chin.

Someone really should have medicated you.

A little bit about Junot Diaz

Junot Diaz cr Lily Oei.JPG

Junot Díaz is the author of Drown (1997) and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 2008. His most recent publication (in which ‘Miss Lora’ appears) is This Is How You Lose Her (2012), a collection of linked narratives about love told through the lives of New Jersey Dominicans, as they struggle to find a point where their two worlds meet. He is the recipient of a PEN/Malamud Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Born in Santo Domingo, Díaz is also a professor at MIT.


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