Life is Hard

So, there was the President of the United States on a press junket in Sarasota, Florida, about an hour away from his family’s vacation spot and during a non-political campaign, surrounded by a group of high-achieving brown students in a low-achieving school, as New York City’s Twin Towers crumbled.

This very same part of the country turned out to be the cradle of the terrorists’ training ground. And Alejandría’s hecklers had flown the planes.


On the very same day of the year but in 1980, in Havana, Cuba, while in her Soviet-era juzgado in the Alamar district, a beloved womanist writer listened to news of the attack, as it was happening and before filtered by the regime. America was burning.

“No es fácil” / Life is hard, she said. Then, she gave a stir to a pot of her famously popular Ropa Vieja, cooling on her stove.

She placed on her dining table four bowls for the meal, three Bucaneros, and four glasses—one turned down—in a half round.

If it worked out that her friends discovered her that day and thought it gruesome, she knew they’d at least appreciate her final act of hospitality.

The wordsmith didn’t bother leaving behind a letter. Why explain what they already knew? Not a single day more would she gather moonflowers and ponder the possibility of social persecution or of being confined to the sanatorium at Mazorra.

Either way, she couldn’t release from her mind the truth that her days would soon culminate at the Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón, where she’d be lowered into a temporary grave from which she would eventually be unearthed to make room for the next.

She’d be Sikán, gladly. But her sacrifice and the time of her end would be of her own design.

Dancing, she let her arms twist freely and spun herself out to her balcony. Then, she sat herself down into a large metal tub and soaked herself in petrol, siphoned from her lover’s car. And she listened, more, to the news. America was burning!


Alejandría Espinal, a Cuban-American, who lives in Florida, grieves the loss of her friend, Liliana, who perished in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. When Liliana’s remains are not found, Alejandría drifts into an otherworld in search for her friend but is taken into the creative afterlife of a celebrated woman in Alamar, Cuba, who had been censored. Before Alejandría’s friend died, she’d given her a gift that had been handcrafted by the woman. Their joining, guided by an elder they call Abuela, explores the deep yearnings of these women, who undergo extraordinary sacrifice to bellow thunderously and break from grief and suppression.

Art by Artist TMNK aka NOBODY

Cover design by Artist TMNK aka NOBDOY and KyleeliseTHT


September 11, 2017


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© 2013 by KyleeliseTHT