1.02 – Dos Ciudades

Dianelys Martínez Rivero

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UNFORGETTABLE DAY –  It was the morning of December 31st, 1995 in Camaguey, Cuba and like every morning since I can remember, my mother prepared our Cuban expresso. We usually sit at the table to enjoy our morning coffee but on this day, the coffeemaker exploded and scared us badly. I remember seeing my mother shaking as she cleaned the dark stains off the wall. I couldn’t help her because I was too petrified. As I watched my mother clean, I had a strange feeling of dread. It was also the day of my father’s fifty-fifth birthday. He was living in Miami, Florida, and it was his custom to call me every year on his birthday. So, I road my bicycle to the nearest neighborhood where the phone booth was located. Once I had congratulated my father on his special...

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Gabriel F. Cruz Pérez

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A RIVER INTERNAL – No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man. -Heraclitus- 1. Stones in the River I always liked picturing life as a flowing river, with its turns and twists, rocks and waterfalls, calm streams and sudden rapids rolling from pleasant valleys to dark lonesome forests. And how suddenly it can trickle down to nothing. Like life, it’s wild, untamed and unpredictable. Like a river, with every passing second, we cease to be who we were, only to become someone else, someone new. Our actions, words, and thoughts, fall from us like stones onto the riverbed, polished and worn down by the currents of time. It’s the only proof of our existence. It is in the cruel continuity of life, that the beauty...

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José A. Colón Vega

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AMÉRICA – She always gives away that she likes her name, América. Once in a while, she chuckles at the unexpected grandeur of such a name. Every so often, she also takes to shouting “Washington!” with her sneezes. To this day, it has never failed to catch people off-guard. She looks like my mother; young, full-lipped, confident, her raven hair in a characteristically sixties’ bouffant. Her double-breasted trench coat hangs slightly shorter than her “mod” length dress showing off shapely legs, accented by stylish leather pumps. I imagine the wide lenses of her sunglasses hide pretty brown eyes lined with heavy black eyeliner and lashes thick with mascara. Barely visible in the faded print, América’s daughter, Crúz, gazes adoringly across the hood of our...

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Zoraida Ortíz

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EAST 138th STREET – We are excited to be given permission to go outside and play. But I no longer join in on the usual games of “kick the can,” “break the chain,” or “tag.” I have discovered a whole new world in books, and carrying the latest novel, I go downstairs to sit on the front stoop to watch my baby brother running down the sidewalk screaming “Batman!” at the top of his lungs. My sister, who is two years younger than me, joins up with the neighborhood kids to start a game. Apparently it’s “kick the can.” As I sit on the stoop trying to concentrate on my reading, a plane flies overhead. It makes a loud shrieking sound and feels like it might land on top of us. But it won’t. It’s headed for La Guardia Airport. I see my baby brother jumping up and down...

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Marisely De Jesús Vega

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FROM CUBA – On June 23, 1966, the same year of the end of the Cuban Revolution, my mother was born. My grandparents, Miriam and Rafael, were very proud and happy with their firstborn. They called her Marisol and baptized her in the local church when she was about two-months-old. November 13, a year later, Marjorie, their second daughter was born. They lived in the second floor, above the bakery that Rafael and Miriam owned in a province of Cuba called San Pedro. They were a happy family and very close to their neighbors. For fun they played briscas and danced. They held parties and celebrated birthdays, weddings and other special events. The sisters had many friends to play with and Miriam maintained a close relationship with her sister Elia and her family....

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Marisel De Jesús Vega

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YOU ARE THE AIR FOR MY LUNGS – Miriam Pérez Montes de Oca was the prettiest girl in the town, slim with thick, black hair. Rafael Vega Llanes was tall, handsome and a baseball player. They were neighbors in a little town called Santiago on the island of Cuba. Santiago was a poor town but a nice place to live where the typical activity was the townsfolk gathering in the city plaza to socialize. He fell in love with her when she was ten-years-old, just a little girl playing with dolls.  He used to pass in front of her house and just to catch a glimpse of her on her second floor balcony.  Because he was six years older, their love was platonic and so they remained just friends. As the years passed, he showed interest in other women and had many admirers. He...

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