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Not a Heart Attack Emperatriz Ung

The little one wants to know who my father is. “Don’t you have a dad too?” he asks. “Where is your dad?” he wonders. And I don’t have the heart to tell him that his grandpa hurt me. Hurt me in a way that no words can take back the damage dealt. “He’s gone,” I tell the little one. “Gone where?” he asks. Bright eyes full of curiosity. I shake from fear of saying too much. Saying the wrong thing. Because we’re taught to keep it contained, because he’s too young to know. “Did he have a heart attack?” he guesses. The little one guesses, persists. Silently, I fabricate stories in my mind. Stories where my father isn’t the villain. I invent tales of adventures that took my father far away, places that exist only on the outskirts of my imagination. “But was it a heart attack?” the little one asks again. “No, not a heart attack.” And it eats away at me because this little one can’t possibly know the stories he’s stirred up. And I can’t bring myself to tell a lie. “He’s just gone,” I whisper.

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Conceptions Southwest 2017  

This is the 40th edition of Conceptions Southwest, the University of New Mexico's fine arts and literary magazine.

Conceptions Southwest 2017  

This is the 40th edition of Conceptions Southwest, the University of New Mexico's fine arts and literary magazine.

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