Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 2



Worse Than White Chocolate

Tomás Baiza


Velvety cheeks, silken eyebrows, two impossibly soft lips. Everything your fingers explore is so achingly close to perfection.

The room is silent, except for the officious beeping and thrum of machines. Wispy shuffling in your peripheral. Words are unthinkable, profane.

There are no windows or clocks. It is impossible to know the time of day—or to care. Time has no meaning here. Not anymore.

Everyone wears masks, pulled high over mouths and noses, only eyes exposed. One of the half-faces is crying, her throat gurgling and blue paper mask soiled by tears and snot. Most of the rest have turned away or try to act busy.

No one will look at you, and still everyone manages to watch.

You shut your eyes against the odors—cold, biting, antiseptic—that are supposed to instill confidence that everything will work out fine, that the experts had this covered, that this could never go very, very wrong. So wrong that the sterile promises claw past your clenched teeth and build a tangled, sour nest in your mouth.

Now you know that lies taste even worse than white chocolate.

Yet the lies cannot ruin the most glorious smell of this world: newborn hair. Rich, human, and necessary. Hair so fine and light as atoms that it might as well be smoke easing past your lips.

Unencumbered by reason, you mumble a song your mother sang to you as a lullaby, a song from the Mexican Revolution about a woman too comfortable in the presence of men. You give it as an offering because it is the only piece of your heritage you can think of in your madness. The very idea of your voice not being the last thing he hears might send you through a window—if only there were any. You tell yourself it’s okay because, no matter the lyrics, your mother gave you this song out of love. One of her rituals.

And so, you will choke down the salt of your rage and repeat that ritual, here, in this hateful place. You will do it because, more than anything else, you must leave love.



Tomás Baiza: "I was born and raised in San José, California, and now live in Boise, Idaho, where I am currently studying creative writing at Boise State University. My work has appeared in Parhelion, Writers In The Attic, Obelus, In Parentheses, Meniscus, The Meadow, Peatsmoke, and elsewhere."




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