Letters to Castro: Fiction from Luna Luna magazine





We started talking about you the other night. I don’t know what it is about the fried pickles at the esteemed Continental Modern Pool Lounge that gets people talking, but before I knew it, there you were.

And while we don’t have that much in common—mostly that I’m not a famous dictator—I suspect we could talk for days. I like islands; you live on an island. I like cats; you might like cats. You’re a crazy dictator; I’m pretty bossy myself.

It was one of those nights where I ate too many fried pickles and stayed out two hours later than I told myself I would, but hell. I thought of you.

Table for Two

Are you the kind of guy who can’t resist a restaurant dessert menu? It’s hard to imagine a dictator sitting around spooning at some sorbet or an oversized slice of cheesecake, but it could happen.

Dessert is always a bad idea. The dessert menu is a land of regrets.

“We’ll share it,” you say to your dining accomplice, which is great until they choose something involving bananas. I don’t know about you, but the only place I want to see a banana is attached to the peel. Don’t sneak that flavor into something else. When I’ve already been sitting at a table with you for two hours, bananas just put me in a mood.

We could sit down one night, split something nice. But choose wisely. We should probably just skip dessert anyway.


It’s my mother’s own fault that I wear her old clothes, because she refused to get rid of anything just because it was old or out of style or slightly threadbare. If the clothes still fit, you wore them. My sister and I learned not to complain. So the suits she wears to work today, some of them are the exact same ones she wore to work when I was little, and she was a substitute teacher making a wage that I could not even fathom to corral oddly named second graders for a day.

And I never get away with it.

“Is that my shirt?” my sister said one weekend when we had crossed paths at my mother’s house. She followed me through the kitchen, reaching for my neck to look for her faded initials on the tag.

“The one from my class trip in 1987?”

She gets a little burned that my twenty-something frame is crammed into shirts made for the young people of three decades ago, even though I’m twenty pounds over the weight restriction for kids’ size large tee shirts.

And unlike today’s souvenir tee shirts, which I avoid for fear that they will linger in my drawers out of guilt, the old ones are so beautifully nostalgic. An older, wiser woman approached me one day while I was wearing a tee that was probably printed up in 1976.

“Bristol, Pennsylvania,” she murmured as she read across the top of the shirt.

“My hometown,” I said, “Many, many moons ago.”

“Does it still exist?” she asked.

“Barely,” I told her.


“I’ll fill your tank,” he said five times into his flip phone, then estimating how much gas the woman would use to drive from her office to whatever meeting place he had arranged, then back to her office in the morning.

“It’s a perk, I’ll fill your tank.”

And on my typical, awful, three-bus commute, I realized quite abruptly that the man sitting across the aisle from me was talking to his mistress.

The bus may rattle once it achieves a certain speed, but this one was suspiciously quiet.

He asked about the watch he had given her, if her coworkers had asked about it, what she had told them. He smiled like a perv, bit one of his pervy nails.

Every inch of me wanted to rip the phone out of his hands and hurl it out the bus window, to be crushed to smithereens by a hundred Toyotas. All I could do was bury my face in the book I was pretending to read and hope that a pair of headphones would drop from the ceiling like an oxygen mask on a flailing aircraft.

No one ever chooses cheating, to cheat, to be cheated on. It is a practice of euphemisms.

I know you’ve had your share of affairs, but I’m almost certain the only woman you ever loved was your country.

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