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  • Isabel L. Magaña

Love So Sweet

It is the year 2050 and the heat has far surpassed 400 kelvins, this is far past ridiculous and unbearable. This heat has been causing our bodies of water to expand, leading to sea level rise; nonetheless, this heat has also been disposing of our glaciers on neighborhoods, creating the massive floods that now seem to be pervasive. Even the adorable Devils Hole Pupfish have realized these conditions are unbearable, for they have slowly vanished from their home I used to frequent, Salt Creek. How is the population so complacent with the route our Earth has been put onto? Efforts must be taken to save our beloved home.

Earlier today, my father had pleaded, “Son, please stop writing. I don’t want to have to

ask you again. You know better than to be writing!” As he pleaded, little bulbs of sweat were forming at the top of his forehead, clinging onto the curls adorning his face before sliding off as a result of gravity. Dull clinks from his heeled shoes had echoed as he anxiously paced back and forth on the cement floor of my bedroom, waiting for me to comply.

The only response I had been able to formulate at the time rushed out of my mouth

without a second thought, “I am sorry, it’s just that writing about our Earth is my passion. I feel happy when I write, I don’t think I can describe how happy writing makes me.” I had let out a sigh and shifted my gaze from my father’s pacing feet to the torn up wallpaper plastered onto the walls. I justified why I thought I could do it, “To be fair, I have completed the majority of the housework and there is nothing left to do. Please let me write, no one is around to see!” I was so darn comfortable in my sweatpants, living life freely as my words cheerfully swam across the paper in harmony. Oh how I wish we could all in this world live in harmony! So foolish of me to even think it, indeed heavily absurd!

After a couple hours I put down my pen and pencil, I peeked out the crevices in the

blinds and captured such frightful yet stunning scenes, females fighting each other, climbing trees, swimming far distances in the field training area. It’s amazing how strong females are in order to be conducting all those activities, as a male I couldn’t even think to partake. Doing all of that would be extremely uncomfortable in my long skirt and excessive garments! I watched open-mouthed as a dent was left in a wall after a single punch, blood trickled down the knuckles of the provider. Oh my! These females do hold quite a rage...

Sometimes I do have the silliest dreams, my wife and I being a team in this crumbling Earth, but she is far too important and busy for such foolish things...

At noon, I found myself at the grocery store, my family’s weekly ration of food had run out and dinner time was around the corner. The employee running the register asked me how many people there were in my household. I answered him proudly with “We are a beautiful family of four.” He gave me a weird stare and handed me a bundle of produce.

Exiting the store, I looked around. There were no families. There were only males like

me, alone, picking up the weekly ration. My family is beautiful, they just cannot accompany me everywhere I go because they have a duty to fulfill. Everyone’s family is beautiful, they just have duties to fulfill, like mine.

Walking down the streets, I noticed that they were lovelier today than they were

yesterday due to the poppies. Our California Poppies are finally beginning to poke their heads out of the cracked soil. The soil in most places is so dry and nutrient depleted that our seeds don’t survive. A single poppy on my dinner table would be so lovely. A flower in my household would emanate the purest and softest smelling air. The scratched yellow wallpaper clinging to the walls would experience a transition from dull to vibrant. My home would resemble those cozy homes that are shown in old magazines.

Upon arrival home, I came to a realization: As I swing the doors open everyday, I am not immediately overwhelmed by the scents of flowers and the smiles of my family. Instead I am the one to overwhelm my home with my breath and the scents of the wilted produce cradled in my arms.

Dinner time was arriving and I began cooking for my family. Dinner is the only time of

the day that I look forward to because that is when my family comes home from their duty. As I began setting the table, I placed the bigger plates for my wife and daughter as usual. Such admirable hard work they do all day, but the strength they put into their work is not to be compared to their greatest strength: giving rise to progeny.

The daily magazines were sprawled over the table, the header of my magazine so lively read, “86,000 Stillbirths in 2049, What Can We Expect By the End of This Year?”. I carefully removed the magazines from the table and placed them in the junk drawer. Our exposure to radiation along with the lack of cleanliness of the products we are consuming are causing so many stillbirths and miscarriages; therefore, all we could do for our females was provide them with the most nutrients.

The aroma of the food began escaping and brought everyone in; we all sat down and said our prayers. “How was your day?” I asked them all. My father looked at me and stood quiet. My wife opened her mouth to speak, “Don’t be silly, you know exactly how our day was. The usual, we trained until exhaustion. What did you do besides cooking?” I couldn’t help the excitement I felt at the time, I don’t usually have conversations with my wife. My excitement was reflected through my response, I sounded as eager and brainless as a child, “Well, I went to the grocery store to pick up our food ration. I had a lovely conversation with the employee running the register, such a kind person. On the way home, I observed the garden beds and I think that there is hope for the poppies!” I couldn’t help but have a smile creep up on my face, for my family in its entirety was sitting at the table eating. It felt like the harmony that only existed in my dreams...

To my disappointment, my harmony did not last. Loud, cracking sounds came from the windows followed by intricate snowflake designs that spread through the glass. The windows of my home shattered, and shards of glass were flying. Projected in my head were the recurring stories that I had seen on the news. Before I could begin to feel the pain of the glass penetrating my cheeks and arms, water gushed through the window and struck my side, knocking me over. A map of the ocean had flashed in my eyes, the red arrows plastered in the direction of the predicted ocean currents. A thick, white swirl. The ruins. The updated number of deaths. The entirety of the cement floor was suffocated under various dense layers of salty water. I was drowning. I am drowning.

All at once my daughter and wife had repeated, “Don’t exaggerate your injuries, get up”. But I did not have the strength that they did. I looked at them, their faces embroidered with bulbs of embarrassment and petals of pity as I struggled to get my head above the water. I felt as if they didn’t comprehend that I needed help, that I couldn’t do this by myself.

“I cannot get up, please help me!”, I managed to whimper before I felt myself fading into the vast darkness of unconsciousness. They didn't understand me... they did not want to understand me...I let my body go limp and voluntarily closed my eyes before my body shut them for me. I decide when my eyes close. It is my decision.

The broken windows exposed me to thick rays of light whose mission was to pounce on my face, even until after my eyes had opened. All I saw were the walls of my room, but this time the wallpaper was completely gone. My life was back to normal, for the most part. My mind was awake, but my body was asleep.

The door had creaked open, and my father's head swung around to see if I was awake. He excitedly came up to me and thanked God for having saved my life. The ends of my blanket got smoothed by my father’s gentle hands as he plopped himself on the edge of the bed and stared at me. His eyes were full of admiration and anger. His posture was straighter than it should've been, appearing a bit frightful. He began to speak to me, “Son, you are all I got, I cannot even begin to imagine life without your sweet company.” He got up from his edge, came closer to me, and gave me a pat on the back, “I want you to know that your story has been heard, and what happened to you yesterday is not out of the ordinary. Our whole population of males claims to have suffered emotionally and physically the way you have, myself included. There is no valid reason for us to be disregarded and mistreated by our female counterparts. Son, our stories as a collective are only beginning to come out because yours went public...”

The information he disclosed shocked me to the point where I jumped up from the bed, I ignored the extreme body aches that began kicking in and stood over him, “How were you able to know all of this, discretion is key! Do you mean that you as well as many others endangered themselves by breaking one of our rules?” Fearfully, my eyes scoured every corner of the room to verify that we were alone.

“Yes. We cannot take this anymore. For years there has been a clear line between us

males and females; they get the better of life. While we rot away at home, they adventure and become more capable than us. In times of natural disasters and catastrophes we are the ones that get wiped out, we do not possess survival skills. We lack training. Females possess more strength because the majority of our food is meant for them. Our long and excessive garments make it even more difficult for any escapatory movement. We are incompetent, but not by choice. Can you believe it? While we rot away at home, they undergo training to ensure their own survival!”

“I wish we could all be living in harmony as equals”, I had managed to croak. The

thought of drowning and helplessly being stared at crossed my mind. “No. We must rise,

harmony was wished for but now we need revenge. We are capable of being better than them.”

I took a pause, for I was extremely malnourished and tired. This shouldn’t have

happened, this was and is an injustice. We need to bring them down. All I wanted was to

helplessly stare at my family as they faced death, just as they’d done to me.

A new day arrived at my doorstep. I knew what I had to do. I ordered my father to feed me so that I could regain the little strength that I had before. I went out to my wilting garden and picked some poisonous berries along with some healthy sweet berries. The increasing temperatures and water shortages have led to excessively dangerous hydrogen cyanide and nitrate storage in some of my berry plants, making them toxic. As I was picking, the most natural thought was generated in my mind. My choice of berries is exactly how females are made, deceitfully poisonous with a hint of sweet.

I began mashing the berries altogether and baked the most savory pie, the secret

ingredient being as always tons of love. This love was not in any way directed toward my family, well actually I love my family for allowing my new self to rise from the ashes. This love, the most purest love I had ever felt, was toward myself and the new life I was about to grant the males of the nation.

The window of the oven glowed as the pie became crisp. I squatted anxiously and stared at it for an entire hour, chuckling to myself as the pie went from pale to golden. My most cherished delicacy was ready as the oven light turned off. My excitement surpassed my consciousness, I reached for the steaming pie and clutched it. The intensity of the heat seared through my palms creating blisters; nonetheless, I carefully placed the pie on the counter.

I gently kissed the top of the pie, its round golden cheeks glowed as clouds of steam rose from its face. Such a sweet and delicate child I had brought to life. I looked out the front door as it swung open. I saw my family gracefully skipping into the room, surrounded by angelic clouds, with impressively wide smiles.

I had all the reasons to feel swift, “How was your day?”, I happily asked.

They sensed something quite odd from me, for they stared at me for a good couple of

seconds before responding to my polite question. They spoke at me, but all I heard was fading nonsense in the background, my task of slicing the pie was far more important than what they had to say.

I had never noticed how identical the locks of their hair was. Such shiny locks of hair. A shade of brown so dark that it appeared black, if you did not look closely. Skin so tan from overexposure to sunlight. Skin so damaged from the sun. Beautiful big brown eyes decorated by thick eyelashes. Strong arms. Chalky knuckles. Perfect wrist movement. Moderately strong grips for the forks that they were going to use.

The clinks of the porcelain plates had echoed so, very loudly when I placed them on the table. The screeches of the silverware across the plates had been undoubtedly majestic. The crunch of the pie in between their teeth plastered a wide smile on my face. I leaned closer, slanting towards them to admire their existence for the last time. They were so busy chattering amongst themselves to even notice how attentively I was staring at them. I finally got up and offered some milk to help them gulp down the sweetness of the pie. The milk slathered down their throats cleaning their mouths of the berry poison and dragging it down, deep within their bodies.

By Isabel L. Magaña

Isabel is a biology student at UCI who is passionate about creative writing and global sustainability. She grew up in Santa Cruz where she fell in love with nature and environmentally friendly practices.

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Arthur Shawcross
Arthur Shawcross
May 27, 2021

I really liked how grey-on-grey this was. Usually, pieces of fiction with any sort of political topic are devoid of nuance, but I feel like good fiction about gender politics needs to recognize and address the difficulties of both gender roles, which you do very nicely.

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