Literary Orphans

Where Did Your Long Hair Go? by Alejandro Vasquez

Paradise-21

I dismiss the 10:30 alarm. Its electric guitar shredding already got me a half-hour ago. I tap the clock app, turn off the next three alarms, and return to scrolling on Facebook.

Earlier, I was reading text posts written by friends about getting stuck in traffic on the way to class, burning their tongues by drinking coffee too quickly, finishing homework at the last minute. Now, all I’m seeing are cute dog videos, “that moment when” reaction pictures with bad CG cartoon faces, and clickbait headlines about what the president did this time, all shared by people I met once, years ago. My stomach grumbles, my eyes droop, and my head sinks deeper into the pillow. I keep moving down the stream of text and images.

On the top-right corner, the notifications icon flashes. I click it and see a message: “You have some memories today.”

Oh, this should be good.

Two years ago today, I wrote, “I know procrastination is bad, but when you think about it, isn’t life just a procrastination … from death?”

Eh.

I scroll down one year and see a news article I’d shared about National Guardsmen in Venezuela shooting civilians suspected of protesting.

That did happen, didn’t it.

I scroll down to five years ago, and I find a picture of Leo and me.

I’m on the left, sporting that classic, horrible Jewfro, wearing glasses and my old Black Parade T-shirt. Leo’s on the right, with a light green button-up, spiked-up hair, and Valentine-red braces. We’re both grinning like idiots. He took and shared the picture with the caption “Just showed Felix the magic of Pet Sounds! He LIKED it!!”

We’d gone to his house that day to work on a project about the Civil War. At some point when I was typing my part of the report, he got bored waiting for his turn, picked up his guitar from the corner, and fiddled around with it. Then he softly strummed a few chords and started mumbling lyrics to himself. I made out something that sounded like “long hair.” His eyes were closed and his legs were crossed, as if he were meditating. I asked him if he wrote that himself.

He stopped playing and stared at me. “It’s ‘Caroline, No’ … Have you not heard Pet Sounds? The Beach Boys?” My answer wasn’t immediate enough, so Leo ran to his closet, pulled out a massive speaker, hooked up his iPod, and told me to stop working and sit with him. That’s how he introduced me to my favorite album five years ago.

I haven’t listened to it in almost a year. Not since that song he was playing on his guitar replayed in my head, over and over, throughout the whole service.

In a few days, it’ll be exactly one year since Leo shot himself. I’m sure some of our friends will share the Facebook posts they wrote on that day. A few days after that, it’ll be one year since I managed to write a post about it myself. I might share it, too. I’m sure his mom will remind us all of the day his funeral happened.

I know the song will be playing in my head. I can hear it right now. I can see Leo’s look of concentration as he tries to play it right, sitting in the corner of his room, neither of us aware of what would happen to him or able to do anything about it.

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Alejandro Jose Vasquez graduated summa cum laude from Florida State University with a BA in Creative Writing. In 2015 he won Southbank Centre’s short fiction contest Story SLAM Live!, and his original news articles have been featured on Uloop and Trill! Magazine. Alejandro currently lives in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Alejandro Vasquez picture

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–Foreground Art by Milton G. (Paradise Found)

–Background Art by Xavier (abstrkt.ch)