Literary Orphans

Math for the Self-Crippling by Ursula Villarreal-Moura


When my day is irrevocably ruined, I drive by my childhood house. Painted evergreen

and cream, the exterior has shifted faces like waves have rearranged coastal sands.


To maim myself, I pretend this address is still mine. This is the plot of land where I

learned to read, where my mother tripped down thirty stairs, where my parents

and I sang happy birthday three times a year, where my father cursed

our debt. This is where I hold on like a Doberman to a museum of us.


The tunnel of my teens could not fathom strangers gathered around our

fireplace, other legs climbing our stairs,  children scowling into our

bathroom mirrors.  An anonymous family mimes their life through open curtains.


Projections of the unfamiliar return me to the driver’s seat.

This house never taught me to let go. My parents and I are still

singing, reading, screaming, memorizing, falling. We have not yet

unhung the photos from the walls or ripped the sheets off

the beds. I am still hunched over the dinner table, fretting over math.

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Ursula Villarreal-Moura‘s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Washington Square, CutBank, The Weekly Rumpus, New South, DOGZPLOT, NANO Fiction, Gargoyle, and other journals. She is at work on a novel-in-stories and tweets at @Ursulaofthebook.

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–Art by Karamelo

–Art by Mariya Petrova-Existencia

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