juan avila conejo

The Word That Must Not Be Said

Let me tell you a little about myself. You already know my name, but you might not know I come from Costa Rica, a country with a very different culture than that of the United States. Even though we have people of varying appearances and backgrounds, I have never been asked to identify myself racially or ethnically. We have what you would call whites, blacks, Asians, and of course Latinos, but in Costa Rica, we are all people of the same nation—we do not separate groups based on this category alone.

Why War Needs Intimacy

We were holding each other’s bodies, feeling each other’s heavy breath, counting each other’s quickening pulse. His skin was hot and slippery to the touch, as we were both drenched in sweat. The aroma of burning flesh filled my nostrils. I could see his dilated pupils. Torn pieces of clothing lay all around us. Our fray, illuminated by the fires, began. I hugged him under his right arm and over his left shoulder and pulled with all of my strength, fighting to stay on top. I pushed down with my shoulder pressed against his jaw. He began to scream and his screams muffled the clatter of his skull beginning to break under pressure. I will never forget the horror on his face when he understood his life was about to end. Suddenly his palate gave in, his skull shattered. I cannot tell how long our macabre communion lasted, but I know that at the end I had been spared. I was alive and my enemy was dead.