Lola believed in heaven, maybe because she prayed and went to Sunday Mass all her life, but she believed she was invited there. I never paid much attention in church. Still, I prayed that I would be invited, too. I was sure Lola would make it to heaven after she died, but I was still afraid to exist on Earth without her. The other night, I woke up in cold sweat praying that she would live forever. I was so swamped with anguish that I could choke on it. When I called Lola, she instructed me to look at the moon. And so the stars revealed themselves one by one and there it was—the moon. If something should be called holy, this is it. Are you looking na? she said. Yes Lola, I'm looking, I said. Good, now listen to me, anak. We are looking at the same moon, and we will always look at the same moon, no matter where I am. Struck by a yearning so deep, that from here on out, I am no longer able to see the moon, no longer able to say goodnight, without thinking of Lola. Before hanging up, Lola reminded me never to fear death, because one day, we will meet again in heaven. I asked her, Can we meet on the moon instead?
About the Author
Alex Romero (25) is a native of Queens, New York. After earning his BA from Sarah Lawrence College, he taught English in a fishing village in the northwest of France. In 2022, he was awarded the Matt Leone Fellowship at Colgate University. He is a 2023 Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Voices Fellow. His short story, “Our Little Manila,” was selected by Tia Clark as a finalist for the Plentitudes Prize in Fiction. He was also long-listed for Uncharted Magazine’s Novel Excerpt Contest. His short fiction, essays, and poetry appear or are forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys, Maudlin House, Mister Magazine, BULLSHIT LIT, Treehouse Literary Review, and The Coachella Review, among other publications. A former reader for Taco Bell Quarterly, he is a staff writer for Surging Tide Magazine. He has received support from Tin House, the Southampton Writers’ Conference, the Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation, Key West Literary Seminar, the Jane Hoppen Residency at Paragraph, the de Groot Foundation, the Unterberg Poetry Center, and more. He is completing his MFA in creative writing at Columbia University, where he was appointed as a Chair’s Fellow. He is at work on a short story collection. He lives in New York City.