A Man I Used to Know

Victoria Buitron


Four coins in the cave of his ear stayed put whenever he struck wood, climbed a ladder, picked coconuts with knuckles tattooed—fresh wrinkles in waning ink. The train of change shimmered when the sun hit his face just right, presents from me, all from my lone trips. No straw hats or key chains or coral-magnetic fridge decor. No flights for him. All he wanted was to feel copper and nickel on his skin. The coins held even when he used fingers and soles to climb trees. Machete to bark and then feeding me slices of peach. Still, I wanted him to leave with me after too many snakes hid in the warmth of our sheets. I didn’t ask, but posed it in the way I cradled his head when it rained so hard the garden limes died and his bones ached. He’d never leave the dirt he learned to ride a bike on with his blood seeped in its fissures. He kept the worthless souvenirs, and I took one last glance from the taxi in the heavy heat—he on the porch we built—his ear almost a mirror, a silver-blacked hole I couldn’t recognize us in. He still wanders in my dreams at times, now and then where coins were lodged moths are born fluttering. Last I heard he lost an index finger, sells lumber, obsolete currency still touching skin: sucres, francs, ekweles. Bygone eras, memories of me, always chiming in his ear.


Victoria Buitron is a writer who hails from Ecuador and resides in Connecticut. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Normal SchoolSmokeLong en EspañolThe Acentos Review, and other literary magazines. Her flash fiction has been chosen for 2022’s Best Small Fictions & Wigleaf’s Top 50. Her debut memoir-in-essays, A Body Across Two Hemispheres, is the 2021 Fairfield Book Prize winner and available wherever books are sold.



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