Cousin got whipped with the watering hose in the backyard so the neighbors couldn’t see. Uncle when catch her kissing one girl in town. He looped the hose and beat her over and over, slower than the sun beating her ehu hair into a matted mess on her scalp. I no get one lesbian for one daughter. You neva goin see that girl again. You goin to church. You goin for pray. Each sentence a looped mark on her naked skin as he pulled her pants down and she tried to cover herself, crying and pleading. No please. I not one lesbian. I neva like kiss her. The heavy smack of that green snake shimmering in the sun, empty of water and engorged with hate, filled the yard as we cousins and sisters watched Uncle, his red browned skin and salty peppery hair, his fisherman’s arms, teach us that it’s better to lie and to not be beaten and to suffer the drowning beneath the waves of beer and cigarette breathed fathers and uncles and cousins and brothers, our flesh torn by coral lined rocks as we tumble and toss, submitting to their little deaths, than to ever love one girl.


Melissa Llanes Brownlee is a Native Hawaiian writer. She received her MFA in Fiction from UNLV. Her work has appeared in Booth: A Journal, The Notre Dame Review, Pleiades, The Citron Review and elsewhere. She was a finalist for the 2018 New American Fiction Prize and the 2019 Brighthorse Prize.


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