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Alexus Trujillo

Alexus Trujillo is a Chicano writer from California. With experience as a fiction editor for collegiate literary magazines Riverrun and Ouroboros, he has developed a discerning eye for storytelling. Currently, a senior pursuing a degree in Creative Writing, Alexus is deeply committed to exploring diverse perspectives and amplifying underrepresented voices through his writing. By crafting compelling narratives, he aims to foster connection and understanding among readers who may not typically be represented. This bio marks an exciting milestone as Alexus embarks on his debut publication. Keep an eye out for his thought-provoking and inclusive work as he emerges as a voice in literature.


The Milagro

Inside, the room was dusty and dry, but there was a shifting and shuffling on the porch. Then came the knock. The grandmother was fast asleep on her ragged  sofa. Two more bangs on the door snapped the snore back into Abuela Chavez’s throat. Novellas blared shut with a click. The elderly woman waddled to the door with a grin. Too short for the peephole, she stuck her bony fingers between the blinds. She swung the door open with all her might, and it crashed against its frame.

“Jesus!” A young blonde girl jumped. “Isabella, your grandma needs to take it easy on the door.”

“Mija!” Abuela Chavez said eagerly with her frail arms held out wide.

“Hi, Grandma,” Isabella replied. She stepped into the hug and felt kisses seep through the top of her hair. “Mama wanted us to pick up her Tupperware and a few tamales for tonight.”

“Ahh, what are you and your Mama doing tonight?” Abuela asked, finally releasing her granddaughter before bolting toward the kitchen.

“I’m having a sleepover with a few friends,” Isabella shouted before her grandmother turned the corner. It was impossible to keep up with her grandmother’s speed and determination. Instead, Isabella led her friend through the old house and down a tiled hallway lined with shelves and a table covered with small trinkets and portraits.

“Ahh, tell your Mama to call me tonight,” the grandmother shouted from the kitchen.

“Hey, Izzy. Um, what are tamalas?” The blonde whispered while she pried into the dusty shelves and picked at the candle wax of a prayer candle for the Virgin of Guadalupe.

“It’s tamales, and they’re like corn husk things. I’m not quite sure. They’re pretty good, though.”

“They don’t have a lot of carbs, do they?” The candle wax of the Virgin Guadalupe coated her sticky fingertips.

“I don’t think so,” Isabella reassured her friend. “Either way, you’ll be fine for a meal or two.”

“Who’s your little friend, Mija?” questioned the abuela amongst her clamoring of pots.

“This is Rebecca, remember? You met her at my quince,” Isabella shouted back from the hallway.

“Hi, Grandma Chavez!” Rebecca answered excitedly. There was no response. Her fingers fiddled with a braided rosary at the base of a picture of an elderly man.

“Is it just you two tonight?” Abuela turned back into the hallway with a stack of steam entrapped in Tupperware. “Tell your Mama, I warmed them up for you too.”

“No, we have one more friend coming. And I don’t think we’ll eat them right away, Grandma,” Isabella said reluctantly, transferring the heated stack of plastic into her arms.

“Hey, Grandma Chavez. What’s this?” Rebecca chimed in. The burgundy tin heart was surprisingly light in her juvenile hands. “It has, like, limbs and skulls on it.”

“Dáme.” With the heart back in her possession, the abuela raised her glasses above her head. Her pupils then fell to the pits of their sockets. “Ahh, this is un milagro. You pray to it, and it’s supposed to grant your prayers, pero…” she warns with a skeletal finger pointing up to the lord, “only pray for what you can repay to the saint.”

“Or else what?” Isabella side-eyed her grandmother.

“Oh, I don’t know. That’s what they say.” The Grandma replied with a hand conjuring circles in the air.

“Does it work, Grandma Chavez?” Rebecca speculated, reaching her hand out to receive the milagro once again.

“If it did, I would still be young and beautiful like you two,” Abuela winked before she ushered them out of the house. “Come on, Mija. Your Mama is waiting for you. You girls, have fun tonight, okay?”


The moonlight casts a sliver of light on the bed that separated the two girls. Isabella held her phone above her face. The white light reflected off her hazel irises. Her fingers carelessly grew lazy until the phone plummeted toward her skull.



“Ugh. I hate when that happens,” Rebecca stated, holding her head up with her fists.


“How does that happen anyway? It’s not like my phone was slippery,” complained Isabella as she rearranged her sheets.


“Hmm, if only something could tell us…”


“Shit, I think it fell under the bed.” Leaning underneath the bed, Isabella rummaged through a valley of shoe boxes to discover her phone resting brightly along the wall. 

“Maligrew, why do our phones slip from our stubby little fingers?” Rebecca pondered aloud. A thud under the bed jerked Rebecca upright. “Better yet, why is Izzy so clumsy?”

Isabella, rubbing the back of her head, winced at her blonde friend. “Please tell me you didn’t steal my grandma’s milagro.”

“You mean this mi-lay-grow?” The dark red heart was foreign in her pale palm. “It’s pretty cool. Plus, it’s not like you can’t just return it to her.”

Isabella readied her eyes narrowly. “You’re a little klepto, you know that?” A knock echoed downstairs, cutting Isabella's wrath into two. “That’s probably Courtney. And FYI: the milagro isn’t some magic 8-ball.”

“I know! It’s so much cooler.” Rebecca grinned, holding the heart above her face.

“Isa! Your friend is here!” The mother alerted below the bedroom.

 “Coming, Mama!” Isabella shouted, still glaring. “Just put it away before you break it.” She trotted down the stairs and swung into the living room.


“Is everything okay up there?” Mama Chavez asked from the couch.


“Everything's fine, Mom,” Isabella remarked, facing the door. She twisted the doorknob to reveal the long-awaited brunette.


“Hi!” Courtney eagerly said. A reply of slumped shoulders told her plenty. “What did Becca do?”


“You’ll see,” Isabella gestured for her friend to join them inside.


“Hi, Mama Chavez!” Courtney waved.


“Hi, Court. Rebecca is upstairs if you want to join her,” Mama Chavez offered, turning away from the television. Isabella was halfway up the stairs with her brunette friend tailing behind her.


“Izzy, what did Becca do?” Courtney whispered before they reached the bedroom door. Isabella barged in to find the bed empty. The two looked at each other with puzzled expressions as the door slammed behind them. Screams blasted out of throats as if desperately trying to break the window to escape.


“Yeah, Izzy. What did Becca do?” The blonde mocked with a grin.


“Oh. My. God. Becca, you scared the shit out of us,” Courtney proclaimed as her breath returned to her soul. Rebecca cackled past them before flopping herself back onto the rumpled bed.


“Wanna make a wish, Court?” Rebecca enticed. The heart’s silver shell appeared shinier under the moonlight.


“What is that?” Courtney asked, dropping her bag beside a small shelf of precarious items.


“It’s my grandmother’s milagro, which she stole, by the way,” Isabella explained before she plopped herself on the floor, crisscrossed.


“I’m gonna give it back. Jeez.” Rebecca hissed, still lying on her back. “I just wanted to mess with it a little more.”


“More?” Isabella questioned unexpectedly.


“How does it work?” Courtney’s hands reached out for the metal trinket.


“It grants wishes, Court,” Rebecca enticed Courtney to feel it again, before she teasingly pulled the heart away from Courtney’s fingers. “And I’m going to wish for big boobs.” Laughing, she tossed the heart to Courtney.


Courtney rubbed the smooth silver charms of skulls and limbs that riddled the heart. Then she notes things she, too, would want to be different. Holding the heart closer to her chest, she shuts her eyes. “I wish Raymond in Pre-Calc liked me.”


“Careful, Court, he might only like you,”


“Well, in that case, I wish he’s obsessively in love with me,” she said as she cocked her head to Rebecca.


“That’s not how it works; it’s supposed to answer prayers,” Isabella remarked, still sitting on the floor, fully exasperated.


“Then I pray for Raymond to like me.”


“Yeah, and me with huge breasts.” Rebecca sarcastically chimed.


“To a saint, not just in general,” Isabella stated as her face grew heavy from betrayal.


“I could just google another saint,” Rebecca suggested waving her phone like a pack of cigarettes.


“Another?” Isabella questioned.


“It’s okay, Izzy; I made sure to wish for something small.”

“Becca!” Isabella exclaimed as she snatched the heart away.

“What? It’s not like it’s going to come true.”

“What did you wish for?”

“Doesn’t that defeat the point if I tell you?”

“God, I pray for the day you just stay out of people’s shit!”

“Woah! Where the hell did that come from?” Rebecca replied defensively, recollecting every misdeed her friend ever did. The silent tension molded the air.

“Izzy, your hand,” Courtney stated somberly. She hurried off the bed and cupped her hands under Isabella’s. The tin heart was in pieces between Isabella’s fingers; its empty core exposed rusty sharp metal slivers that collected with her blood.

“Fuck,” Isabella mumbled in shock at her heart. Courtney guided her out of the bedroom and into the bathroom.

“What happened?” Courtney shoved Isabella's hands under the faucet.

Isabella stared at her unfamiliar reflection. “I’m not sure...” An old Hello Kitty Band-Aid dammed the blood from oozing out of her palm. The tap water rinsed the shiny tin pieces clean as a knock reverberated from downstairs.

“Are you expecting someone?” Courtney questioned as she turned off the faucet. Another knock blasted on the front door.

“I don’t think so…” In the hallway, Isabella could see Rebecca was unmoved, sitting in the dark room. A barrage of knocks rained outside.

“Hijole! I’m coming! I’m coming!” Mama Chavez exclaimed as she paced to the door. Peering through the peephole, she settled on the balls of her feet. “Bella, did you invite a boy?”

“No, Mom,” Isabella assured, witnessing the assault on the door from upstairs. The mother let the door crack open slightly.

“Is Courtney here?” a shallow voice asked through the gap.

“Court?” Mama Chavez called. Courtney shared a burrowed expression with Isabella before wearyingly taking steps down the stairs as if they would be her last. “Do you know this gentleman?”


“Ray?” Courtney said in disbelief. “What are you doing here?”

Isabella’s palms bled with sweat. She glanced back to her bedroom. Rebecca, again, only stared back. Maintaining the connection between their eyes, Isabella warned: “Mama, don’t let him in.”

The words triggered sheer panic in the boy. He wedged his foot between the door and the frame while his hands held the door away from his face. “Courtney, I didn’t know where you were. I was worried about you. I needed to make sure you were okay.”

The young boy’s strength was nothing to the mother’s as she muscled the door closed. She immediately turned every lock. The two Chavez women’s attention fell on the paralyzed brunette before them. Mama Chavez hugged the terrified girl and rubbed her shoulders. “It’s okay.”

Courtney slowly shifted her eyes to Isabella. “The heart,” she mouthed between the caring arms around her head.

Isabella, with a heavy chest, rushed upstairs. The bathroom light displayed the tin fragments in the sink as she bulleted to the bedroom. Only Rebecca’s eyes followed Isabella's movements. Isabella, kneeling before the bed, rested a palm on the blonde’s knee. “Becca, I need you to tell me what you wished for.” Silence again staled the air. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you. I’m really sorry if I said anything, but Raymond just showed up looking for Court, so I need to know what you wished for.”

“This doesn’t concern me,” Rebecca stated simply.

“Becca, I’m sorry. Okay?” Isabella lifted her hand off Rebecca’s jeans. “This does concern you; this is for your safety.”

Rebecca leaned in until her mouth was flush against Isabella’s ear. “This is your shit.” The words heavied Isabella’s heart. Rebecca slowly leaned back to her sitting position, staring curiously at Isabella’s distraught.

“Court!” Isabella yelled. In the flash of an instant, Courtney returned to the bedroom. She watched her every step as if it might have been her last. “Do you remember what I said before we left?”

“Not really, just something about Becca staying out of things,” Courtney recalled approaching the still blonde and her black clothing.

“Yeah, I might’ve done this to her,” Isabella pondered with a bandaged hand to her temple.

“What do you mean?”

“She won’t tell me anything,”

“Becca, is everything okay?” Courtney caringly inquired as she placed a hand on Rebecca’s shoulder. Rebecca only mirrored her cocked head.

“Isabella!” Mama Chavez had summoned from the land beneath them.

“Fuck, I forgot about my mom. Um, stay with Becca. I’ll try to explain this to her somehow.”

“Isabella, are the girls okay? Where’s Becca? I haven’t seen her since you two went upstairs.” Mama Chavez severely questioned Isabella as she made her way down the stairs.

“I think Becca will be fine for now. I think they’re a bit startled, but I need to tell-”

“Was that boy Court’s boyfriend? I feel like I should be calling the cops,”

“Mama, do you know anything about grandma’s milagro?”

“Her what? Isa, I don’t understand what this has to do with…”

“Mom, listen. We took the milagro from grandma’s house, and it seems like it’s answering our prayers.”

“You girls wished for this to happen? Where is it now?”

“No, of course not. It broke; it’s in the bathroom sink.” Isabella reassured falsely. At that moment, a screech blared from the heavens above. The two Chavez women scaled the stairs quickly, running past a now open window in the bathroom. They were unknowingly following Ray’s path past the empty bathroom sink that held the sharp fragments of the heart into the adolescent’s room.

Rebecca stared blankly at the burgundy pool staining the wooden floor. Courtney lay in the boy’s arms, her body limp and fatally wounded. The tin shard glistened in the moonlight of the boy’s red fingers. His tears pooled in a murky lake underneath him.

“You made me do this! I only wanted to be with her. Why would you take her away from me?” Ray exclaimed to the women, who still possessed their beating hearts. “We need to be together, always...” With a decisive self-inflicting strike with the broken heart, the boy fell with his love.                                                   



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