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A Slow Burn

By Yami Ayala All Rights Reserved ©


Chapter 1


I know. I get it. Being twenty years old and having a diary or journal or whatever you call it, is not normal. I don’t care. I’ve been writing in this thing for the past two years because I need to vent and today was a day I really needed to.

My boyfriend was in town. He moved to California since he earned scholarships to study graphic design after winning contests. I accepted it. It was his dream and told him to go for it. When he came by, I decided to use my relatively good cooking skills to show him how much I missed him. Cue the doorbell ringing, the smell of my Spanish rice in the air, my mother telling me to go answer the door.

So I did. I go up to the door and I let him in.

“Angel!” I giggled and hugged him. He was always a heavy set guy since we met each other in high school. I didn’t mind. I was never shallow. He looked tired and patted me on the head. We gave each other a quick peck before I let him in.

“Hey mijo how are you doing?” My father Abel said, resting on the couch, drinking a beer, and being lazy as he does all Sundays. Angel gave him a quick wave. My mother was sleeping due to her schedule of waking up at two am to go to work. My brother Carlos was at his computer, his gaming headphones disconnecting him from reality.

“Hey…” Angel stopped me.

“Oh do you want to eat? I made some Spanish rice and I’m going to get started on the milanesas and-“

“No seriously, we need to talk.” He said. The dreaded words that everyone hates to hear. I felt a stone drop in my stomach.

“Ok.” I nodded. He went up to the door again and led me by the hand. We went out of the house. The hot wind blew in our faces even though the sun was starting to set. The heat in Las Vegas never really gave out until late October. Angel leaned against the wall and rubbed my knuckles. “Angel?”

“School is ok?” He asked. I nodded.

“It’s fine. It’s not one of those fancy cooking schools but, hey, at least I don’t have to pay anything as long as my G.P.A. stays the same.” I shrugged. He gave me a small smile. “Is there something wrong?”

“A little? No, a lot actually…I’ve been swamped with work and it’s getting harder to come by here. There’s the five hour drive then just staying for a few days and then leaving.” Angel said.

“We’ve only done it when college lets out. It’s not like I’m begging you to come by every single weekend.” I chuckled.

“Yeah I know…” He sighed and let go of my hand. “Look…I’m just going to say it. I’m breaking up with you.”

We met each other as high school got out. We spent a good three months together before he left for California. I tried my best to support him even with the long distance. I didn’t get angry when I saw him partying or semi-flirt with the girls on his Facebook. I handled my possessiveness and my jealousy and never bogged him down with my insecurities.

This was the result.

“Ok.” I said.

“What that’s it?” He wondered. I shrugged my shoulders.

“You’re right. You live five hours out and I can’t be bothering you if you really have all that work. This is your dream college and your dream overall. If I’m getting in the way of everything, then fine.” I said, shrugging all the while not trying to let out my emotions. I thought this was the mature way of doing things.

Apparently not.

“This is why I want to break up in the first place. You’re too nice about everything, you never ask, you never plead, you never cry to have me or anything! You’re like an emotionless doll!” He raised his voice. I bit my lip. That hurt. I saw that he was looking for a response. One that I couldn’t give to him. “Whatever. I’m leaving.”

So yeah, that was the fourth boyfriend I couldn’t keep.

Great night huh? At least the food was good.


“That was it? Really? That douchebag!” My friend Jennifer said. We were on break in between classes. We’ve known each other for two years. She was prettier than I was. Taller, thinner, had a very pleasant face unlike me who was shorter, stockier, and ok lips.

“Yeah.” I shrugged as we sat in the quad eating the leftover food from our cooking class. It was the only good thing about it, freebies, yum. I drank the watered down lemonade and cursed the heat again. Damn you desert!

“You didn’t deserve a jerk like that anyway. All that talk about ‘Distance only makes the heart grow fonder?’ What a load of crap!” Jennifer said. I nodded along. It hurt still but I already cried my two years in the last two nights. “All that time, all that support, all those stupid promises? What a load of bull.”

“Ok Jen, enough with the smack talk, how about some love and hugs instead?” I asked, putting out my arms. She laughed and I nuzzled into her bosom. “Ah yes, I can feel all my problems slip away!” I giggled. She laughed and pinched my cheek. There were rumors we were dating considering we were always so touchy-feely with each other. We rolled with it. It kept the creepers off her at least.

“Don’t worry about it. Who knows? Maybe there could be someone else around the corner.” Jennifer said, running her fingers through my short, dark brown hair.

“Nah. Enough about love, you know what? I’m going to focus on me. That’s it. No more relationships. I’ve been jumping on boyfriend after boyfriend since I was sixteen. I need me time now.” I said, letting her go and finishing my leftovers.

“Yeah! We don’t need no men! Girl power! In the name of the moon!” We both laughed our butts off. “But seriously, if you need to go somewhere to vent or be away from home, you can always come by.” She said, patting my shoulder.

“Thanks. Now let’s go inside and get cool, it’s frigging hot out here!”


“A late transfer in your restaurant class?” I wondered, eating some cold ice cream. Jen nodded as she got her own from the shop next to the University.

“Yeah. It seems that he came in from out of town. We hit it off actually. He’s such a huge nerd and a gamer.” Jennifer described him to me. We were both like that, anime, manga, vidya games? All us.

“Huh, already creeping?” I chuckled. Love cookies and cream.

“No. He’s not my type.” She shrugged her shoulders. Her type was tall, skinny or fit, and white that also likes the same things she likes who also has a jerkish side. No wonder she couldn’t find anyone. “But he did invite me to this awesome comic book shop. I was thinking of maybe going with him but I asked him if I can bring a friend. He said sure. What about it? You haven’t really left the house at all.”

It’s not like I couldn’t drive but I didn’t go out of my way to get out. Even with my brother and dad fighting all the time, the heat kept me inside.

“Sure, I’ll go.” I ate my waffle cone as the ice cream melted on my hand and dropped to the ground. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the hot wind continued to blow. The earth kept on moving even if my heart was semi-broken.


“Aw dang it! Did I make a wrong turn?” Jennifer said as I turned the vents in her car to my face. I was wearing my video game t-shirt, some flare jeans, and my favorite white tennis shoes. I looked at my phone again.

“It should be in this market.” I said. She made a left turn and we pulled into the parking place. I opened the car door and the hot wind blew again with a hint of humidity. It was supposed to rain this week.

“Look there it is! Follow the windows with all the comics!” Jennifer said, grabbing my hand. She took out her phone and started to text the dude. I opened the door and sniffed the familiar smells of comic books. I looked around. There was the cashier who nodded to us, reading his own thing and two other guys that I didn’t recognize. “Well, he’s on his way just pulling up actually. Oh yeah! Manga!” Jennifer giggled as she went to the shelf that had it. I saw a few volumes that I didn’t have before hearing the ding the door made to announce a new person.

He was tall, with a scruffy goatee, wavy hair, glasses, and heavy set with stocky shoulders. Yep, definitely not Jen’s type. She looked over and waved.

“Hey Louis.” She said, going up to him and giving him a friendly side hug. “Louis, Yesenia, Yesenia, Louis.”

“Hi.” I waved.

“Oh hey.” He had a minor deep voice.

“This is a nice place you found.” Jen said.

“Yeah I used to come around here when I lived here. I’m surprised this place is still bumping!” He chuckled. I went through the shelves again, looking for anything to peak my interest. Then I heard him imitating voices.

“Adrian!” Louis shouted and started to recite a perfect imitation of a movie I recently watched. Jennifer chuckled while I busted out laughing.

“Whoa! That’s awesome! How do you do that?” I asked. He rubbed the back of his head.

“I don’t know, I kinda think about it and do it.”

“You need to hear his terminator voice. Go on, do it!” Jennifer urged. He did it. I never laughed so much in a day for who knows when.


“Ok so how about this show?” I asked, going through a streaming device as Jennifer, Louis, and I sat in his decked room with scrolls, posters, and nerd stuff up the wazoo.

“Nah, that looks like a girly one. Oh the one next to it!” Louis said. I picked up and I sat in the computer chair while Jen and Louis sat in the bed. It was a small room but that was something he had to live with when moving back into your parents. Recession was no Bueno around this time. It was the reason he moved back to Vegas. He couldn’t afford his own home with the high interest.

“Oh man! Did you see that attack!? He was like ‘woosh’ and ‘slice!’” I laughed as we ordered some pizza, getting out of the room for a little.

“That was awesome and the guy? Super hot.” Jennifer laughed. Louis chuckled as he did a reenactment of the scene. We all laughed. Jennifer took out her phone and groaned.

“Ah! Looks like I have to pick up my brother from his work. His car ate it again.” Jennifer sighed.

“We can always hang out later.” I shrugged.

“I know. Looks like you two are going to eat my share of pizza. See you later bestie!” Jen kissed me on the cheek before heading out. Louis gave me a look.

“Are you two…?”

“No.” I laughed. “We’re just like that. We both come from very physical families. Come on! I want to finish the next episode!”


He had a kid. I didn’t know until his mom came by and had her dressed up in a pumpkin costume. I also didn’t know he was six years older than me. He invited me out to at least see her. I agreed if only to get out of the house again.

“She’s so fat!” I laughed as she wobbled around, trying to crawl in her costume.

“Such a juicy baby!” He cooed as he picked her up. “She’s going to be turning one in December.”

“You never told me how you had her.” I asked. His parents were out and we were in hanging out alone.

“A lot of baby mama drama. First we were never in a real relationship. Then she was doing it with three other guys, plus my best friend. Then she got knocked up, didn’t know who the dad was. I was really sprung on her and tagged along for the whole pregnancy. Turns out, it was my kid after testing. She got caught with some hard drugs and, after a really long battle, finally she surrendered her to me. Sorry, I didn’t tell you.” Louis explained.

“No! I can see why but now you have her all the time. She looks just like you. She’s beautiful.” I said. Louis cleared his throat and his eyes were misty. I noticed then that his eyes were a warm honey color. They looked pretty.

“Thank you.”


“Happy Birthday! Sorry that Jen couldn’t come.” Louis apologized.

“Nah, it’s ok. She has her own life to live you know? We can’t be together all the time.” I shrugged, playing with Alice on Louis’ bed. His phone rang and he went to go answer it.

“Hello? Oh hey! I…no…oh you need them right now? Hold on. I’ll go open the door for you right now.” Louis went to go get his backpack and took out some notes. “I got a friend downstairs.” He said. He left. I got curious and picked up Alice and went down the stairs. I looked down the railing and saw a girl at the door. She giggled and kissed him on the cheek. I felt a pang of jealousy in my heart and got confused.

He’s my friend. I have never thought him as anything but so why does it bother me that another girl kissed his cheek? I went back into the room and let Alice wander. My mind kept on replaying that scene before he came up and he apologized for making me wait.

“No it’s ok. Don’t worry about it.” I said, giving him a smile. He cocked his head.

“You ok?”

“I’m fine.” I laughed, playing with Alice’s hair. He nodded and went into his closet before he pulled something out. It was a DVD collection of my favorite show.

“Whoa!” I shouted, jumping from my seat. “Holy…where did you…how!?”

“I remembered that this was your favorite series and that you couldn’t find it anymore…so I, uh, got it for you. Happy Birthday.” Louis chuckled sheepishly. I grabbed the DVD collection and gaped. I giggled, hugged it close, and did a victory dance.

“Thank you! Oh this is so awesome! This is so, so awesome!” I giggled.

The scene was gone but…I didn’t want to think on it or get my hopes up but maybe, just maybe.


“So which design should I go for? Teddy bear or princess?” I asked Louis, trying to design the cake for Alice’s birthday which was on the thirty first. He stroked his goatee and hummed. I loved it when he did that. I wanted to do it too if only to feel how scruffy it was.

“Go with teddy bear. I’ll tell my mom about it too.” Louis said, squeezing his stress ball after a really hard online match.

“Ok teddy bear it is. What are you going to do for Christmas? Spending time with the fam?” I asked.

“Yeah, we don’t really do anything besides get together. There’s a ton of gifts for the turkey though.” He laughed. It was sweet that he called his daughter that. “What about you?”

“I have some family from Cali that’s coming by. We’re all getting together and I’m totally drinking my first beer!” I laughed.

“You could have told me that! I would have bought some for you!” Louis laughed, playfully shoving me. I stuck my tongue out at him before continuing to draw. “Hey, you’re not doing anything for New Years are you?”

“No, why?”

“Oh nothing.” He cleared his throat.


I looked at my phone again and my breath came out in wisps. The moon was shining and the stars were out. I read Louis’ last text over and over.

It came slow but started to burn as soon as I realized it. I had more than a few feelings for Louis. He makes me laugh, he listens to me, understands me, and helped me get over my last boyfriend. I told myself that I wouldn’t be getting into another relationship so soon but Louis was different. It could be because he was older than me. It could be because he matured for his daughter. It could be because we love the same things.

I really, really liked him.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up. There were signs but I was always so oblivious to everything.

I saw the car pull up and my heart pounded in my chest. I took another breath to calm down. He got out. I waved at him as he leaned against the gate like I was doing.

“It’s cold isn’t it?” He asked.

“Yeah…my parents are inside, waiting for the fireworks for New Year’s.” I said, fidgeting with my sweater that I got for Christmas from my cousin. “You can see the fireworks from here if you get on top of the house.” I laughed.

“Cool.” Louis laughed. He saw that I was fidgeting and grabbed my hand. My heart skipped a beat. I squeezed it and felt my face flush. I took out my phone. Two more minutes until the New Year. I looked in my peripheral vision and he looked as nervous as I did. I re-read the text.

Can you be my New Year’s kiss?

He rubbed my knuckles and I stepped closer to him, leaning against him. These moments of silence I treasured with him. My phone went off and I saw in the distance the lights of the fireworks for New Years.

“Hey, look they’re-“ I started before he tipped my chin. We stared for what seemed like forever before our lips met.

It was slow, it was careful, it wasn’t rushed but planned. I think this was what I needed, this careful romance in which we both understood each other before taking that next time. It wasn’t forceful. It wasn’t like the flames of passion but more like a cool pool of water that you are able to relax in.

All bad thoughts perished when I was with him. He was my strength, he was my rock, and, for the first time in a long time, I had hope for the future.

I never want to let go of this hand.


It was my wedding day. I know, can’t believe it right? After all these years, after all the trials, the lessons we’ve learned and we are now at this point.

I love Louis.

Everyone says that if you don’t fight you don’t really love each other. Our love isn’t like a burning match. It’s doesn’t fizzle out. It rises and falls like the tides in the oceans and, like water, can cool and get warm.

His fingers fit with mine. His soul resonates with my own.

It was slow, careful, planned and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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