Fall by Zoë Ruiz, with a photo by Alexander Gilbert

From Her Notebooks by Zoë Ruiz, Prose

In the backyard, the tree is bare and my father is still alive. The man is skeletal. His translucent skin hangs loose from his thin bones. Each of his ten fingers are crooked and bent, and he holds them in the air, above his sunken chest. He has little lung capacity left. He opens his mouth, his teeth are rotten, and he says, Help me. His voice is a whisper, and repeatedly, like a prayer, my father says, Help me.

Summer by Zoë Ruiz

From Her Notebooks by Zoë Ruiz

1. We are in a drought but I decide to run a bath because the water will warm my body, melt away the stiffness in my joints. Sometimes a bath is the only way I know how to relax and when I allow myself to relax, energy slowly, ever so slowly, comes back to me. As the water fills...
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Birth by Zoë Ruiz

From Her Notebooks by Zoë Ruiz

Today I saw my friend who is very close to giving birth and she placed her hands on her stomach and asked, “Can you believe there is a baby inside here?” “A human being,” I say. “Can you imagine a human inside there?” “No,” she says. “I cannot. It is crazy.” Months ago, my friend and I were at a...
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Airport Bar by Zoë Ruiz

From Her Notebooks by Zoë Ruiz

I’m at an airport bar at LAX drinking a glass of champagne at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I’m thinking about how I pitched a column idea to an editor of an online literary magazine in December and the editor accepted the pitch and now it’s the beginning of April and I haven’t written that column and it’s been awhile since I’ve written...
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Mexican Pain Pill by Zoë Ruiz

From Her Notebooks by Zoë Ruiz

She cared about me in the way that she could, which was not the way I wanted because I did not know what I wanted from her. I remember now that she cared about me because when I told her I was in constant physical pain, she gave me a bottle of painkillers. As I left her apartment complex...
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Weight by Zoë Ruiz

From Her Notebooks by Zoë Ruiz

I had been wanting to cry for weeks but couldn’t. The grief was trapped in my chest and throat and my entire body began to feel heavy, weighed down by it. The first night he fell asleep with his arms wrapped around me was the first time I heard his heart beat. I started to cry. I was scared to...
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From Her Notebooks by Zoë Ruiz #2

From Her Notebooks by Zoë Ruiz

I thought to write down lines from Jeanette Winterson’s Lighthousekeeping on an index card and tape that card to the wall above my writing desk, next to the photos of Frida Kahlo’s artwork. I couldn’t remember the exact quotes so I searched online and then remembered that I gave my copy of Lighthousekeeping to a friend. At the time she...
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From Her Notebooks by Zoë Ruiz #1

From Her Notebooks by Zoë Ruiz

I was driving and felt like the black sky was opening up. The black sky was becoming vast. Not vast like outer space is vast, vast like the sea. The sky was opening up to show me more black space, to envelope me in that unknowable darkness. Any moment there’d be a large creature with big eyes and long tentacles,...
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