Category: La Casa LGBTQIA Contest Winners 2023

Some Questions for Alexandra Rivera

What inspired you to write “A Promise Goes Both Ways”?

I wrote “A Promise Goes Both Ways” for my introduction to creative writing course after being prompted to create a flash fiction piece. “A Promise Goes Both Ways” was inspired by the numerous post-apocalyptic stories that exist in the media. I love seeing supernatural elements in media, but although zombies (currently) do not exist and therefore there are no facts/laws to them, I hate seeing interpretations of zombies done the exact same way every time. When watching shows and playing video games that feature zombies, I always wonder about the people who are turned into creatures and if there’s any sentience after they turn. I wanted to explore that in my piece while also writing a story about love and morality.

What was your writing process like for this piece?

I only had a few days to write this piece for my class, and I spent most of it debating on how the story should even go. I originally wanted to write a simple story that comes off as an excerpt from a much larger piece with some foreshadowing of a bad ending for the two lovers, never actually confirming their fate and leaving it to interpretation. Also, I was going to make our narrator, Hannah, the survivor of the two, meaning she would betray Sam. Ultimately, I gravitate towards creating pieces with sad endings (which I didn’t expect since I hate reading stories with sad endings), and I chose to write the version of my story that I knew would be the most gut-wrenching and impactful.

Read Alexandra’s flash fiction, “A Promise Goes Both Ways.”


Some Questions for Victoria Segarra

What inspired you to write “Ode to a Strange Planet”?

I actually wrote “Ode To A Strange Planet” as an assignment for a creative writing course I took last year at LaGuardia. We had to write an ode and I decided to write an ode to my body. I had always had a very difficult relationship with my body and lacked a lot of confidence, but about two years ago I began my self-love journey. This poem is almost an apology to myself for not recognizing my beauty after all this time.

What was your writing process like for this piece?

I wanted to write an ode to something that I didn’t always think was beautiful. The idea to write about my body came from a recent boost in self confidence that I got once classes were in-person again. I had started dressing nicer and actually felt beautiful for the first time in my entire life. I thought of nature and how nature has this rugged and raw beauty about it. It’s not perfect and it’s not symmetrical but it’s still gorgeous. I decided to talk about my body as if it were a planet with its own natural wonders like Earth because my body is a natural wonder in and of itself. All of our bodies are natural wonders.

Read Victoria’s poem “Ode to a Strange Planet.”


Some Questions for Kaylin Rivera

What inspired you to write “Era Death”?

“Era Death” was something that I randomly thought of. We’ve seen the idea of writing letters to your child self and letting them know you’ve succeeded or are cooler now, etc. However I feel like during my teen years I had different ‘eras’ of myself. And during those moments I thought I was the evolved version of myself. I kept trying to bury those past versions of myself on top of a new self. I realized that I can’t really ignore the past versions of myself. I can recognize them, ‘kill’ their existence and learn from them to continue evolving. The whole point of Era Death was to face the not so appealing parts of myself so I can make room for the new me every time I evolve.

What was your writing process like for this piece?

My writing process was a bit underwhelming. I literally just wrote! My brain felt like a wet sponge dripping with ideas and as I wrote, my brain sponge dried out and suddenly Era Death was there. I will say as I wrote I had to think of my past memories and that was hard from time to time, but I’m glad I reflected because I learned a lot about myself during the process.

Read Kaylin’s piece “Era Death.” 


Era Death

to all the versions of myself that I’ve killed

by Kaylin Rivera

[CW // sexual assault]

Circa 15, 16.


Pressured by your so-called friends around you to give away the one thing that you were told was sacred. Was it worth it? An older man who sure as hell should not have been talking to someone your age. You wanted to get it over with, to not be pestered by the incessant voices. You told yourself it did not matter, it was not as special as it was regarded. You wanted to get rid of it, to tear through the sanctity of yourself, but the feeling during and after… a thick alloy, coating your skin, reaching around trying to absorb you whole. Afterward, proud of your torn stockings and soreness between your legs. Bragging rights of doing it on a roof in the autumn weather with someone who wanted to consume your essence yet they chose not to tell their parents about you despite being together for almost two years.

Good enough for the iciness of their roof, but not enough for the warmth of their home.

Showered you with gifts and romance… shadowed by the suffocation of ownership.

You remember not wanting to fall behind, but now that you reflect… you were certainly not falling behind with the rest of the people your age, just within that vicious cesspool you clung to for validation. Attention… weighing your body down, putting a heavy feeling in the pit of your stomach and needles in your chest. You were told to be a leader growing up, to not be a follower, but did you listen? No.

Ugly, ugly, ugly emotions clouded judgment, despite having the awareness to know this was not what you wanted.

Circa 16, 17.


The previous part of you died; you did not recognize who you once were. A new hair color for every new era, right? Wrong. You thought choosing a new color to don around your crown would be another part of you, that you could wash away the pain and the memories with overprocessed bleach and dead ends.

Yet another one, also older than you. It’s because you’re super mature for your age right? You let him say words to you that you would never let a stranger utter. So why did you let him taint your aura? Day in and day out you ingested the verbal abuse, telling yourself it was banter, it was jokes, and it did not bother you.

Words swathed with poison stacked upon each other like plates piled atop one another with the smaller ones on the bottom and the larger ones on top. Even his parents saw how he treated you and yet day in and day out you slept on his bed with a smile on your face. You took his remarks and his flesh into your mouth without thought. You and he desired entirely different things and you deluded yourself into believing that it would be okay. You and I both knew that it would not last. He was acceptable for that era.

Acceptable for the masochist in you.

Remember that one time when you told him that you could turn it all off? That no matter how many times he positioned himself inside you, you would not flinch, would not feel a goddamn thing other than disgust? He teared up that night and you smiled inside. For the first in a long time, you felt something.

Acceptable for the sadist in you.

Remember when you cut your hair and he uttered ‘lesbian’ immediately after? The smile dropped from your face and you yearned for the lost locks falling past your shoulders.

It was okay though.

You obtained the sweetest taste of secret revenge and ‘till this day the only person that needed to know was you and her. You brought her around him, kissing her and sliding your flesh against hers while heading to his place right after in a drug-induced stupor. It was the only way you could press your lips against his snake-like tongue. It was the only way you could endure his presence, his voice, him. Thinking about her while being with him made it bearable—almost. Did you ever think about her feelings? You were so wrapped up in your pain that you never thought about how she would feel, yet you thought it was fine as she had never been with anyone else but you.

The arrangement was mutual, right?

What you did not recognize was the toxicity of him rubbing off. You harbored his essence like a devil on both shoulders. She shared something sacred with you and you viciously seized it without taking into account her feelings, her wants, her desires. You did the same thing in turn that was done to you. Did you deem yourself worthy of her or above her?

You do not have to answer that… we know the result of it.

We were so terrified of being alone that we stood together, telling each other that we loved each other despite deeply hating each other under all that desperation. You overshadowed her, let her put you on her pedestal. You devoured her just as others have consumed you and were surprised when she clawed her way out on her own. You liked to control her, to have her worship you like a false god. You say that it was her fault for idolizing you, but you knew better. She may have only been younger than you by a year, but she was mentally and emotionally underdeveloped. She looked to you for guidance and you took advantage of that just as others have done to you.

You sucked the soul out of each other and barely remembered anything.


Circa 15-19


You do not want to talk about him. But you have to. Distance was always a component of him and you. You could only get so close being miles away. The fucked up part is the foolishness he and you had. You convinced yourself you would see each other one day, be in each other’s arms whilst ignoring the distance that had nothing to do with where you lived. You loved the idea of him and wove him in your life. He was the in-between of it all, and you thought that was okay because it was not like he was here in person. How much harm could it really be? You hurt and tore each other apart with your dreams, the dreams that never quite aligned with each other. You repeatedly called each other the right person at the wrong time, but how many more wrong times were there going to be? But that is okay. You did the hardest thing, which was letting each other go despite having so much love for each other’s souls.

If only he was a woman, then maybe it would not have ended as it did, right? Perhaps the thought of being with him physically terrified you so much that you lied to yourself once the love for him was blown out, like a battery forgotten in the back of a Wii remote.

Circa 20-22


Solitary confinement.

Romantically, emotionally, physically.

You killed those past versions of yourself, reached into yourself and yanked them out one by one. You have been broken and in turn broken others without realizing until it’s too late. But that is okay because you are a work in progress. You’re learning yourself, knowing who you are.

This time you’ve planted a new seed, with compost and everything, taking the time to cultivate this newer version of yourself with the scraps of your past self. Continuously under construction because with every era that passes, you kill that past version of yourself to create space for something new. Never feel as if your life should end, only the era you’re living in.

the version of me who I have not killed yet

Read our questions for Kaylin Rivera.

Kay Rivera (they/she) is a queer writer currently studying at Queens College who graduated from LaGuardia Community College. They have a special interest in writing fantasy works in order to provide the representation they were looking for as a reader. They’ve been writing since their early adolescence and would like to pursue a career in writing and seek to inspire others to become writers.

Image credit: “Seedling,” Kevin Doncaster. Flickr CC BY 2.0.

Stand-in image

A Promise Goes Both Ways

by Alexandra Rivera

“Hey, bean…? If I ever become one of those things, I want you to put a bullet in my head.”

I was still maintaining my faith in societal restoration and keeping track of the days since the outbreak (it was day 59) when my partner, Sam, uttered those words. We were sitting at the top of a rickety, wooden watchtower on the west end of this abandoned gated community we found and inhabited a while back. It was nighttime, and the sky was illuminated with dozens of stars. Just like every clear night, I was staring at the dark blue sky, searching for constellations while she kept watch for walkers. It has become one of my favorite traditions of ours, since the others aren’t so wholesome (lots of killing and blood). Besides, the sky’s the one thing that has yet to decay in a zombie-infested world. I looked up from what I could’ve sworn was the Big Dipper to where Sam was looking.

It was a walker. It looked just as all walkers do – brainless. A husk, even, of a previous son, friend, or father. She kept her attention on the aimless walker outside the community gates, not allowing a single movement of theirs to go unseen. If a walker was in our proximity, there was no messing around with Sam. She may not have been a survivalist before the outbreak, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she read a How To Survive a Zombie Apocalypse book or watched a ton of The Walking Dead.

Her medium-length, dirty blonde hair was tied back in its signature short ponytail as a safety precaution. She wanted to shave it off entirely, but I convinced her not to. I envied her hair length and texture since I was forced to cut mine after it got seriously matted. When I showed Sam my new hairdo, I told her I looked like a bean now; she chuckled and said I was beautiful and I was her bean (hence the nickname). She wore an oversized, plain white t-shirt tucked into a pair of gray joggers we found at one of the abandoned communities we looted. I had on a lavender shirt that Sam thought complimented my deep skin tone well. Her words and troubled expression made me tuck a loose strand of hair behind her ear and offer her a warm smile when she turned to me.

“Listen, Miss ‘Captain of the Basketball Team.’ Those walkers could never catch up to you even if they wanted to. Me, however, I may run out of breath-”

“I’m being serious, Hannah. I need you to tell me that you will do that for me.”

My eyes widened– she doesn’t ever refer to me by my full name. She looked stern as she took my hands in hers and squeezed it.

“I need you to promise me that you won’t let me become one of them. That you won’t let my body be reduced to those things outside. I know you, I know you won’t want to do it if I end up getting bit, which is why I need you to promise.”

I paused, collecting my thoughts. She was right – I would never want to kill her, even if she turned into a flesh-eating monster. I mean, if she were a walker, I would probably beg her to bite me too. She stared at me with desperate, pleading eyes that said just agree to it. I could tell how much this meant to her, a simple promise. Even if I couldn’t uphold it, with the hopes of seeing her smile for the first time that night, I took a breath and–

“You know that a promise goes both ways with me right, Sam? If I agree to kill you before you turn, I expect the same from you.”

Her eyes gleamed in the starlight, but her expression turned somber. “If that’s what you want…” She pursed her lips and broke eye contact. It seemed she was considering our version of exchanging vows to each other, since I doubted we’d have a post-apocalyptic wedding. It’s not like she wanted a wedding anyways; Sam thought marriage was a social construct. She didn’t have even parents to walk her down the aisle before the world went to shit. But I always saw weddings as a beautiful tradition. Plus, it’s a fancy event where I would be guaranteed at least 4 hours of my girlfriend in a dress.

As if she could tell my brain was going on another tangent, she nudged my shoulder with hers and giggled. “Hey, what’s this about you running out of breath? You used to be in choir, Bean. I remember you singing that Bruno Mars song in the Spring concert – how did that go again? Was it –”

“Sam, no.” I groaned, not wanting to relive the cringy memory. She sang “Grenade” awfully. Even joking, she did not sing too loud, to avoid alerting walkers. I could tell she wanted to lighten the mood again, and I pretended that her attempt was adequate, but the pit in my stomach stayed until I fell into a deep slumber, nestled into her chest.

I don’t know why Samantha was convinced that walkers were lifeless creatures. I don’t know why I was either. My days consist of being trapped– mentally and physically. She keeps me in a room reminiscent of a jail cell, keeps me in a body that is no longer mine. As my body groans for human skin, I yearn for someone to put a bullet in my head. She comes to visit me every night, whispering sweet nothings from a distance, as she knows I will bite her if she gets too close.

One somber night, on what felt like two years since the outbreak occurred, she looked into my dull, dead, ugly eyes and insisted, “Do not worry, Bean. I will cure you of this illness. I promise.”

If I could speak, I would’ve told her that a promise goes both ways.

Read our Questions for Alexandra Rivera.

Born and raised in Queens, New York, Alexandra Rivera is a student and employee at LaGuardia Community College studying Digital Media. She is developing her filmmaking and graphic designing skills in hopes of becoming a content creator. Representing marginalized people is a mandatory aspect of any piece of content Alexandra seeks to put out in her future.

Image credit: “Hamilton Day 1,” Sean Hurley. Flickr CC BY 2.0.

I Don’t Believe in Subtlety

by Josseline Cruz Garcia

Josseline Cruz Garcia is an artist based in NYC. As a queer, latinx woman with depression & PTSD she faced many difficulties in her life that she learned to overcome through art. Growing up she felt that the media or education made available to her often did not reflect her struggles or issues. She has since then met many others who have felt the same lack of representation in media and now plans on creating stories and media that resonate with other marginalized individuals. She goes by the handle Geleekinder online.


Ode to a Strange Planet

by Victoria Segarra

Rolling hills of skin
Comfortable, cushiony ground
The strong and capable plains
Of my back
Blue rivers of veins,
Their waters warm and comforting
Beyond the peaks and dips
Of my abdomen
I see valleys of soft flesh
Filled with stretch mark streams

My body
For years,
I have despised your geography
Wished I could
Tear down your forests
And flatten your hills
And model you after other planets
With less rugged terrain

You are not perfect
But nature is not perfect
And it’s beauty moves people to tears
To traverse your sprawling landscape
Is an adventure
And adventures can be
And messy
And unpleasant
But they are always worth it

Read our questions for Victoria Segarra.

Victoria Segarra is a Creative Writing student at Laguardia Community College. She is a Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx, where she discovered a love for writing while in middle school.

Image credit: “Bubble Planet,” Jon King. Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0.