Pretend Friends by Julián Martinez

I was a demon, cursing in a high nook of the Cloudbuster. I told the kids, in a raspy voice, that I’d eat their flesh if they didn’t speak the password–any password would do. “Yes.” “No.” “Please.” When kids got freaked, I’d tell them, in my normal voice, that they’d turned me good. When I was tired of it, I stood to stretch but a child I forgot I’d played with told me to get back into my spot, so I frowned and groaned and followed her to that tight squeeze. When I asked for her password, she said all she had for me was meatloaf. No more password, now I would need meatloaf. I told her it was delicious, her handfuls of nothing. She said they were her mother’s and crawled off. Next time she came around, I growled, “Hello, witch.” She said, “Not a witch! Just a kid,” and brought me more meatloaf. She said she had to leave, so she gave me all the meatloaf her mother had made–her favorite meal–and told me I could speak in my normal voice, that I should say, “Thank you, friend.”


Julián Martinez (he/him) is the son of Mexican and Cuban immigrants and is from Waukegan, IL. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Peach MagProlitBarrio Panther and elsewhere. His work has received The Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Find him online @martinezfjulian. As a DJ, he goes by the name DJ Guadalupe (aka A Vato with Serato) and can be heard rocking a party near you.