She is drinking her espresso, and she's sipping it slowly, not taking her eyes off the oilcloth that covers the table.
Alone, as always at this hour, she can take pleasure in the figures of teapots and steaming cups that repeat themselves monotonously and shine with the artificial tones of plastic. She still has all morning and all afternoon to fill up with little tasks. But today might be different. Strange things are occurring to her, like putting on a beautiful straw hat tied down by a pink cord, and to enter in the lightfilled greenhouse to cut delicate, exotic flowers that she will place in a little wicker basket.
Reality is another thing and she knows it well. In her gray patio, with its wornout tiles and walls blackened by soot, only a few melancholy callas can grow.
Today, for example, she will not water them with the water left over from rinsing the shirts. If only the dirty clothes basket could scream out in protest. Today she won't even touch even one article of clothing.
LONG LIVE THE STRIKE
Let the sheets rumple up, let the dust settle over the ledges, let the flies swarm over the abandoned plates.
It's time to stop whining and complaining. What happens is normal, everyday. The same thing happens to millions of women in the world. Every day, hundreds of thousands of women wake up and discover they're alone. They look at their bodies and the encounter the silhouette of a machine, skinny and worn out, that is good for everything, but it's still only a machine.
She decided to change this situation. Sometimes magazines are good for something, and in one of them she found the solution.
But it was time to begin her magic day. While she takes a bath she imagines with pleasure the surprise that the men in her house will have when they return and do not find dinner ready and the beds made. She washes her hair slowly and spritzes herself with the entire cologne bottle to perfume her body.
Until that moment, she avoided looking at herself, but one has to be strong, she thinks, and she approaches the mirror ...
Well. The situation's not so serious. Those roundnesses that were just curves before could be disguised with a belt. There are still few wrinkles. Her legs are her strong point: she doesn't have varicose veins nor cellulite. With sheer hose and high-heeled shoes they will look quite good.
She dresses herself hurriedly, with the skirt and the blouse that locate her in the anonymity of the formal housekeeper. She scarcely combs her wet hair and puts on wornout moccasins almost without looking at them.
She resolutely picks up the envelope with the money.
Its the salary of the husband and a part of that of the children. Every month she receives the same amount and she should distribute it equitably for domestic expenditures. For this task, she's a computer; she programs herself and she never makes a mistake.
Right now it's urgent that she go out, she's suffocating in the room that smells like mold. Love wilted long ago and sex turned into a bad word. Every night die two tired bodies that have nothing to say to each other.
Once in the street, she runs to catch the bus and the breeze that chills her face revives her. She gets out downtown and looks cheerfully at all the windows. She enters a distinguished boutique.
The saleswoman waits on her with reluctantly and when she tries on the delicate, insinuating blouse, she's astonished. There's something in this woman that is quickly transforming itself. She decides on a black skirt and she also buys a wide lam_ belt. It's extravagant but she succeeds in making sure that all attention is centered on her waist, which is still passable.
The shoes and purse are acquired without hesitation and she puts in her elegant bag the old uniform of Mrs. Cadaver.
She spends two hours in the beauty salon, reading publications directed at women, where it advises them to be aggressive, sensual, mysterious, seductive .. she learns something, and perhaps it's not too late.
They put makeup on her, dye her hair, and when she contemplates herself, she thinks she sees someone else -- someone she's never met but who had crept into her life a few times.
She had quite a bit of time left still. She walks through the noisy galleries and goes into all the bookstores she runs into, to read love poems, sneakily. The men look at her. A few are doubtful, others, bolder, propose cheap, brief pleasures.
Each time she gets a little more relaxed, more self-assured, and she feels in the looks the affirmation of her recuperated femininity.
Suddenly she has butterflies in her stomach and her heartbeats begin to pound deafeningly. All her prejudices make themselves present in her memory and her obligations scream reproaches in her ears.
But that leads her to not cease, and with a delightful blush in her face, she directs herself in her evening hour, toward an unknown man in a dark suit and a flower in the lapel, who is standing on the corner, just as she had decided. She is not interested in looking back.