Happy Ending

The weather is horrible. The rain falls implacably. People are in a hurry and they use their umbrellas like shields, trying to poke invisible enemies with the sharp metal points, as if in a multicolor war of the samurai.

They are men and women, and they bunch up together all wet as they wait for the bus or go into businesses to ask about prices.

She has been walking for hours and she doesn't feel her soaked hair or realize that her blouse, which is quite beautiful, that she put on for the first time this afternoon just for him, is now in shreds. It's become transparent and her breasts look like they're about to burst through the nylon.

She walks and she waits. For what? She squeezes the note between her hands and she looks out without seeing. She hates, hates the whole world, intensely. If she had a pistol, she would have massacred them all. She had stopped herself with her legs wide open, balancing herself well, fixing her eyes looking out with disfavor in order to destroy, in order to kill the street vendors with their oblique eyes, the housekeepers with their full bags, the ragged kids who run around barefoot, the Indians who offer feathers and beadwork, the street dogs, the chipa vendors, the drivers who splash her.

Why does she hate so much, if just a few hours ago she was in love? She knows very well who. On that piece of paper, crushed, are written the cursed words that she learned by heart. Although they hurt. "Forgive me, dear, what we had is over. My wife is expecting. Good luck."

"Forgive me, dear," "Forgive me, dear" -- Can you forgive something like that in that way? Like the princess of fairy tales, she was sleeping for more than 30 years, until he awakened her with a caress to her hair, a squeeze of the hands, with a smile, with an invitation to go to a pastry shop for a coffee.

"What we had is over." What did they have anyway? A few fleeting dates, barely a few stolen hours. Now she realizes it, and she sees it all clearly. He waited for her in a car, in the street in the shadowy dusk. She got in and they left in a hurry. Later they came back, and she sat there with her insides all frozen, while he was very relaxed. That was "what we had."

She makes a thousand turns in the same street. The businesses are a motley bunch, filled with useless merchandise. She hadn't liked this part of downtown very much. Suddenly she focuses on the window displays: there are shoes with broken half-soles, shirts with burned-out armpits, used dentures, ill-fitting straw garments stained with strange urine. The sign offers in giant letters: DISCOUNTS. HUGE DISCOUNTS. PRICING TERROR.

They also have workers' pants with thick leather knee guards so they won't wear out with a lot of kneeling and scraping.

She keeps on walking. People go into those gloomy places, some to take shelter from the storm, but she no longer wants to nor does she even feel like, killing anyone anymore, except perhaps the bearded young man who is shoplifting some crutches.

"My wife is expecting." Amazing how he denigrates women who are expecting. Doesn't he think that she'd be expecting someday, too, and having a family, too? Of course, in her case it is different. She doesn't even have a heartbeat. But she knows that those women who make the rounds with their plethoric, brimming bodies look at her with arrogance. Their bellies, filled with movement and heat, had been filled like hers, with the same sap, but her belly bore no fruit.

Some of them, she was certain, would retreat to their houses weaving tablecloths, sewing bibs, embroidering sheets and pillowcases. Others would amass little cradles of clay and would prepare a mattress stuffed with ferns and dreams to make it gentler. In them they would put little children as brown as the earth. Those women also made her die of envy.

"What we had is over." What curt, short words, like those from some soap opera. Those are the words that one uses when one says goodbye to one's lover, to one's sweetheart, and she never even got to that category. She had no importance whatsoever to him; and nevertheless she felt very much a woman when she was at his side. She loved him. She fell in love like an adolescent ... at her age. He was the first, and she finally knew why women moaned and sighed. She now knew the pleasure, the pain, and her skin was barely enough to contain the new sensitivity which was blossoming.

She remembered and she was furious. Suddenly she finds herself pounding a plastic mannequin, surrounded by astonished people who stare at her. A girl asks her: "What is happening, ma'am? Do you feel bad?"

No. No she doesn't feel bad. She is dead and she wants everyone to die. She continues walking, and she senses that someone has been following her for several blocks. He has a blue cap and his face is blurred -- she can't distinguish his features. But at times, when she stops in front of a showroom window to look at some comb without teeth, he approaches a little too much and she knows he's there.

Would he be married, too? He seems to be engendered by the rain, and he is somewhat gelatinous. A car passes by and it splashes her, covering her with mud. It stains her blouse and she takes out a handkerchief to dry it off. He takes her by the arm and she says nothing. Without looking at him and without forming words she asks, Are you married?

He pushes her precipitously down a long, dark hallway. In the entranceway, she sees a sign: "Delly Residences." It was a name that makes her think of her adolescence and of romance novels.

He squeezes her waist with something that resembles a web and starts to walk down the infinite corridor. During that interminable journey she asks without speaking: Is he married? Is he married? Is he married?

He gives her moist kisses on her neck, he touches her breasts, and she cannot see his face. When the long tunnel comes to an end, they come out on a curve filled with doors. It is a wall that forms a semicircle. In each one of them there are numbers that do not correlate to the others. Perhaps their significance is kabbalistic: 777, 1319, 666...

The knock, and a red light turns on, and they continue their journey. It seems to her that they've spent hours and hours that way, until they finally arrive without encountering a single unoccupied room. Suddenly, one of the doors opens. It's room 314. The entire room is covered in red. The rug, the walls, and even the canopy bed, which has some drapes of a color that is both lacerating and lascivious. Everything is extremely old. The mattress and the velveteen drapes with their huge holes make it clear the rats have thrown a big party.

She stands there looking at it all, and she says: "Who cares, I have to put out the fire ... or perhaps I'm frozen and I need the heat of a man. She undresses and as in a poem, things fall from her: her wraps, her dress, her skirts, her underwear... Later she lies down.

Meanwhile, he continues very attentively and in silence. Under the blue light she can see that over his eyebrows he has what may be little horns. Her skin is semitransparent and the color of shrimp. But nothing matters to her, nothing matters any more, and she keeps waiting in silence.

She is totally naked and she perceives that something very strange is happening. A cloud is emanating from him and it makes her feel a rush of pleasure when it gets close. He comes close very slowly and when he's just about to cover her, she finally dares to ask him:

"Are you married?"

She doesn't receive an answer. She feels him grab her from the tips of her feet to her knees, and that later her legs support the light weight, and when she is overcome by that warmth and softness, she feels a great deal of relief. She is covered up and sheltered, and she'll never be alone again.

The ritual movements of the act of making love never begin. It's not necessary. She made it to the port.