Counterclock

Ficciones de cuarentena. traducion al ingles de un relato antes publicado aqui.

— The train leaves me in 15 minutes.
— Or you can stay and have another drink with me — She said it with an intact smile, the sobriety of a nun, and the mischievousness of the one who knows the answer she will have. Her black eyes and electric look under the artificial lights that swarm the Friday nights in that European capital. Her lips are so red that they demand a slow kiss, her delicate gestures, and elegant clothes, which hide pain behind them, pain that can only be measured in the number of false smiles per minute.

He watched the clock on his wrist and watched one by one die the seconds while he thought. Fifteen minutes is not enough to weigh a life, to remember everything, and make a decision. He has only fourteen left. It’s better to start the recount, gathering memories can be exhausting and gratifying. Still, on this occasion, he is not going to lovingly review photos from an old album, or notes in an old notebook, no, not today, not today, and as the clock goes on until the departure time of the last train, he’ll recount in his head the events that brought him here, and hopefully make a decision that won’t hurt for the rest of his life.

He met her about ten years ago, her name soon engraved on his mind and his routine. Perhaps the fact that in that unknown land, that name was so easy for him to remember, seemed enough to gain his attention. He was new in that country, and so every stone in every street was something different.
She greeted him with a cold kindness that he has spent years trying to understand. Yet he fell in love with her, with the speed the leaves fall in autumn. Without haste, little by little turning routine into love, letting time envelop them, let the autumn breeze unwind them in parks and avenues, let the cold winter nights turn into shared beds, lost alarms, and sunless dawns.
There are those who curse routine, and blame it as the reason love is usually over. They tend to forget that love itself requires routine, the constant exercise of being for the other, seeing oneself reflected day by day in the fears, dreams and doubts of another human being, as vulnerable as one’s own being and with so much power to harm us once we have opened the door to our heart. In routine, we learn to love ourselves. I see you every day in the other corner of the classroom, I buy you a coffee on Wednesdays that I know you leave work early, I tell you again that old problem, I listen to you once again and try to understand you again.

She said yes, she would marry him. That the idea of spending the rest of her life together wasn’t so bad and that it made all the sense in the world. She really loves him, perhaps in a different way than after almost ten years, he doesn’t fully understand. But she loves him, she feels that she is as happy as he should be and would not move a needle in the precise order of her life.
They then made that life together, that life he had dreamed of from the moment he left his country behind and moved to that European capital. That life was not very impressive for her, but happy in the end, happy to be slightly less alone for a few hours a day.

A small apartment to call home. A well-known commute every morning, one plant in the window, condemned to die when one of the two forgets to water it, or a freezing breeze of an approaching winter, surprises them with an open window.
It took some time, but the small apartment became a small house, and took another little more marks on the calendar, but the small house was filled with new life. A black cat, a shy parrot, and a little blue-eyed girl whom he and she love above all else.
And just like that, they seem to be happy. She is, he is, as is the little girl who today begins to take her first steps around the house becomes more familiar every day with her father’s face, who is usually the first to be found in the mornings, and with her mother’s voice that in the evenings lulls her with songs of such an ancient origin that they could be kept in museums.
It is too difficult for him to find the exact moment when all that seemed to cease to be enough. It’s not that he has stopped loving his wife, or that he wants to be away from his daughter… it’s just that… he can’t explain it, he’s in the middle of the night without being able to fall asleep, without giving reasons. Without being sad or happy or dissatisfied, just being. And suddenly, just being is insufficient. He can’t stand the weight of his clothes in the mornings, the summer sun annoys him enough, the coffee always tastes so insipid that it’s almost repulsive. But what he finds most repulsive is without a doubt himself. He can’t stand a minute alone, because alone he has no choice but to ask himself the questions that hurt. Why does he feel that way? Where is my peace, where has that which made me happy gone? I would like to be happy. I wish I was happy, or sad or whatever, but that strange limbo is burning inside him.
For many years he had thought that the moment he met his wife, he found the pieces of a puzzle that was long lost and that when his daughter was born, all the parts finally fitted together. And yet now it seems that time begins to lose them again. You don’t even have to lose all the parts for the puzzle to stop making sense, just one, just one is missing, the problem is that you just can’t point out what it is.
And now something makes him think that the missing piece came in the form of that woman, waiting for an answer, sitting in front of him in that bar illuminated by the neon lights that adorn the night. The most recently employed in the company where day after day he spends his hours earning a living for a home. His home, remembers distracted.
Her black eyes contrast violently with everything he knows in one glance. Her red lips remind him of Christmas, sugary drinks, and the ecstasy of watching fireworks. She has something. She is something new, something so distant and disparate that he can’t help wanting to get closer, tempt the sun, get closer to the fire, test his wax wings and see them melt in surprise. Fire strange and frightening fire, which emanates from her mouth when he hears her speaking in the hallway, or when she accidentally crosses it at the entrance. He remembers his name with fantastic clarity, that clarity that is familiar to him, like when he was first lost in that European capital and clinging to simple names seemed the right way to survive.
She invited him first, and then he and for a few weeks, that was enough. She and his black eyes saw in him his own missing pieces, and maybe she also understood him a little bit, or at least he feels it. Someone out there is busy understanding why life hurts so much. Or at least he wants to believe it.
Time ran out two minutes ago, and there are no more trains waiting for him, while he keeps his watch in his pocket and carefully glances her black eyes, he feels his heart racing, while at home, an innocent woman sleeps under the memory of old like fossils songs, hugged at night like a sailor in the ocean, who does not expect to be shipwrecked after the next wave.

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