But you arrive, silent lover,
Elusive voice of the neglected,
But you come…and my voice
covers every corner,
To mantle your nakedness with shadows.
“Verbo de la tierra” (“Word of the Earth”)
– Raúl Mellado Castro
I met you in July. Lima bore a constant grayness and a biting cold that made everything feel depressing. It was neither rigorous nor pleasant. My days were dark, slow and monotonous. In the morning, after cursing my blandly ordered and impersonal life for the thousandth time, I took place behind my desk and faced the visitors with a smile that torn my soul because all I wanted was to hide and cry.
The newly arrived books had been placed orderly in the shelves, when you entered. The reflection of your image hit my retina and a kind of shudder, or pheromones as they call it, had already invaded me. You asked me, with a blissful smile, if you could appraise some books. The stupid look on my face and my stutter betrayed me when I told you that the shelves were marked to simplify your search.
You turned and disclosed your broad shoulders, upright torso and the locks that stroked your strong neck. Your imposing, resolute stride allowed me to inhale a virile fragrance. I saw rays of light while watching your legs moving with swiftness and how your hands firmly held a large new book. My body shuddered as I imagined that you could take me in the same way.
For endless months I waited with increasingly distress your sporadic and irregular visits to query for a new title. At the end of January, you asked for the most recent book by Silvina Bullrich. I promised to have it within fifteen days.
“ ‘These frenzied, weird lines are to tell you that I truly love you. I would be or do anything you ask me without hesitation. The separation is driving me crazy, I ask for nothing and wish to give you everything. Forgive my impetuosity, what I feel for you is breaking me in two. I can’t live with this despair. Please call me. –Sabrina.’ Fernando smiled, crinkled the note and, with a smirk of contempt, threw it in his office trash can…”
I closed the book. The story was cruel, ruthless, but the reality was even worse than this novel. The more love we gave, the more indifferent the response. If only one time it could be different.
I had only five minutes left before closing the library. With a little luck, I would find a place in the “Yellow Pub,” on the corner of Larco Avenue and the pier. To watch the sea while enjoying a drink was one of my weekly little pleasures.
I removed the blouse that covered my dress, and exposed my naked shoulders. Outside there was no air conditioning and I would feel on my skin the twenty-nine-degrees heat. After straightening my hair, I gazed on the window and could see the reflection of my tanned neckline and back.
I was sprinkling on my neck some drops of “Shalimar” when you opened the door. I neither considered nor wanted to cover my skin. While walking to the shelf with new books, the closeness of your body bashed me because I knew your gaze was fixed on my back and on the mole right in the middle. Your aroused breathing, when I grabbed the book you wanted, made me remember Fernando’s cruel smile as he threw away Sabrina’s letter. For a second’s fraction, I knew that we were too close, when suddenly turning, your skin would touch mine and I gave a damn on all of it. I saw in your eyes an indefinable twinkle, your long eyelashes concealed your gaze. Those hands that handled so many books firmly gripped my waist. You caressed my back, my hair, and I do not regret my insanity and my loss of self-control.
Blurred images of your red Fiat, a department with Persian carpets, embroidery pillows of Nepal and eclectic art works are printed in my mind surrounded by the echoes of Dionne Worwick’s voice whispering: “I Know I’ll Never love this way again, so I Keep falling on before the good is gone.”
Without saying one word you offered me a drink, after watching me drinking it at once, you wrapped me in your arms and made me burn, slow and joyful for many hours. That long and turbulent February night is still engraved in my brain and heart and it is all I have of you.
Literary novelties arrive continuously but you have not come to search for them. A bewildered sensation invades me when I think that Fernando must have your face, and how Sabrina and her feelings were neglected and dumped. You read my body and convicted me among shelves, files and a perpetual monotony.
Santiago De Chile, MXMLXXI