By Fabiana Elisa Martínez
He did not want her to move or to say anything although he knew she would, sooner rather than later. The light from a single lamp in the foreign room was made of copper and yellow tourmaline. The flashes of the far away highway could not disturb them so high in the building.
He would have preferred that her head were a little closer to his chest, but in the haze of this most desired peace he realized that lately, after love, she always nested her head on the oblique scar on his abdomen. He had a suspicion: she did it more as a choreographic gesture than as a sign of languor. She did it so he could not get up as easily to straighten things up right away. He caressed her hair with the tip of his fingers, the little turmoil of hazelnut and gold curls that crowned her and she would never see from his perspective. It soothed him to touch her hair without having to read the message in her eyes. He knew she was not asleep but did not want to disturb their shared cocoon of feathery silence. Would this one be at last their last time together? How could he know? He was immensely happy of having been able to perform respectably one more time, but at his age that could not be the case in the very near future. His contorted love for her would not be enough of an excuse when his physical powers decline. Better to disappear from her life in the heights of victory. He surely would miss a moment like this one, but he had a myriad of reflections of this second in his mind to drown himself in memories.
She kissed his rough skin, almost blew on his wide stomach, covered with impossibly blond hairs that were difficult to see from even that close.
“How did you get that scar?” she finally asked.
“You know”, he said, elevating his head just enough to try to catch her eye without success. “It’s from when I had appendicitis when I was … twenty-four. Wow! Like thirty years ago! I told you the story a million times. When I was handsome, my hair was not gray, and you were a little girl,” he smiled, knowing exactly how she was going to react.
“I was not a little girl, I had men falling in love around me like snowflakes in the wind! You always think I did not exist until you showed up! You still believe that’s the case even now! I have a life when you disappear, you know? You really think you are the center of the universe.” She fused the last sounds with another kiss on his surgical scar.
“Because I am. Of your universe at least. Am I not?”
She raised her head and wiped some strands of hair from her eyes to look at him. He knew that look of hers. Drunk and sleepy from their tumultuous demonstrations just minutes ago. One more time he was struck by her primordial image. The miracle she had been when she was twenty-three. This type of love, this lasting intrinsic knowledge they had of each other, was the only effective elixir for old age. Every time he visited her, he rationally knew he would find new wrinkles under her eyes and that the color of her hair would not be completely natural anymore. His hands could feel that her asymmetric, delightful breasts where affected now by some cruel law of merciless gravity. An even knowing all that, when she turned in such an abrupt manner and looked at him, he could only see her as she was when both had become irremediable lovers, almost as many years in the past as was her age when they met.
“I don’t mean this scar. I know this one by heart. I mean the other one, on your big toe. I’ve never seen it before. How could there be anything on your body I’ve never seen before?”
He felt again the wave of urgency to tidy up the bed, the whole room. He had to get up and clean the mess they had produced, clean the traces of love from her skin at least. He was a little mad at her for playing this game of not letting him get up. How a lady so elegant and neat, so sophisticated as she had become, could turn into the carefree vixen she was on his bed, on all the uncountable beds they had shared as lover and mistress. His touch induced the magic pass by which she did not care anymore about her expensive shoes, the mix of jewelry that different men had given her over all these years, the stained sheets or her dewy breasts.
“Let me get up. I have to clean this chaos.”
“No, you don’t. You need to answer me first. Why do you care so much about any mess. Relax! Someone will clean it up tomorrow. That is part of service, isn’t it? You pay for it with your bulky golden card. Tell me. How did you get that scar?”
He leaned his head back on the silken pillow that smelled like brown sugar and kept a hint of her delirious scent. He sighed. He knew he had to answer so he could get up finally and grab the airy towel he had placed strategically on a chair before he brought her up to his room, after their ceremonial dinner at the hotel bistro.
“I cut myself with a mirror.” He pronounced with a raspy voice.
“Oh my! Poor thing! How did that happen? How did it brake? Did it fall on your foot?”
He did not want to talk about that. A greasy guilt was about to strangle him. He only wanted to smell her, to caress her hair, the back of her neck and the impossible softness of the valley in between her shoulders as he had done sporadically for the las twenty-three years —as he might be doing for their last time.
“I don’t remember well. I was six- years-old.”
“So, you do remember. You know you remember. You cannot lie to me. Tell me so I can cure you.”
Why did she have to say those words? He did not need to be cured. He was not weak. Whenever she said words like those, he panicked and knew the time to run away from her had come. She was like this hypnotic fire that invited him to get closer and threatened to burn him alive if he did not watch his distance.
“I hit a mirror one evening I was mad.”
“Mad at what?” she inquired, putting her right hand over his chest.
“I was disrespectful to a guest of my father during dinner. He was a very important man, a colleague of dad, a genius in his field. They were talking about fairy tales. I interrupted them and said those silly stories were for girls and they were stupid.”
“Well, you were participating in their conversation, you were a brave boy! I bet the man laughed. Was he a writer?” She was raking his chest with her nails, gingerly, faintly. Her chin was close to his belly button. Her eyes were curious and her makeup gone.
“He didn’t. My father sent me to my room. I threw the awful heavy shoes they made me wear for this special event in the air. I cried. When mom arrived, I had broken the mirror behind the door with one kick. Mom wrapped my toe in her immaculate napkin and went back to the table, the disgusting psychologist and dad.” He put an arm over his face. He had told a very old story for the first time. He had to sleep. She had to go.
“Will I see you soon?” She asked unnecessarily, yearning for a lie. Some seconds passed without a sound. She moved to the opposite side of the bed to kiss his toe.
“I may come back next month. You know how it is.”
She left the room ten minutes later but not alone. She carried in her lips the sorrows of a young boy who did not like fairy tales. The boy she has been healing for half of her life. She also cradled in her, without knowing it, another little secret made of surprise, brown sugar and tourmaline light, who would start kicking inside her not so young womb sixteen weeks from this night.