jueves, 11 de febrero de 2016

Not there

   A small crab ran across the beach, fighting the powerful gust of wind that was sweeping the area. It moved fast and then burrowed himself into the sand, disappearing in a matter of seconds. There was another creature in the beach. A young woman, dressed in plastic boots and a coat that resembled the capes that superheroes used in comic books and movies. It was red and the boots two. Not like the crab, she just stood in one place and looked at the ocean and how the waves were becoming bigger and bigger, how they appeared to be alive. The water and foam came closer and closer to her feet but she did not move. She seemed out of herself, in a way.

 Finally a wave crashed violently against the beach and reached her knees. She seemed to have woken up from a dream, only cleaning her legs with her hands and turning around, walking up the natural hill that had formed because of erosion and went back home, not far from the sound of the ocean. The sky was becoming darker, both because of the time of day but also because of the storm that was brewing in the ocean. The woman walked slowly towards her house, soon joined by a beautiful Labrador dog that was of her property. The dog’s name was Chance. Hers was Amelia.

 She entered the house through the back door that led to the kitchen. She took off her coat and boots and left them in a small cabinet she used for such purposes. Walking in socks, she grabbed a beer from the fridge and petted Chance who followed her everywhere. She crossed the house towards the living room, where she lay down in a sofa, drinking her beer and letting the dog sleep by her feet. But the women wasn’t calm, she was apparently trying the drink the content of the bottle in one gulp and even some of the beer slid down her chin and neck. She cleaned it with her sleeve.

 The main door, a room away, opened to reveal her husband coming in. They had been married for about a year and had come to this house, owned by Amelia’s father, to get away from everyone else. Their anniversary was the next day and they didn’t want to have to share that day with anyone else. Or at least that was the original reason they had for coming to that windy beach. He went straight to the kitchen, left some bags there and organized its contents, and only after finishing he sat down on an armchair across Amelia.

- Isn’t it a bit early?

  Her only answer was to burp with no shame or limit. She had finished her beer so she left the bottle by the sofa and looked at her husband, her eyes sad as they could be. He looked at her too and they wrestled with their eyesight for almost a whole minute, until Amelia asked her husband Matt to come to her in the sofa and he refused. She heard her footsteps going up, to the bedroom. She decided to follow, seeing night had already fallen.

 When she entered the room, he was taking off his shoes and putting some slippers. He always complained about some of the shoes he had brought recently, because they all made his feet hurt a lot. He had just being out in the supermarket for a couple of hours and he felt blood pumping through his feet. Amelia sat down by him on the bed and took his hand. She squeezed and he squeezed back but they didn’t look at each other. They just sat there in silence, only illuminated by the very week light of a nightstand lamp.

 The moment was broken by a thunder in the distance. They had not seen the lighting so maybe the storm was out in the ocean but they knew the night was going to be long. Matt looked at Amelia and proposed to her to go down to the kitchen and make some dinner. She tried to smiled but couldn’t; only nodding and releasing his hand from her grip. She walked down first, arriving at the kitchen where Chance was smelling his plate. She had forgotten to feed him and proceed to pour some of his food into it before Matt saw her. But Chance had to eat earlier.

- You always forget. Is like you don’t care about him
- I do.
- Really?

 Matt had that quality that some people have to make you feel, with simple words, like a bug squashed against a wall. Of course she loved the dog but she had been thinking all the day long, going away to the beach   and the dog didn’t like the beach, possibly because it was very humid or because of the crabs. Maybe if the dog had come with her to the beach, she wouldn’t have forgotten to feed him. But it was too late for that now and the dog was eating already.

 Her husband gave her some vegetables to cut into dices as he marinated some shrimps and cut some slices of eggplant. He had always loved to cook and invent new recipes. It drove him away from everything in the world; he became the only person alive with all the ingredients, focusing only on how good it had to look and how nice it had to taste to any palate. The recipe they were doing had been created by him, several years ago.

 Amelia cooked the vegetables with a bit of oil and butter. They had to be nice and crunchy. The shrimps were cooked in a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper and also some paprika. Amelia looked at him, almost smiling to the prawns, so much happier than ever before. She loves to see him smile but it wasn’t often that she saw that these days. Then again, she didn’t smile herself too often either. He proceeded to fry the eggplants after submerging them in water. The smell was all around the house.

 In each plate, Matt served two big slices of eggplant topped with shrimp and vegetables. He poured some olive oil to give it a nice look and asked Amelia to take it to the table. He took out a bottle of wine from a special fridge he had bought and joined his wife at the dining table. It was a small space, the table only for four. They sat one across he other and sat in silence. Matt poured wine into two cups that had been set up by her and they just started eating in silence. It was really good and Chance had followed them to see if they would give him at least a bite of what they had cooked.

 But each one of them was too distracted to notice him, panting included. Amelia wanted to tell her husband how nice it all was but something in her throat didn’t let her. It was as if she had a knot there that wouldn’t let her talk her mind. It wasn’t that she feared her husband or anything like that. She loved him deeply but she knew she was know miles away from him and had been like that since her mother had advised them to come out here and get away from all the eyes and the ears.

 He was distracted too, cutting his eggplant and then sipping some wine and then looking out the window to the storm. From that room, during the day, you could see the horizon and part of the ocean. If there had been light, he would have seen the darkness of the tempest and the violence of the waves in the sea. But now he could only guess all of that by the lights of the thunder and the resounding sound of storm, that seemed like a monster rising from the water and howling, trying to caution every other living creature from getting near him.

- It’s good.

 Amelia had finally said it and as she did, she knew she had committed a mistake. Her voice broke off and couldn’t speak anymore and he looked at her for a moment and just stood up, walking towards the living room. She followed him, thinking for a second he was leaving. She grabbed him by the arm and he pulled her apart, almost in disgust. Her eyes were filled with tears. It was then he said, he finally said what she had dreaded for some time: “You killed her”.

 The only thing Amelia could do, out of rage and despair, was to grab the bottle of beer she had left there earlier and throw it towards him. He dodged it just in time so the bottle crossed the room and smashed against the window, which broke into thousands of big and small pieces. She was breathing heavily and he seemed scared. She finally shed a single tear and said: “Never. I could have never”. The wind entering from outside froze them, leaving them like statues in the middle of the house, thinking of the unborn.

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