Thursday 15 December 2016
“Okay Mum, I’m leaving now.”
“So soon, dear?” she asks me as I stand up from the table.
Today, she looks prettier. For the past few days, she seems worried, as if expecting something to happen. She can’t stop pacing around the house. She goes in and out of my father’s office which has remained untouched since he left. The times when I walk along the corridor and see her inside, I stop to observe her. She walks around the room, looking at everything. She lifts his papers from his desk and then puts them back down again. She picks up the briefcase that he has on the floor. She opens it, looks inside, closes it again and then returns it to the floor, against the wall. It’s fast becoming a routine. Since my father’s disappearance, she’s been doing it again and again. But in recent days, she has done it more often. Furthermore, she keeps calling her sister. And one day, she’s even laughed on the phone, something she has seldom done in the last year.
I watch her as she sits at the kitchen table with my brother and sister who are observing all that she is doing. My little sister can’t help giggling each time our mum gets up and moves around the kitchen. With her right elbow on the table, she never takes her eyes off my mother.
I go up to my mother and without saying anything, I give her a hug as she’s sitting there. I notice how she rests her face against me and allows me to stroke it. How proud I am of her!
The doorbell rings.
“That’s Erik!” I say quickly as I make my way towards the door. “We’re working very hard on the History project. The group that I have is very nice,” I say, to excuse my haste.
“Who’s in your group?” I feel that she’s asking because she doesn’t want to miss the slightest detail of what’s happening in my life. I like that.
“There’s David…” I begin to count on my fingers as if we’re a large group. “The one who was in my class since I was small.” My mother smiles, but I don’t understand why. “Then, Elsa, Samuel, the strange boy, and Erik. It’s all going very well…”
My mom looks at me because I stop and cannot continue. Wide-eyed and with her arms on the table, she stands up. She approaches me, puts her hands on my shoulders and asks:
“Is everything alright, dear?”
My mother’s words would have obliged me to tell her everything that had happened to us, from what had happened to the teacher in class, the guide at the museum, the paper and the people who were losing their balance on the street. But, I don’t know if what’s on my mind is nonsense or not. I prefer to confirm it first before saying anything to her.
“Yes, yes of course, mum,” I answer, surprised by the banality of my response. “I’ve to go now as we’ve agreed to meet up on Alfonso Street.”
I kiss her and wave goodbye to my sister and brother. They say goodbye, and I rush off.
I normally use the stairs to go down the seven floors, but today it is quicker to use the lift. Four, three, two… I like looking at the numbers on the indicator. Zero, at last. I push open the door to open for Erik but he’s already inside the entrance. In fact, I opened it for him with the automatic door opener when I told him on the intercom that I was coming down.
No sooner do I close the door to the lift when he approaches me. He looks at me, puts his arms around me and I feel his hands on the lower part of my back. I tiptoe and look into his eyes. There’s no one in the entrance lobby, nor can anyone see us from the street because Erik already knows where the blind spot is around the exit from the lifts. Hence, we do what only the two of us know about.
Suddenly, we are startled. On pure reflex, we pull apart.
A resident has called the lift to the second floor and the noise abruptly brings the moment to an end. We see the lift going up. We look at each other, and like little children caught red-handed doing something naughty, we smile at each other.
Erik takes me by the shoulder and we go out into the street towards Plaza Aragon.
“You look very pretty,” he compliments me as we walk together.
I stop, remove his hand from my shoulder and move away from him. Then, I look at him and say:
“But you’ve hardly looked at me.”
He laughs and looks me up and down. He almost makes me blush when he stops a couple of times.
“Stop looking at me like that!” I snap at him. Then, I grab his hand and pull him along to continue walking.
Just as we are about to cross at the light on Paseo Constitución, Erik stops.
“Why did you mention it to the guide at the museum?” He turns and looks at me tenderly.
He’s taken me by surprise. I’m simply looking at the people crossing the street with us.
“Because…” I begin and pause, tentatively, since the man on our right appears to have stopped to listen to us. When I see him moving away, I continue: “The other day in class, when the teacher explained it, there was something that did not quite add up.”
He’s looking at me, searching every corner of my face. I answered the question he’s asked, but he doesn’t seem to be paying any attention to what I’m saying. He stops his wandering gaze and now, his eyes are fixed on my mouth.
“I like you so much, Sofia.”
Before I realise what’s happening, he kisses me on the mouth in the middle of the street. What is he doing? I’ve already told him that I do not like people seeing us kissing in public.
But I like it. I feel that tingling sensation again deep within me when he did it.
Then, he takes my hand and, seizing the initiative, he continues walking towards Paseo Independencia.
Suddenly, quite unexpectedly, he asks:
“By the way, is there anything between you and David?” He inquires, as he continues walking without even looking at me, and then adds: “He looks at you strangely.”
I’m unable to answer him.
Writer: Glen Lapson © 2016
English translator: Rose Cartledge
Publisher: Fundacion ECUUP
Register on the website www.disequilibriums.com/en/registred and you will receive a notification to allow you to read the chapters as they are published and updates of the project.