I got home at the same time as usual. The furniture in the same place, the smell from the kitchen, the light from the lamp: how many times had I opened the door on this same scene? A thousand? A hundred thousand times? How many times had I dropped myself onto the sofa, hugging my briefcase to my chest, and slept until her voice woke me, and the smell of boiled asparagus from the kitchen became more intense?
We would eat dinner in silence because she didn’t like to speak with her mouth full. She had learned that from her mother: don’t speak if you have food in your mouth.
“Don't worry, I won't tell anybody you speak with your mouth full,” I told her, even though irony wasn’t really my style.
“I couldn’t go to school, remember that. The only education I have is the one my mother gave me.”
“You're always so quiet,” I reproached her. That wasn't the only advice she had inherited from her mother. There were also notions about chewing slowly. If you were going to send a piece of meat down your throat, it had better be very well masticated.
“God didn’t give us teeth and molars for nothing,” said my wife.
“The stomach can digest anything, no matter how tough it is,” I added, satisfied at having a topic for conversation and the possibility of talking during dinner. A man needs to talk with his woman, it doesn't matter what about.
Before going to bed I looked through my mail. How many people had my name and address? I was wondering, because over the last few months, a great deal of advertising circulars addressed to me had been showing up in the mail.
“All this junk with your name on it has been pouring in,” my wife said, as if she were reading my mind. Her slim body seemed to melt as she slipped under the covers. She looked so harmless.
“I don't agree. If they send me their ads, it's because they know I’m someone with buying power. They wouldn’t send these things to just anyone.”
“Who are they?” she asked me. My body felt hard and heavy, like a rock. I wanted to rest, get under the covers and feel the warmth of my woman.
“I don't know who they are, but they know very well who I am,” I answered.
“No, they don't. All you are to them is a name and an address,” she said. I guessed her mother had also taught her to say these kind of things. For a moment I hated her mother.
“Yes, but behind that name and that address, there is only one person: me.”
“Well, then there are lots of people like you, hundreds, thousands.”
My new shoes already looked old. Why did these kinds of things happen to me? Everything became so old as soon as I touched it.
We didn’t speak for several minutes. I was sitting on the edge of the bed with my back to her.
“Do you really believe that, what you said?” I asked her.
“What? Do I believe what?”
“That there are thousands of people like me.”
“No, of course not,” she said. I got under the covers without getting undressed. I didn't feel sad, but I found it impossible not to cry. Without noticing my tears, she moved closer to me, she held me, she gave me her woman's warmth.
Text by Guillermo Fadanelli
Translation by Yolanda Martínez and Matt Madden, 2000.