When Courage Ended
Thanks to a previous professional contact by Veitena three years ago, her number was identified. It filled Elena with terror. She stood in front of the cell phone on the side table, unable to grab it. The total lack of courage prevented her to answer. Her hands and feet were soaked in cold sweat. Over those seconds, all Elena was able to do was to give one step back. At last, the cell phone silenced.
The sound of her heartbeat made her deaf to the world. Paralyzed, she looked at the wrist watch: ten past seven. LORENZO!
She now trembled. Feeling that her legs would not support her body, she let herself fall on the floor.
She fought against paralysis, looking around, trying to remember where the Codename Úrsula’s phone was. It was on the side table on the other side of the bed. My God, help me!! Protect Lorenzo!
She now struggled to climb onto the bed to fetch Codename Úrsula’s phone. I have to hear his voice! She had no strength to stand. She then, forced herself to crawl around the bed. She was weak.
Suddenly, the ordinary phone rang again. She rotated her body to look at the display: it was Veitena.
There on the floor, when courage ended in terror, Elena remembered the first times she saw Lorenzo in person, after negotiations for an editing service and how enchanted she was when she looked at him and his eyes lit right in front of her. It was embarrassing and yet, wonderful.
There on the floor, when courage ended in paralysis, Elena remembered how stunned she was, reading his second e-mail answer filled with an excess of personal information irrelevant to that professional matter and how she felt that he deserved some attention and an answer that could help him to see life under less dreary perspectives.
There on the floor, when courage ended in weakness, Elena remembered how mesmerized she was when driving along the elegant avenue where Marces & Marces Architecture Office was located and Lorenzo was smoking outside. She reduced the speed to the minimum, to admire that man who wrote terrible things about solitude, life, inexistence of love. Then, she remembered how many times she returned to the avenue, just to look at him a second time, how he seemed to spot her and notice what she was doing. Each time he spotted her, Elena witnessed the change in his eyes: they turned into diamonds!
It would have been the last of the ringing tones of that second call, when Elena stretched her arm and grabbed the phone:
Love bestows courage on those who need it.
“It is all you fault, you evil bitch!” Veitena screamed on the phone.
“Where is Lorenzo?” it was all Elena wanted to know.
“Tell me what your witchcraft is, you disgusting cow! You are powerful!” Veitena yelled, “I want to know who are your people and the forces you work with, because they are strong!”
Elena had to exert some emotional control, in order to understand about what Veitena was talking. Witchcraft!? My People?! Strong?! Forces?!
“Please, do you know where is Lorenzo?” Elena asked, trying to use diplomacy.
“It is your entire fault, you disgusting sinner!”
In an outburst of panicked rationality, Elena realized that it would be no use to try to keep a civilized conversation with Veitena. But she sensed she had to act quickly. Whether to call police or drive alone to Veitena’s would be decided on her way to the Marces’s villa. Elena ended the conversation. Within one minute, she changed clothes, grabbed both cell phones and entered into the car. Lorenzo, I’m going after you, my love!
In the car, as soon as she turned the engine on, Codename Úrsula phone rang. It was Lorenzo.
Thank You, God!
“Please, come pick me up, Elena, rescue me again! You will find me walking, more or less one kilometer from the villa.”
“Are you OK?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Keep safe. I’m in the car already.”
Elena turned the engine off. There was something she had to do before picking up Lorenzo.
Veitena was crying at the breakfast table when the cell phone rang. She silenced immediately, looking at the screen: Unknown.
That was odd. She had just called that sinner. But if it was Elena, her name would be exhibited, from the time she saved all telephone numbers hacked from Lorenzo’s cell phone. She took the call.
“Hello.” she said, faking self-control.
“Here is Elena speaking. I’m calling from Codename Úrsula’s telephone.”
Veitena felt increasingly filled with anger. I knew it since that phone call I’ve made to Lorenzo at the beach! Elena went on:
“As you have requested, I will tell you what are my witchcrafts, my powers and my forces: I have looked at Lorenzo, seeing the wonderful person he is! I have read him speaking on how lonely he felt over forty years of his life. I read him. I answered him. I have kissed him! I have tasted and smelled him. I loved his taste and his perfume! I touched his whole body with my hands and whole body. I drank him! I have listened to him. I have received him inside my body and inside my soul. We built tenderness. Then, we noticed we were building love. And I can assure you: there is no witchcraft more powerful than love!” and she ended the call.
Twelve months later, Elena insisted in entering in the queue to compliment Father Joseph for the magnificent homily of that Sunday mass. It had been not only Catholic, but also philosophically deep, into concepts of ethics in personal relationships. The priest could not hide his joy in having the couple who had been in the news of his church and the whole high society of Green Palms, finally attending Sunday masses there, never meeting Veitena, who started attending other wealthy churches of Green Palms. He gladly summoned them for a talk in the attendance room.
Father Joseph commented how many colleague priests and laypersons from neighboring towns commented about the couple that kissed each other’s hand after the Our Father part of the masses. They recognized the locally famous architect and the classy woman who was not Veitena Marces. The several reports indicated that they have been going to masses together during months, but never in Green Palms, keeping a pattern of never going to the same church two Sundays in a row. Father Joseph guessed that this was a legitimate safety procedure against Dona Veitena.
The talk should be brief, but the three of them spent hours in that room. Elena, indeed, loved meeting Father Joseph. When he asked if they would have interest in knowing the pastoral care of the divorced, Lorenzo told him that Veitena would not accept divorce and he would not seek the judicial ways, not even for his share of assets per suggestion of Elena. Elena, in turn, explained to have no religion, happy to attend the Sunday masses because they were important to Lorenzo.
Late in the night, before going home, Father Joseph blessed the couple that would travel to the United Kingdom within two weeks.
Before the trip, they would spend one Sunday at Lorenzo’s mother in São Paulo. Thanks to his niece, Lorenzo’s relatives changed the way they saw the woman with him. They lived in a constant diplomatic conflict, listening to what Veitena spoke about her over the telephone. At the same time, they witnessed a happier Lorenzo. On one of those Sundays when his mother was worried, his niece replied to her:
“Nonna, all I can say is that uncle Lorenzo is a way better uncle now! He’s is being a better brother, son and brother-in-law too, isn’t it? He smiles! Also, my cousin Felipe who is uncle Lorenzo’s son says that Elena is no prostitute and that he knows her editing agency for quite a long time.”
When Lorenzo’s mother thought about it, she remembered the countless weekends she called Lorenzo and he was alone at home with the dog, while Veitena was in the church. She was a devote Catholic as well, but she had concerns about a religious life that implies to abandon the husband in such an extent. When she witnessed the diamonds in his eyes on the day he introduced Elena, seven months ago, she chose to keep a diplomatic position with Veitena, the mother of her grandchildren, and Elena, who made her son’s eyes shine like she did not remember to have seen before.