It’s all dark.
– Wake up, Dante! – A vague and distant shout reaches me like it’s coming from the depths of a well.
– Oh, my God! – The bright light pierces my eyes. I notice I’m on the couch, not in my bed. The fact I’m home is somewhat a relief, but the effect of the light in my brain is not. – Who could it be at this time?!
I look at the clock: 12:42pm.
– Fuck. Do people wake up at this time?!
My head is about to explode. What party was that? I turn to avoid facing the light and try, now with some darkness, to remember what happened last night.
– Dante, I know you’re in there! Open the door!
Further knocks. I can hear footsteps on the hallway.
– Oh, shit. Go away!
A flashback of the bartender’s apartment appears in my memory and I recall she had a full bar at her place. I remember drinking a little bit of everything... and what we inevitably did after we got drunk. So, this is the reason for my headache.
“Lucy in the sky with diamonds...”
Now she’s calling me on my mobile.
The land line rings as well.
She’ll stop... she’ll stop... she’ll stop...
The doorbell starts to...
– Ok! You won! Just stop with all this shit! – I stand up in my underwear to get the door, like a zombie. – You’d better have brought breakfast.
I open the door.
Or so I tried for some seconds until I finally did it.
Lucy’s face appears at the first slit of the door.
– You kind of have already lost today’s morning. I brought lunch.
When I see her, she’s all messed up like she always is, with two cellphones on her hands and food bags by her elbows, almost dropping everything. She’s all desperate with this whole situation. And here I am, worrying about my migraine.
– Hey! You busy? I can get back later... – I started to close the door.
– Ha-ha-ha. Very funny. – She’s already coming in, bumping into everything that’s vertical. – Your alcohol breath is also funny.
– Did you three get back fine, yesterday? – I breathe into my hand and smell it. She’s right. I immediately head to the bathroom to brush my teeth.
– Yes – Lucy says, throwing the bags on the coffee table. – I had to listen to the endless fights between Jessica and Peter all the way. It’s amazing how they only behave when you scold them, but we arrived safe and sound...
She doesn’t ask about me.
If there’s one thing that’s important in a relationship that existed or still exists, this thing is definitely what’s not said. These unspeakable commas and semi-colons are, by themselves, words. The lacking of sound, communication, dialog, is still understandable. I spit the toothpaste, dry my mouth and get back to the living room.
– Ok. I see that your food comes packed, Lucy. Quite attentive.
– It’s Chinese, yakisoba. – Delivery, she meant. – Or Japanese, dunno.
– Heck, Lucy, you know I hate this shit.
– It’s pasta, Dante. Shut up and eat! Pretend it came from Italy.
– Damned chopsticks... – Me, like a monkey, trying to use these fucking sticks. So much metal for swords and the Japanese chose to eat with sticks. I guess cutting is reserved to killing.
We eat in silence.
– Aren’t you really gonna get dressed? – Lucy points to me with her eyes.
– Hey! My house, my rules...
–Humpf... Look, Dante, we gotta talk. – Lucy threw me a serious look, like she always did, and contracted her body to the smallest possible space that can be occupied.
– There comes bullshit – She frowns. – Fine. Say it.
– Dante, did you go to your dad’s service yesterday?
I was expecting that question at some point, today...
– I... kind of went.
– What do you mean?! Look, we want to help you with your pain, even if it means going to the club with you, which, in my opinion, is no way to handle grief. Something tells me that this is not right. You... don’t seem to be suffering.
– But, Lucy... I’m not.
– What do you mean?! – Her face shows perplexity. – Why not? Look, I know you two didn’t talk much or anything. I remember that when we were together you never mentioned your parents. It was always that emptiness, being with you and not knowing anything about your family. Not knowing how your grandparents were, or your parents, whether you had a dog or even a fish. Your past was always some unreachable place. I lived with a man with no history.
– Lucy, a bird has to learn how to fly and leave the nest, right? – I say it and keep eating.
– Hummm... Yes, but... I don’t know. Your past as well? – She looked down trying to search for words. – And did you go to the service, indeed? How was it? – She looks at me again, with renewed mood.
Another thing about relationships is that men hide things using more words than women do. Many times, to do it, they lie and omit all at once. Sometimes, they both mix and you don’t know what’s true, false or never happened.
The image of the coffin in the green and grey cemetery comes to my mind. Fuzzy and distant; not even in imagination would my dad’s figure be close to me. I got lost for some seconds between thoughts and some kind of void. It’s like seeing that sight right after putting eye drops, or putting eye drops to be able to see it. The torpor I felt at that moment came back to me and I was awaken from such feeling.
– He was... well, dead. – My vision is still lost in the singular fuzzy image. – I wouldn’t wish this to anyone.
– And who would, Dante?
– God. Everything is alive because of Him, just as well as when they are dead.
– Yeah... – Lucy processes the information and, when she didn’t understand or didn’t believe it, she changed subjects, every time. – But did you see him? Say it. You’re being too vague!
– Lucy, I’m a coroner. I got used to seeing death every single day, holidays included. Actually, I see death more than I see you. Death is no stranger to me.
Images of corpses come in flashes to my mind. Women, men, youths, adults, children. From the most natural causes to the most homicidal and the bloodiest. Nonetheless, I nurtured no feelings for those anonymous people. The whitish eyes, the bruise marks, shots, cuts, perforations – nothing hits me. Death was always something empty, negative, the nonexistence of something that one day was. The not being. Browns, blacks, Japanese, Arabs, Caucasians. How could it hit me, even if psychically, if it was just the nonexistence? The only thing that really came to me with some significance were the peace and order of my workplace. Of course that, for some of them, a moment of violence preceded a last breath, but also a last dream, a moment of tranquility. Solitude. In the end, everybody dies alone. And then they were on my table, colorless, heatless, rigor mortis. Soulless. The cut with the scalpel. Snikt. Snikt. Snikt. The removal of organs. Slosh. Slosh. Slosh. The sewing. Fewsik. Fewsik. Fewsik. And the drawer. Clunk!
– But it isn’t any death, Dante. It’s your father’s.
– Death is death... – I stand my ground just to try to change the subject. Lucy would get it. It’s obvious it’s not any death...
– Hummm... and don’t you work today?
– I took the day off. The dead are like that.
– Like what?
– They can wait...
– Then you took the day off? So you’re not feeling well?
– My God, woman! Is this an interrogation?! God damned!
– Oh... sorry, Dante. I... am just worried about you. That’s all. I used to tell you everything but you never told me anything about your childhood, your family. And now this catastrophe which is your dad’s death. It might have impacted you. I can barely imagine what you’re feeling.
The image of a distant cemetery packed with people hits my mind once more. A repelling magnetism affects my body, and in the depths of this memory created by my imagination, I can’t get any closer. There’s still an aversion for that dead man. My dead father. Finally dead.
– No. It’s all right... it’s me who should be apologizing, Lucy.
– Dante... – She quickly gets close like she’s always have done and holds my hand. – If you need anything, I’m right here, OK?
– That’s fine, Lucy. Thank you.
She leans her head on my shoulder and I suddenly realize she’s the one who, in fact, needed consolation. She was hurting for me. Showing all her proximity to me, she was grieving my loss. Thus, lacking someone to comfort, she was free to show her inner feelings, which bled little by little. Even though that blood sprouted from my heart, it was her veins to carry that pain. Living things are like that... they bleed their life.
We stayed there together for a while, our eyes closed, holding hands. We weren’t waiting for anything, we’re just enjoying the moment. The temperature was warm and by some celestial intervention the sepia light filtered through the window, framing us in a kind of old photograph. Time stood still, the arms of the clock stopped to watch us in that tender, light and eternal position.
Like wind whizzing through a window slit, Lucy enjoys the atmosphere her own way:
– Dante, are you awake?
– Uh-hum. – I answer, my eyes still closed. I can feel the smallest muscles in my face moving. I focus to stand still and try and avoid the migraine.
– Why is it you never talk about your parents and your childhood?
A bigger silence seemed to take place. Even the dust, crossing the air in front of the light coming through the window blinds, seemed to slow down. Even light itself, though constant to my now semi-closed eyes, seemed to be split by a singular twilight. Silence and sluggishness reigned until I deeply exhaled their powers:
– Do you really wanna know, Lucy? – I say, still without us looking to each other. I stare at the window, its light vertically split, the dust floating on it, the unveiling.
– Yes, I do. I always had the impression I never got to know you for real. But I couldn’t avoid being close to you. I thought that I didn’t need to know anything in order to like you. Actually, that “void” was attractive, but now... now we’re no longer together and with what happened to your dad, I think that’s important. So, please.
– Fine, Lucy. – I stare closer at that micro cosmos on the shiny light entering the room. Each speckle that levitates and shows itself can be discerned from yet another in that limited space, but only until a breeze blows through the window and those dots are disturbed. – I will tell you...