Lucy is walking down the street, seeing herself and Dante reflected on the windows, drinking something while enjoying some fresh air; in a square bench or bookstore reading together some classic they liked a lot; at the entrance of a theater or cinema; in the car, the driver’s seat or even the back seat; or just walking ... but always together, holding hands.
Sometimes our hands met during sleep.
Is it the right time to say I love him? Lucy thinks. Her heart seems to pulse like a drum in the veins of her hands. Does he realize I’m nervous?
Lucy is walking hand in hand with Dante in a park. The steps are slow. Dante breathes, conscious of each lung movement. Lucy just looks at him with the corner of her eye, deciphering him through the horizon of his gaze. Her hand squeezes Dante’s stronger than usual. Her palm pulses strong and warm, while Dante’s remains calm and cool. He interprets such a squeeze as affection, as been desired, but Lucy wasn’t trying to hold his hand but rather her own courage that escaped her.
“Is it too soon?”
Lucy hugs Dante in the restaurant line where she would sing. The house is full. Before going on stage, Dante pulls her and kisses her, wishing her good luck. But Lucy doesn’t close her eyes, she looks at him as if she had a better view. Dante has his eyes closed while she cowardly observes him; cowardly takes advantage of such vulnerable moment. She assesses it.
“Or is it too late?”
Lucy is leaning on Dante’s bare chest in bed. The sheet covers their bodies in the warm, sun-lit morning. The typical scent of dawn also penetrates them and after making love, both, exhausted, let their bodies adrift. While Dante recovers in sleep, Lucy still stares at him for hours, as if she could penetrate his world of dreams, unconscious by an optical osmosis.
“Are we in the same world? In tune?”
My memories of the last few days with Lucy sends me to the middle of the street the other night two weeks ago, when I smelled a perfume. A nice perfume, penetrating, but that I had already smelled somewhere else on another body. I couldn’t tell where, exactly. Citric. Yet in another day and place I smelled that fragrance, but now I recalled nothing. So, looking in every window... Snik; Bank... Funtap; Door... Lasni; Car... Vrummpa; Alley... Tisk. I tried to find the woman with that perfume by seeing myself with other women.
But when I finally got it, I immediately let the image go.
She wasn’t someone who mattered, anyway.
Neither did her name come to mind, just a silhouette or a blurry face at most. It seems that the only information I could ever recall from that woman was her scent. And my usual recurring feeling of disappointment.
Just a few days later, the first argument between the two of us took place at Lucy’s home. Here I feel safe. Her hands gesture upwards like an orchestra conductor in the most critical part of his symphony, and Dante just stands there with a look he could only have learned from the dead with whom he worked. The energies seem to expand on Lucy like a big bang, while Dante refuses to leave his monochromatic state.
“I think that’s how it would end up if I wanted to force a talk with Dante now.”
It wasn’t long before Lucy got a nervous tic on her hands.
“Maybe it’s too early to discuss these things.”
A few days later, she was biting her nails.
“He just opened up about his childhood...”
Her hands touched her elbows more often, rubbing them even if they weren’t itching.
“And his relationship with his father...”
In a failed attempt to restrain herself, she strived to have her hands in her pockets or to always have something in her hands.
“I have to be more subtle...”
But Dante rescues them from the darkness of her pockets every time.
“I can’t force him to say ‘I love you’ just because I love him.”
On another day I took Lucy to my place, once more. The idea was to have some wine and cook some food. But as soon as she showed her back in her dress when going to the kitchen, I couldn’t resist. I lowered her arms and the black stalks of fabric on her shoulder, until her clothes inexplicably faded. Only then, in front of her naked white body, I begun to kiss her.
Shoulder, neck, ear, but her mouth, too. With her still facing the other way, turning her face only to the point where I’m nothing but a blur in her peripheral vision, I limit myself to that same place.
Silence, again, until the next day.
Dinner was forgotten.
We fasted together.
Lucy’s in the car with Dante. In one of his random strolls through the city to eat, go to the movies or just find some good place to spend the afternoon on Dante’s day off, Lucy sees herself in frames in the car, right there, in that same city. She also sees herself in mental photos. And in so many other media. However, she just wanted to split time in as many pieces as possible to, like Dante when he was a child, uselessly try to prolong it, time, she knew was falling through the cracks.
– Dante, you have to be more responsible. – Lucy breaks the engine silence.
Better to address it indirectly.
– What do you mean, Lucy? – Dante says, still not looking to her, his hands on the wheel.
– You have to decide your life once and for all. I think you should quit being a coroner and start dealing with live people. – Lucy says, with a straight look at emptiness to avoid making eye contact with Dante.
Dante waited a full minute to think, to wait for her to look him into his eyes, and then reply.
– I like the silence, Lucy.
As usual, Dante’s responses never match Lucy’s expectations. They are brief and antagonize her desires, so she sighs and begins again:
– That’s not the question. You deserve more, you know? And to be responsible, you have to do things you don’t like. You don’t need a job in which you are not recognized for your talent; in which your patients are already dead; and in which your boss wants to keep you down there as much as possible, because you’re good at what you do. Just be responsible, Dante. Think about it.
He nods with yet more silence.
Another Dantesque action that antagonizes what Lucy wanted: to hear an answer.
On another day, Dante, taking some time off from Peter, Jessica and Lucy, drives by the same streets he has so many times being with Lucy—and with many, many other women. The images bring him one memory for each moment. One of them, of a car in the dark; another, in the woods; another, losing balance in a bathroom with his leg inside the sink; another, under a bridge in complete darkness; another one, in an exhibition nobody wanted to see; another, in a store dresser; yet another, inside the movie theater, and so on...
He gulped at Lucy’s words in the intermission of each act.
“What the hell did she mean with that?”
And one more...
“Yeah... Maybe it’s time to take the next step in this fucking life.”
In a nightclub with purple lights over Lucy, she sings to a dressed-up audience. Her voice cuts through the darkness of the place. The stage looks like an altar. She, in a white dress, her light touch on the microphone and her delicate gesture in the air, drags everyone’s eyes and ears like quicksand. Dante, in the lower right corner of the place, had taken his distance. In his moment of gloomy solitude, he wants to have his thoughts to himself, even if he hears Lucy’s voice. However, even so, he feels he’s only one under the light.
The only one to be exposed.
“Maybe I just have to make you fall in love with me again.”
A verse is sung.
“Like the first time we met.”
“Then we can get married again.”
And one more...
“And resume stronger... being more intimate...”
I’m still in the place where Lucy was singing. Somehow, my colors got sucked out even more and, there in that bar, far from Lucy’s stage, I feel myself in black and white. I stir my drink and its white liquid, sometimes black, formed a hypnotic alcoholic swirl. But it didn’t get any other color. Suddenly, but slowly, I turn my gaze and see that everybody’s looking at me, even if they’re just heads without a face.
– Lady... bartender, another drink, please...”
With my head still trying to get out of this illusion, I get up and shake it like trying to get rid of my insanity.
– ... – she moved her lips.
– What did you say?!
Darkness fills my eyes. Gravity has all materiality where I am. I am deaf, I sit back as if a pistol had been pointed to—and touched—my temple. Suddenly, it’s cold. Lightly and hesitantly I turn my look, despite my blurred vision. I see Lucy approaching slowly, step by step, inch by inch, coming to the bar where I was, precisely the night after my father’s death and funeral. Right in that nightclub I came back to, from the brunette’s house in the first chapter, and didn’t go back with my friends just to go out with the woman in red leather jacket, at the bar.
Like a mirror breaking as Lucy gets even closer, the voice of the bartender—still in her red jacket—seems like a mental thunder.
– I said I’m pregnant with you...