I need to tell you something

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Wait. Please don’t go. There’s something I need to tell you. Could you listen to me? Yes, I know you have work to do. Yes, I know you didn’t sleep well last night. But I really need to tell you something.

Remember that party two months ago, Alexa’s birthday party? You went home early, you had to work the next morning and I really wanted to stay a bit longer. Well, as I told we got out of the bar at 10 past 12.

I went straight home. That’s what I told you and it was a lie.

The night was cold and rain was just waiting for the perfect moment to start. Alexa was as drunk as usual, too many margaritas, and she kept arguing with Alejandro. Do you remember how she’s always drunk at the end of parties and starts to imagine he’s cheating on her with every waitress, every girl…?

That night Alejandro couldn’t bear it anymore. He kept his hands inside his pockets, hiding his anger inside his tight fists. Alexa kept arguing she didn’t want to see him ever again so her brother offered to take her home.

A taxi took them away while we remained on the sidewalk, in silence. I was about to say goodbye to Alejandro when he asked me if I wanted one last beer before we went home.

I felt he didn’t want to be alone. He had bags under his green eyes, and his voice was broken. I couldn’t just go, leaving him there.

We walked by the dark street behind el Parque del Poblado, searching for a bar. The idea was to have one beer, only one…

It was a little uncomfortable. You know Alejandro and I were never too close. He is Alexa’s boyfriend and I am one of her college friends. I think it was the first time we were alone together and we had nothing to say to each other.

We found a table inside one dusty bar and he went to buy the beers. I was thinking of you when he left. I’d felt you were so far away from me that night as if you were waiting for the first excuse to go home. Yes, I know you’re now working and I’m still a student, with loads of free time. But I’ve been missing you, that’s it…

“Luisa, do you have any cash? They don’t accept debit cards here…”

Leaving my thoughts behind, I nodded and turned back to search for my bag, that I’d left hanging on the chair, but I found nothing.

We searched all around the bar, we asked the barman and everyone inside the bar but no one knew anything about it. My ID, my credit card, my money, my phone, that letter you once gave me when I was having a sad day… Everything was in there!

The barman told us there was a police station just around the corner. We went running, while I tried not to cry. I was so tired of this fucking city.

The station was almost empty, there was only one policeman on shift.

“We can do nothing about it,” was the only thing he said while he yawned without covering his mouth. “You should’ve used your head before leaving your bag unatte…”

Before he ended the sentence, I saw how Alejandro took his left fist out of his pocket and punched the police man right in his nose. The sound I remember was similar to a baseball bat hitting a ball. Then, everything stayed in silence.

Alejo pulled my forearm and we started to run as if we were being chased by death itself. I’m not even sure if someone followed us.

I don’t know how long we ran, maybe seven blocks or more. We only stopped when we knew nobody was chasing us. I threw myself on the sidewalk and he sat by my side. We looked at each other as we kept trying to catch our breath when a first rain drop landed on my nose.

Forgetting we were almost strangers, we burst into laughter. People walked beside us and looked at us as if we were drunk. Maybe that has happened to you, that moment when so many bad things are happening that the only thing left to do is to laugh?

There we were, in the middle of a dark street. No money, no phone. His girlfriend was probably an alcoholic, my boyfriend was getting bored of our student environment and he’d just punched a police man right in the face without a coherent reason. It was so funny, that we just couldn’t breathe.

He took his phone out of his pocket and his battery was running out. I noticed he had 10 missed calls from Alexa. He closed his phone. The rain was growing stronger. “My house is not very far from here, we could call a taxi from there if you don’t mind walking. I have some money there I could lend you,” he said.

Our conversation had no silences that night. Even with the rain and the cold wind, we just kept on walking, talking about old songs, new dreams, life… We needed each other that night.

I now think that walk home reminded me of how we used to be, at the beginning. I miss those times when we were getting closer to each other, but we were too shy to kiss so we talked a lot. When did our infinite talks run away from us?

We arrived at his apartment when the night was beginning to fade away. From the balcony, I could see how the sun slowly painted the city with yellow. I leant on the railing while he searched for a towel to lend me. His place was small and unfurnished. But all I remember is the yellow on the sky.

When he placed the towel on my shoulders I realised how cold I was. His fingers felt warm. He stayed there, behind me. The city was waking up.

I know I’m not supposed to be telling this, but I need you to know that when he placed his arm around my waist, something broke inside of me. I realised how much I missed you. I leant my forehead on his chest and we stayed in silence.

How can I explain this to you? How can I tell you that I was the one who turned around and kissed him the way I’ve been wanting to kiss you, biting the right corner of his mouth?

We looked at each other, surprised at what was just happening. He waited for me to tell him what to do, ask for my apologies, run away, maybe call Alexa and keep trying to swim in these complicated relationships that so many times taste like shit. I barely looked at him when I searched for a second kiss. He was a man, and thank god men don’t think that much. It felt good to be kissing him.

I remember what happened next as floating words. Kisses. Hands. Fingers. My wet hair. Regret. Necks. Shirts. Chests. Fingers playing. Between my legs. The cold of the tiles. Yellow cities. Guilt. You. You. You.

How can I describe to you the shape and colour of the silence that came after all?

I don’t know why you never ask me the reason of my silence. Maybe you’re still blind. Maybe you know. But if you ever wonder, I’m always doing this, my love, imagining the way to explain to you about the night that I searched for you in someone else’s body.

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Walking down the Oxford Canal

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Two years ago you were walking down the Oxford canal. You’d been told that was the river where Lewis Carroll had navigated while telling his little friend the story of Alice in Wonderland for the first time. You were trying to take it all in because that was supposed to be the reason for this trip. But it was a cold afternoon, the late winter wind ran through your ears and under cheap gloves.

For a couple of days, you had rented a room at the house of an old man who carried too much loneliness behind his back. His door was covered by undergrowth. His living room crowded with small worthless objects. His cupboard full of tomato soup, tins of it! Someone could have locked himself inside that house for three years and there would still be tomato soup to eat.

You don’t remember his name now, but you do remember he stopped you in the middle of each sentence to correct that way you used to put-together the words in a language that wasn’t yours. And that he insisted that it didn’t make sense to eat pasta with a fork, and passed you a spoon. And the Korean tourists, so well-behaved and quiet, had taken their bags very early in the morning and now there was only you and him.

You could have gone too. Said goodbye with sweet kindness and wandered one last time around the centre of Oxford. But he asked you if you wanted a cup of coffee before you went. Knowing you were Colombian, he wanted to impress you with the special brand he only used on special occasions. You couldn’t tell him your tongue barely tasted the difference, you took the cup and chose the armchair with the back to the window.

And you told him about your family, about your dad who was counting the days for you to come back, about your little brother that every night used to ask you if you wanted to join him for a smoke on the balcony and you had to remind him you didn’t smoke. You told him about your roommates and why sometimes it was so weird to live with a guy from Ghana who watched Mexican soap operas and a girl from India who had grown up with servants as brothers.

During lunch, he told you about his guests. About the American dude who still sent him postcards from every new city he visited, of the Spanish mum and her four kids which he offered to take care of while she went to the centre to learn about architecture. At the end of the afternoon, he told you he would guide you to the beginning of the canal, to take a picture of you you’ve already lost.

You forgot about him, didn’t you? But, what was there to remember, heavy steps that made the wood crunch with the overweight of 65 years of English solitude and shelves filled with canned food. And while you tried to think about Lewis Carroll, while you walked your way to the train station that would take you back to Bath and felt the fever slowly taking over your body, you could only think of him coming home from his walk and sitting on the green couch, in his silent house with his dust objects and postcards.

And when Mum called, you spoke to her about the church towers that seemed to be touching the cloudy sky and the houseboats at the riverbank and the voices from the children’s choir that broke the voice that didn’t come out of your throat. Because those were the images from England you were supposed to talk about, the England they promised you when you paid the millions you didn’t have and got on that plane.

But now with a two-year distance from the memory, when you search for the photos of that trip and can’t find them, you realise that England was more like him. Like the old man who had to open his door to strangers to hear voices inside his house once in awhile.