• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 12
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She said she wanted to die by the ocean which is why they had to live in the city. They both understood that – they had no savings. They had a flat near Bellas Artes and they were proud of their balcony on which neither fit standing because they’d grown lettuce and tomatoes, life despite all the grey air, and they got the morning sunshine and they talked, so much talking, and it always felt good because no matter what happened at work: the unravelling of the moon in the lines of a friend’s hand, or the way kids now wore headphones to shut him off in the metro... Conversations would end with her predicting an eternity by the seaside.

So one day, the grey air in the grey morning or the grey afternoon (it was too grey to tell) took hold of their balcony and he’d said it was fine because they’d soon retire and leave. It will be great, he’d said, because his fingers hurt, music hurt, and she’d said, Maybe now, now you have moons in your hands too. Time to retire.

But as soon as she’d said that, he was okay again, and he played her a tango real loud, one that said that people can’t retire, they just stop getting paid. She hated him, sometimes, hated his tangos, boleros, cuecas, his guitar, his voice and his hands, him. But the sea! It would make them good again. And he’d stop playing his fucking tangos, wouldn’t he? And she would never again have to pretend to see the stars in the tired hands of her friends who were always waiting to be old to wait to feel young.

Next morning, she’d decided to tell him just that. But he’d left. He’d even taken the lettuce. He’d left her his tango records, which she played every night for months after that. Until, for no good reason, the music stopped, she learnt to read her own hands and soon forgot him.



But he’d got to the beach that evening. It was near Punta de Lobos and he was annoyed that the beach the bus had left him at was mostly forest. He couldn’t tell the sound of the ocean from that of trees, or the sand from mud. He couldn’t even see the stars she’d promised him. And he thought of her and... No, after all this time he was going to taste the water, he was going to come out, ignore the black sky and touch his own hair and all its new salty textures. And he’d forget the tangos, that fucking balcony and her fucking plants and her hands and the lies in the stars she saw all over his skin. And so he ate the last piece of lettuce, took his clothes off, and there was nothing but foam, the distant birds and the crashing of waves and his heart gave out before he could even touch the water.