Cortázar is a great bus seat companion, that book over my lap, helping pretend that whatever is going on around me, isn’t.
There I am, huge moving vehicle, a bright blue neon light over my head, women-objectifying music blasting in the radio, loud, but not loud enough to block the sound of trembling glass of the cheap windows, shaky hand trying to highlight four lines with a #2h drawing pencil.
I find it very ironic, the attempt of highlighting with black chalk, irony of the same sort of throwing a birthday party inside a funeral home.
I bet the author would attend to the gathering.
The stranger sitting beside me shuffles in his seat, I can tell he is trying to make out what I’ve drawn in the upper right corner of the last chapter page.
“It’s a building with a couple of windows lit” I whisper to myself, a steady side eyed gaze posed on him, he is too busy staring at the doodle to notice.
And in a way I’m grateful for the lack of attention, better not to open a discussion because:
a) If there is a rule of human interaction set in public transport, it’s that it must be minimal: dry politeness, 2 second smiles, window staring, seat lending to elders and people with children. Otherwise things may take the turn of a crime/thriller low budget film, opening scene is me describing the plot to the unknown passenger, next shot is me laying in the pavement and my book torn apart beside me; the name of the movie would resemble something like “the cliffhanger” (the title has to be punny)
b) It would be real hard to explain why I don’t use any colored pencils for the windows that are supposedly filled with light, I’d have to explain why I don’t wish for my book to be polluted with the fake optimism of yellow, how I think that the words and language are colorful enough. I would let my mouth run and I’d start roaming around the topic of how words should pop as fireworks in your mind, and I wish to hide that beauty, selfish me. I leave the book to seem as normal and plain as posible, until its read and you get to see the pigments that great writing and mood setting allows.
c) I am too proud to allow myself to fall into the act of brushing shoulders with the absolute cliché of opening up to a stranger on the bus. It’s been seen, it’s been said, there are too many romantic comedies that’ve exploited the concept.
That’s an awful lot of things to tell to someone who could be a sociopath, then again, in their shoes, it’s an awful lot to hear from someone that for all you know, could be a sociopath also.
So I decline on the idea of giving any explanation of my mediocre picasso-esque art.
“I’m not going to be one of them, cliché fulfillers” I tell myself as my subconscious wishes for someone to ask about it, ambivalent mind, reject and longing for recognition, hoping that I may seem half as interesting as I think I am, trying to find my way in a crowd I pretend I don’t have a care for, I am people-loving person hidden under the mask of an absolute no care giver. Lately I’ve come to think that maybe I am more approachable than what I pretend not to be. I try to seem tough and cold, but there is warmth inside me, I try to keep it there, but it radiates off me, I find it dangerous in a way, in this world if people see a fire first thing they try to do is put it off, no blame in these words.
Any way I’m trailing off, I was on my way to trail off to something else, I was going to discuss another ironic part of the situation.
How the book uses the phrase “people in pink scrubs”
to refer to the mentally ill, but mentions we are all just the same, just missing the outfit. And then, I look up from the book for the first time in 20 minutes, to realize that a lot of people have been switched by new faces. it made me wonder where they’d been picked up, where were they headed, was someone expecting them there, was there a place to go back to? After a brief look to the characters around me I proceeded to imagine us all in pink piyamas, and for a second I could see us all attending to a ball in a funeral home. I crash the pencil against the paper and mark a line in chapter 52 that reads “los enfermos bien, gracias” (The patients are all right, thank you) referring to the pink suited people, line which I found comforting, considering in my mind we were all dressed in pink now.
It seemed fitting.
I made a mental note: I’ll get home, put the book down and look for a yellow highlighter, because drawing pencils seem to make my mind drift away in a world of monologues and metaphors that I don’t think help out that late at night.
Bottom line is, this is a book for people like you and me, if you can see yourself dressed in pink in this moment, give it a read.
Just to spark your curiosity, here is one of my most beloved paragraphs, and a weird view in romance, as I said, for people like you and me.
I touch your mouth, with one finger I touch the edge of your mouth, I draw it as it if it came out of my hand, as if your mouth was for the first time just barely open, and closing my eyes is enough to undo it and start over. Each time I create the mouth I desire, the mouth that my hand chooses and draws for you on your face, one mouth chosen from all, chosen by me with sovereign freedom to draw with my hand on your face, and for some random chance I seek not to understand, it perfectly matches your smiling mouth, beneath the one my hand draws for you.
You look at me, you look at me closely, each time closer and then we play cyclops, we look at each other closer each time and our eyes grow, they grow closer, they overlap and the cyclops look at each other, breathing confusion, their mouths find each other and fight warmly, biting with their lips, resting their tongues lightly on their teeth, playing in their caverns where the heavy air comes and goes with the scent of an old perfume and silence. Then my hands want to hide in your hair, slowly stroke the depth of your hair while we kiss with mouths full of flowers or fish, of living movements, of dark fragrance. And if we bite each other, the pain is sweet, and if we drown in a short and terrible surge of breath, that instant death is beauty. And there is a single saliva and a single flavor of ripe fruit, and I can feel you shiver against me like a moon on the water.
Allow yourself moments like this, read this book and be immerse in it’s world.
By Sofía Ávila
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