It had been a long time since she had seen Marcela. Inés wondered how the passage of time had treated her.
Before the phone call that had inserted the voice into her life, Inés had almost forgotten some of her passages.
But Marcela had appeared, carrying their common baggage piggyback.
And with her, him.
She arrived at the house five minutes after the agreed time. The bricks in sight and the pine in the entrance way still conserved their démodé shine. Her hand hesitated before ringing the bell.
Finally she did.
A white face appeared in the hole in the door.
It was Marcela.
They looked at each other for a second. While she entered in that kind of black hole, Inés discerned those silent ruins of memory, a few rustic forms outside of time. And outside, with her brittle hands and angular face, the face that Reynosa had fallen in love with, Marcela looked her in the eyes as though she was trying to discover a hidden truth.
"Come in, Inés, come in," she said, while she showed her a few papers on the table.
While Marcela went toward the kitchen, with that adolescent stride and her hair always long, she went to the table read one the pages:
"The windows, the stains of talent on the floor, different ways of constructing all that is magic and precious. That is how it is, poor is only an adjective that other people use."
A sad smile spread on Inés ´s face. "She couldn't forget him," she thought, "she keeps writing about him."
"I remember the day I met him," Marcela recalled when she returned from the kitchen with a trey and two cups of coffee. "So like him, with his expression of eternal tiredness, perhaps the same one that we all have in some forgotten place, isn't it?"
She set the trey on the table and put two teaspoons of sugar in each cup without asking Inés how she liked coffee. Then she continued:
"He was like a flying fish lost in the city, bah!, who knows what is beautiful and dense and fleeting , who has seen it, who knows if you and I even deserve to be here while he..."
"Write that down, write it," Inés said while she drank from one of the cups.
"You´re speaking the way you write."
But Marcela didn´t seem to be listening.
The last lights of the afternoon came in through the skylight. It is the only new detail in the house from other times, thought Inés.
"Yes, I know, it´s not a question of deserving," Marcela added later, while she scribbled on the piece of paper. "The round of mate just got shorter and that hurts," she concluded.
A heavy silence came over them, and the aroma of the coffee wasn´t enough against the crudeness of the sentence.
The air in that house in Morena was stuffy and the words took shape and unexpected transformations.
And so they remembered, as though had both meant to, the moment that they had met, that whim of destiny, as Marcela often said.
The event had been a banquet for surrealists and Dadaists; the excuse, a few paintings of Duchamp that in theory remained hidden in some part of Paris.
"And how can we know that, here, from our modest perch of followers?" Marcela had asked.
"I don´t see anything wrong with following. Thats how one starts, and you never stop doing it," Inés had said, defiant.
And then he appeared, with his strange elegance, his decent bohemia even in the faded green jacket, trying to calm his spirits.
They shared the table and later their lives. Inés became his agent and Marcela his wife.
But everything, twenty years later, had changed in a way that they had never imagined.
And Reynoso wan´t there.
They sat in a couch in the foyer. Marcela scribbled and wrote phrases down while Inés resigned herself to listen, as though she was simply accompanying Marcela on that trip, the intense walking in the hidden corners of memory.
"How I want to cry!," said Marcela. "Do you remember how he shone on nights like this? He painted like an animal. Yes, yes, the sadness overwhelms me. I can´t talk about it."
Inés got up and turned on the lights.
"The other day I was in the artist's studio." Marcela continued from the couch. "I went in slowly so that the pain wouldn´t win. I was sure that he was watching me somewhere. Maybe he is inside one of his paintings and all of this is a lie!"
Inés asked herself why she was still there; she didn´t want to sit down, she didn´t want to be still, so she walked around, pacing.
Surrounded by pain and hydrangeas that hung from the roof, she shot a glance that that beige door, so close.
And so Inés went hard, and was sorry for having accepted a proposal whose motive she had ignored.
"Look at how things happened," Marcela continued. "If only one didn´t chase flying fish like him with threats and stupidity. The devil´s tail came down on us. I would had told him that faith was more then a symbol, I read it is a book," she added later, smiling, while she played with the pencil in her mouth.
Inés continued that trip that she did not want to take, and felt again the moment that she saw Reynoso for the first time holding hands with Marcela, a little bit after the meeting that the three of them had met.
Marcela´s voice brought her back to the humidity of the room.
"Doubt whatever you like," I shouted at him one day, "But don´t doubt what a word can´t mean! I remember that looked at me as though he didn´t have eyes. Come here,Inés, I want to show you something.
Inés hesitated, as though the act of following Marcela made her complicit with something that she didn't want to be a part of. She looked for excuses to go to that house, but she didn't find them.
They walked together in the hallway and they arrived until the beige door.
They went in.
Now they were in the artist's studio.
Inés felt her head overflow. She looked at Marcela´s hand as though she was face to face with him.
She knew that she had been wrong to come. Marcela confessed: "Do you know something? It bothers me to only see him in my dreams." Inés shifted her glance so that she wouldn´t have to look at Marcela´s eyes and saw herself there once again, talking with him about everything that you only said in moments far from fear, and felt his hands again, his hair, the enviable joy of his canvases, his chest, his paintbrushes, his sincere smile, his face, his eyes that went with his face, his conviction, his talent, and that was good, very good, he told her, feel me, don´t think me.
Inés was trembling.
Suddenly, a noise started her. Marcela had taken off a few wooden planks and was telling her that some of the works had not been completed, perhaps they were somewhere around here, that he was very jealous of his imagination.
Inés forced herself to relax. The meeting had no other motives then to add a few more of Reynoso´s painting to the gallery. She wanted to ask Marcela. But she kept talking and she thought that the same way that Reynoso was possessed by his art, she was possessed by her memory.
She saw him again, painting naked next to her while Marcela and gone on a trip. But Marcela´s voice remained.
"And paint, just paint. The most fantastic things you paint little by little, they are born like everything else is born. First, a sketch. Then, a shadow that gives form, and in the meantime, the certainty of movement that twinkles and twinkles."
Inés wanted to explode.
She watched as Marcela piled the planks against a wall, beside the window, as though she was discovering a candle to tend to another one. Just like that, killing with her large hands all of that reality that she had already begun to doubt.
"How can we escape from all of this?" Inés asked.
"It looks like no-one can escape from their own story," Marcela answered with a different voice.
Everything started to live in an accelerated process.
The shots of reality.The lie told crime and insanity. A fiery glance. A truer fire then the one in the newspapers.Reynoso´s words stated to fall from the roof, towards the windows, to get out through the cracks in the park, like arrows shot from the blue.
Inés followed Marcela and searched her eyes for her own desperation.
She asked how she hadn´t realized, how the world had been reduced to that room, to that pocket of strained air.
The artist's studio.
But Marcela had the same gaze as the dinner with the surrealists and Dadaists, and she ended up discovering a painting that was at at floor level.
Inés walked over and they looked at it together.
In it they saw the image of a room with a huge drawing board in the center and paintings like windows distributed everywhere, in one of the corners, beside a half-way open beige door, two older women watched the scene.
Gustavo Di Pace