Slowness

Translated from Spanish by Curtis Bauer.

Fernando and Alicia meet, like each other, and begin to date. She lives alone, he with his parents. One afternoon she asks him to walk home with her, because she needs to change clothes for a dinner. She invites him to come up, but he hesitates and tells her he isn’t ready to see her home yet. She insists, but he repeats that he’s not ready. Alicia likes his modesty. I’ll cover your eyes, she tells him. They climb the stairs to her apartment; she covers his eyes with a handkerchief, has him sit on the sofa in the living room, and goes to her room to change. When she returns, she offers him coffee. They talk, kiss, have another cup of coffee, all while he’s still blindfolded. Do you like my house? Alicia asks, and Fernando replies that he finds it very comfortable. Then come for dinner tomorrow, she says. He hesitates, but Alicia assures him that she’ll blindfold him again. When he arrives the following day, she does just that: she blindfolds him and gives him a tour of the apartment, placing objects in his hand so he might recognize them by touch, including a photo of her parents. She thumps each object so Fernando can hear its sound. She finishes the acoustic tour by dragging chairs, breaking a glass, opening the kitchen faucets, and flushing the toilet. Afterwards she leads him to her room and there, on the bed, she offers herself to him without asking him to remove his blindfold. Over the following weeks they make love the same way. He now moves through the apartment with ease, hardly running into the furniture like he did the first days, and, finally, he tells her that he’s ready. The next time he comes to her apartment he’s no longer wearing the blindfold, and when she opens the door, he doesn’t move, but stands still, looking at the living room and the dining room he knows so well. Is it how you imagined? she asks, trembling. It’s never the way one imagines it to be, he responds. Take your time, she tells him, and goes to her room, closing the door behind her. He studies the entire apartment, fondles each object almost without looking, anxious at the idea that he will see her naked body, and, slowly, he approaches her bedroom where she is waiting nervously, and hoping that he likes the whole house, including her body.

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Fabio Morábito lives in Mexico City, where he teaches in the Autonomous University of Mexico. He translates from Italian and is the author of four books of poetry, five books of short stories, two novels, and three books of essays (including El idioma materno).

Curtis Bauer is a poet (most recently The Real Cause for Your Absence) and a translator of poetry and prose from Spanish (most recently Eros Is More by Juan Antonio González Iglesias and From Behind What Landscape by Luis Muñoz). He teaches at Texas Tech University.

“Slowness” originally appeared in Heaven (TLR Fall 2016)