Translated from Spanish by Curtis Bauer
I fell in love with a boy when I was seven years old. I could have fallen in love with a girl, but in my school the boys and girls were separated, so I fell in love with the only girl within reach: she was Massimo P., an extremely timid and sensitive boy who kept to himself. It was the first day of school, we were at recess, and Massimo came up to me and asked if I could tie his shoes. He looked helpless surrounded by so many shouting boys running helter-skelter around the playground, and I was smitten by his delicate beauty. You look like a girl, I told him, and he, perhaps accustomed to hearing such a thing, merely smiled. Recess ended and we went back to the classroom. His seat was two rows from mine, but not once did he turn around to look at me, and I thought he’d forgotten about me. Then it was time for recitation. Each of us opened our book and prepared to read a section of the story out loud. A few boys read before the teacher pointed at Massimo. His finger pressed down at the start of the paragraph, he uttered the first word; rather, he stuttered it. He stumbled over the second word, too, and again over the next one. He read so badly that he couldn’t finish the sentence, the teacher lost his patience and told another student to continue reading. I accepted the sad truth: Massimo P., despite his angelic appearance, was a complete nitwit. Then it was my turn. I made a sudden decision: I would read worse than Massimo. If I had followed through with it, I think today I would be a better man than I am. If there are decisive events in our childhood, this was one of them; after intentionally making mistakes throughout the first line, I realized I couldn’t cripple one more word, and I began to read with such fluency that the teacher praised me with a nod of admiration. This is good reading , he said, and I think it was then that I had an inkling that I could have a vocation writing books, at almost the same moment I first tasted betrayal. I have always thought that these two vocations are inextricably linked.
Fabio Morábito was born in Egypt, grew up in Italy, and relocated to Mexico when he was fifteen. He has published four books of poetry, four short-story collections, one book of essays and two novels, and has translated to Spanish the work of many great Italian poets of the twentieth century, including Eugenio Montale and Patrizia Cavalli. Morábito has been awarded numerous prizes, most recently the Xavier Villaurrutia Prize, Mexico’s highest literary award, for Home Reading Service (2019). His work has been translated into several languages. He lives in Mexico City.
Curtis Bauer is a poet and translator of prose and poetry from Spanish. He is the recipient of PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant and a Banff International Literary Translation Centre fellowship. His translation of Jeannette Clariond’s Image of Absence won the International Latino Book Award for Best Notification Book Translation from Spanish to English. Bauer teaches creative writing and comparative literature at Texas Tech University.
“Scrittore Traditore” first appeared in TLR Heaven (Summer 2016).