Dedicado, de nuevo, a la invencible Cristina Fallarás (@fallaras). Leed A la puta calle (http://www.sigueleyendo.es/a-la-puta-calle-2/) “It’s all about threes.” Luisa tapped the pen against
Cath’s wrist. “It’s the third bounced check that’ll nail you.”
“Third time lucky.” Cath smiled. “I always loved the
“Three on a match,” said Luisa. “You remember that? We
thought we’d get pregnant.”
“Worrying about getting pregnant, then worrying about
not,” Cath said. “Seems like all we did by growing up was change one worry for
another.” She fanned the pile of bills due and letters from the bank and hit
the panic button. “They’re gonna take the house, aren’t they, Lu?”
“It’s the third month’s unpaid rent that lets them
evict you, the third defaulted mortgage payment that forecloses your home,” Luisa
quoted. She put the pen down and stroked Cath’s hand until she stilled it. “Third
on a match,” she repeated. “Remember how we used to go bowling, and there was
that team that practiced in the last lane?”
“They were so good.”
“Remember how they teased us about getting a turkey,
and we thought it had something to do with getting pregnant, that they were a
bunch of pervs?”
Cath nodded. “And Holly’s mother wouldn’t let her come
for a whole month.”
Luisa took up the pen and pulled the scratch pad
toward her. “Well, sometimes your luck turns and you get three strikes in a
row. Almost nobody knows how or why. You just get lucky.” She began going over
the sums one more time, determined to find a way out.
“Three strikes in a row for a turkey,” Cath said. “But
in baseball, it’s three strikes, you’re out.” She rubbed at her eyes. “I already
owe everyone and their brother money.”
Luisa stood and stretched. “You know what my Abuelita
used to say? ‘Donde comen dos, comen tres’.”
She gave Cat’s shoulder a squeeze. “There’s always room for one more.”
Cat leaned her head onto her friend’s sharp hipbone. “I
know, Lu, and I’m grateful.” She looked up to head off a hiccup. “But for how
It's your birthday, again. Except that it's not anymore. 'Happy Birthday', I think, but it's not really happy either, is it?
I texted your father to invite him to lunch - somewhere at a beach, or maybe that place with the snails near Girona - but he is offline, too.
It's hot again, another scorcher, and your daughter got up late (teenagers!) and I can't decide where to go, what to do. You always drove to those funky places out in the middle of nowhere; I've only found one again, and it was closed, shuttered up, abandoned.
What might we have done to celebrate your birthday? Maybe we would have gone to France, where your daughter wants to go to practice her French. But where, how? I haven't got the wherewithal to take her.
Remember how much our French sucked in Carcassonne? How the waiter spoke Spanish anyway so it really didn't matter? How we visited Machado's grave, saw all the bits of poetry and small tragedies people had left there, and thought how sad to be buried with your mother?
If I had let him, your father would have stuck your ashes in with your mother, in with her parents, in that pantheon to too little too late. One thing I do know is how much you don't belong there.
Where you belong is here.
Here, where I remain unable to grasp the idea of the world without you in it. Grief? Oh, yes, grief is a process - I learned that the hard way - and I've done all that, but this world still refuses to make sense without you.
So your birthday is still your birthday. We are going to find a cool, quiet place and order a meal you would have liked, and I will remember a new anecdote to relate. (I'm afraid that this year your daughter will roll her eyes. Teenagers!)
We might split one of those ice cream desserts you used to love. Because today will always be your birthday.
1 - 4 - 3
GRASP (verb) 3 : to lay hold of with the mind : comprehend
Alice got up
from her desk and walked through the small office space, past Joan the typist,
Chuck the salesman and Tom the accountant. She knocked at the open door, where her
father stood talking with his partner Don, and Alex, the comptroller.
“Who is it?”
shrugged. “He didn’t say.”
“Go ask who
it is.” Her father turned back to Don.
returned, passing by Tom and Chuck and Joan, smiling aimlessly, unsure of the
pertinent office etiquette. She sat and picked up the phone.
“May I ask
who’s calling?” She remembered the line from some TV show.
just a moment.”
Alice got up
from her desk and walked past Joan, who smiled, and Chuck and Tom. She tapped
at the doorframe of her father’s office.
he asked, without looking up from a flowchart.
at him for a beat or two. Seriously? she thought. She turned away and walked past
Tom and Chuck and Joan.
learning the business,’ she mouthed to Joan who was typing furiously. Even in
her head she could hear how weak it sounded. She still wasn’t even sure exactly
what the business was.
up the phone.
Mr. Dunlop. What company are you calling from?”
Lighting, thank you.”
her footsteps as she walked past Joan, who stopped typing to gaze at her, past
Chuck, who had yet to look up from the phone, and past Tom. She stood in the
doorway as Don but not her father looked up.
“Ed Dunlop from
turned, the phone to his ear.
he said. “Take a message, I’m on another call.”
and walked past Tom, Chuck, Joan, her face burning a bright pink.
By the end
of the summer, Alice had learned how to be a secretary.
Unaccustomed to social interaction, Laura is exhausted by
the end of the first day. The workshop is intense, everyone’s brain on overdrive
in the effort to solve complicated linguistic riddles, but also to charm and
engage. No one wants to be left out when the members band together, their idiosyncrasies
laid out alongside tricky idiomatic phrases to wobble and teeter on common
ground until they devolve into knowing looks and inside jokes. Laura poses a
convincing argument in the morning, hears a tongue-in-cheek suggestion fall
flat at midday and, finally, in the late afternoon, provokes one thrilling
outburst of laughter.
Dinner provides an unexpected
shock of high-school-cafeteria angst, which the adult Laura squelches by crossing
to the first empty seat. She is intensely grateful to the woman seated before
her, whose expansiveness cloaks the entire table in a languescent, tipsy camaraderie
that follows them back out to the square. The night is unEnglish, sultry and
blurry-edged. Laura saunters past the pub, follows conversing bodies back
towards the dorm-like rooms. When they reach the green, which the indomitable
heatwave has turned pale brown, Laura finds that only she and Susan are left. They
stand together under the bleary lamplight, transfixed.
“Oh! The bunnies!” she says,
and Susan grabs her wrist.
“Aren’t they marvellous?”
The endless lawn is dotted
with rabbits in various stages of adorability, white tails luminous under the
“You know they often hop over
each other in play,” whispers Susan and, as if on cue, three small bunnies race
across the grass and tumble together, hopping and nipping. Laura laughs, then
shivers in the heat. Reluctantly, she and Susan leave the rabbits, and call
parting niceties as they move away.
Laura cranks the window of her
stifling room wide open. A flutter of regret leaves her bewildered, and for the
briefest moment she feels the weight of her solitude drop through her stomach.
When she goes to brush her teeth at the unfamiliar sink, she pointedly ignores
her own reflection.
333 words for , including BAND (verb) 3: to
gather together : unite