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from the June 2013 issue

Harpooned Woman

 Two lonelinesses that sometimes came together
to feed the ego of destruction.

Marilin Roque


Upon a bed of frustrations, bed of lost hopes, a ghost ship bed, suddenly too wide, too deep, too chimerical, I watch the smoke of our cigarettes fade in the air, watch the puffs of smoke float and dissipate, disappear without trace, suddenly substituted by other gusts, vaporous and unpredictable. I will never again be able to enter this room. I will never again be able to enter my room, nor lie upon my bed, nor look at the beams of my ceiling, nor the walls, nor the mirror. The mirror in front of the bed holds those arabesques of smoke, the mirror more than the other objects guards in its memory gestures and words and smells, the mirror, artifice and betrayal. I was seated upon the bed, you on the floor. My right hand held the comb and with it I was caressing your hair, so fine, so light, and after the comb passed my other hand in an even lighter caress. Sometimes it brushed your neck, the edge of your back, an ear, perhaps. I paused, untangling some knot, looked at our reflection, saw your half-closed eyes. More than lovers, we were curanderas. I stub out the butt in the ashtray, reach for a magazine, flip through it, I'm looking for an image or a word, something to break the web I'm trapped in, something to stop the hemorrhage of memories, anything; I force myself to read, I almost didn't catch the meanng of the sentences and suddenly I shudder. "I felt the desire to catch a girl," she says. To pick up a girl, a solitary woman, bring her to my house, lay her on my bed, undress her slowly, kiss her slowly. "What's the hurry?" after the first kisses. "Why the rush?" I didn't understand the question, I didn't know any other way to kiss that wasn't trying to swallow some lips and a tongue that were trying to swallow my lips and tongue, until that so-revealing confession: "When I kiss you, sometimes I imagine that your mouth is your pussy." . . . and then I could never imagine anything other than a mouth-pussy, and my kisses become slow and penetrating, while my fantasies offered me a pussy-mouth, something dark and sublime, something vibrant, until I had it before me ("all yours") and that emptiness in the place where one’s viscera are supposed to be. I frantically search through my clothes; ("pick up a girl") that night I need to get dressed up, that night I want to be overwhelming, devastating, perfect. I choose an ambiguous combination, both elegant and daring at the same time, and go down to bathe; the water will wash away the remains of this lethargy, restoring my essence. "I want you to bathe me forever." I closed my eyes, your hand wrapped me in foam, I felt the waves, the salt, the tide; by your side, all time was hazy. You embraced me, murmuring, "Don't be afraid, I won't let you fall" . . . Then you dried me, dressed me; I felt like such a little girl, so candid and innocent that later, in bed, I wanted to be the mother, the breast, and I had her together with a confession, "My breasts, before you touched them for the first time, were completely insensitive" . . . I was worried. We were getting too close to certain limits, there were too many things "for the first time" for both of us, too much proximity. I kept tonguing your nipples in a less-naïve frolic, while I desperately clung to you. I look at myself at last before going out, I'm dazzling, only my eyes shine darker than my outfit, a shame that at night one can't wear sunglasses, my eyes could scare anyone who looks deep into them. I half-close them and convince myself that under the shadow of my lashes the blaze is concealed. I smile at my double and leave. I feel euphoric, ready for any adventure, for any excess. We bit one another mercilessly. Like beasts who loved violently, we filled our bodies with bites, about to tear off bits of flesh. When caresses and kisses weren't enough, we lost control and threw ourselves upon one another in search of more flesh and blood, perhaps. The mere sound of the word "blood" made us tremble relentlessly. More than once we swore to kill ourselves, planning our mutual murders or suicides or both. "I want to ask you for a favor." You looked at me and I saw that you couldn't control your eyes, tears escaped like fishes. "Tell me, love." "Kiss me" . . . In a flash, I knelt before you and locked myself to your mouth in which, almost impetuously, you had placed a razor blade. Your lips wrapped around mine, your tongue offered me its wetness and the cold of metal. I licked the edge, swallowed the thick salt born under the sharp movement of our mouths, I closed my eyes and we were absent for an eternity, as we filled up with sticky incisions. I walk the entire Prado without paying attention to the calls shouted at me by all kinds of individuals ("pick up a girl"). I look at the benches hopefully, but only discover intertwined couples, stretched-out couples, locked-together couples. I don't stop, leaving behind a trace of my perfume, oil of sandalwood, and the tinkle of my silver bells. Images intermingled in my head, visions of vulvas with long, licking tongues dripping saliva, kissing one another with razor blades, bleeding, absorbing blood and their mutual secretions into their uteruses and pulsing, giving birth to tremendous orgasms. "Have you never made love to a woman?" you asked. I shook my head no. I had an abyss in my abdomen and a naked woman in front of me. On reaching the Malecón, I stop for a few moments. It's the classic dilemma: if you take the right-hand path you'll reach one place, if you opt for the left you'll reach another and if you go straight, you'll have to face the dragon . . . In reality, to the left was the path toward your house. ("Pick up a girl . . .") I quickly walked in the opposite direction, controlling my impulses. "Finger me." "I don't know how to." "Do it like you would do it for yourself." "Let me smoke a ciagrette." . . . I took one from the box, lit it, noticed how my hands and lips trembled. I didn't think I was prepared to face the situation. I had spent days masturbating, imagining time and again that body trembling with pleasure in my arms, every inch of that skin under my touch, that deepest hidden wetness, that most-violent furrow. I inhaled all the smoke that fit into my lungs and closed my eyes. Again I saw those fragmented figures: vulvas licking one another with red tongues that dripped blood, kisses between breasts that rubbed swollen nipples, the rhythmic movement of buttocks opening and closing like the wings of fat and hungry birds . . . "Are you going to do it?" you insisted. I sat before the mirror and opened my legs. "Come." . . . I don't know what made me think that the Malecón was full of women just waiting for me to show up to go with me off to the end of the world. The Malecón, beside the couples, is full of men who only hope I'll pass by so they can say anything to me and I'll offer to accompany them to the end of the world. But the men treat me carelessly. More than that, the men infuriate me. I try not to look at them so I don't respond to their vulgarities. Various cars stop beside me, their drivers–always men–inviting me on a nocturnal spin. I turn my face away, hiding my abhorrance. It seems impossible that in this city of lonely women I can't find a single one. I pick up my pace, about to regret this outing, and I urgently need to masturbate. Never before have I felt such an excitement of my nerves as when my hands brush your sex. I lost myself and the mirror was useless with two women shaking their impatient bodies, useless the stick of incense, useless those fantasies, almost absurd. Only touch, the warm dew beneath the skin of the fingers, neck a few milimeters from mouth, broken breathing and a superhuman effort to not bite, not destroy, not smash, to supress the blind fury that runs through my veins and slides in a burning fluid between my thighs, to tame my exasperated hands, restrain my impulses in order to fully enjoy that first time. I cross the avenue and quickly head up toward the Hotel Nacional. Some Italian men hassle me at the entrance, I avoid them, a Spaniard tries to stop me in the lobby, I slip away, some Germans look at me, smiling, from the table in the garden. I move away from all of them to the very end, looking for the most distant bench in front of the sea, its back to the others, and I order a beer from a waiter with an unhealthy expression. Later, with the frozen beer in my left hand and my right delicately concealed between my legs, I look at the sea, the waves, I try to mimic their smooth and deep movements, their rhythm. But it wasn't enough to brush my fingers across that volatile crevice, I needed to verify its taste, to feel its folds close by, to re-examine its urgencies. And my mouth had an unexpected gift from the tenderest and most sensitive kiss it had ever received in its life, my tongue sunk in a sea of hot magma, while waves pounded my lips. "Don't torture me any more and fuck me," you murmured and again something within me turned over and again my vision went cloudy, leaving me on the banks of a tremulous and grandiose universe. I forced myself not to close my eyes, the overwhelming wave in my belly coinciding with the large wave that broke against the wall and over it, splashing the sidewalk of the Malecón. The can of beer slides from my hand and falls at my feet, spraying out. I watch it roll toward the grass, watch the sea calm itself little by little, breathe with greater gentleness, feel my pulse quiet, a certain dark pain in the depths of my belly, a few moments more to completely control myself and leave that place. It was like a leap into the abyss, fingers softly sinking as a knife sinks into the wound, and they were sucked in by the pulpy cleft that, after swallowing them, began to compress them with irregular and absorbent movements. I leave the hotel with the intention of catching a taxi home, I feel completely empty, my head hurts. My fingers, completely independent from me, moved in that humid refuge, increasingly more humid, while flashes of color exploded in my head, and snatches of melodies, words, abstract. Later, I licked your nectar from my fingers languidly, it was the taste of the deed. "Sabes a mar." I wanted to repeat that phrase that you had asked some time ago. "¿Sabes amar?" But you took the lead, making the most unbelievable and fantastic confession that I could imagine: "You're the first woman in my life that I've let penetrate me." . . . Already crossing the street I bump into a man who doesn't look at me as the others do. He's stopped somewhat unsteadily, hugging a small suitcase and trembling. The expression on his face opens a small emptiness within me, moves me. "Do you feel unwell?" I ask. "Yes." . . . "What's wrong?" He doesn't answer. "Are you drunk?" I guess. "Yes." . . . He trembles, he doesn't stop trembling. "Where do you live?" "In Alamar." His voice is almost a whisper. "Come on, I'll take you home in a taxi." I hold him up under his arm. With weaving steps he follows me. "I don't have money for the taxi," he murmurs, "I drank it all, all." . . . He's very young, somewhere between twenty and twenty-three. "I'll give you the money, come on," I say, leading him carefully. I could bring him home with me, I think. What for? I think. "Why are you doing this?" he asks. "Why are you taking care of me?" "I don't know . . . Forget it." "You're the most incredible woman I've met in my life. I've never met anyone like you. Tell me your name, how can I find you, thank you?" It seems some of the drunkenness has worn off. "Forget it," I repeat, "I'm not doing anything extraordinary, you felt unwell and I'm helping you." I wave my arm and stop a taxi. I give him the twenty-peso bill that I had brought for my return home with the girl I was going to pick up. "Take care. You know how to get home alone?" "Thank you." He seems about to cry. "But tell me your name, just the name." I close the door without answering. But those powerful fantasies with blood and butchered meat return. I frighten myself, where did such cruelty come from? They were terrible days, days of constant masturbation, of greater and greater disturbance, of unsatisfied, insatiable desires. "Your stories are so hot," you said, and I didn't dare tell you of my unwritten stories, my untellable stories, because no one can stand to read them or listen to them, not even I can bear to tell them or write them. I masturbate without stopping, at all times, in all places, thinking darkly that only in both of us dying in a mutation, only bleeding to death, opening our flesh, biting one another, chewing one another, devouring one another, only destroying one another, pulverizing and mixing the remains, stirring them into an inhuman mass, only then, perhaps, could I achieve a misery resembling pleasure. I take out a cigarette, light it unhurriedly and take the path home. I walk on the sidewalk across from the wall, avoiding the men with their impertinent courting and the couples with their unbearable exhibitionism. One night I caressed for a long time your deepest skin, until I felt beneath my tongue how the path slowly but surely turned toward the secret universe. I reveled in delaying the entrance, sucking with delight, capturing every barely perceptible movement, each liquid caprice, then placing the knife in my mouth. "Like that, my love, like that," you whimpered. We had sailed beyond the frontiers. I kissed generously, opening furrows with each contortion, and I drank from the wells found there. "More," you begged, "more." . . . The blade slid, ruthless and sly, between two voracious mouths, blood ran down my chin and dripped between your cheeks like lazy lava. There was a moment of apparent peace and then your shout split the night into a thousand fragments. I climb the interminable steps of my building, trying to avoid the puddles of urine, I walk along the long hallway, forcing myself to not think–to not think–to not think. In the darkness, I seem to see a blurry shadow before the door to my house, I approach, unable to believe it, but I recognize you. I lean against the column and look at you watching me: like two hunting sharks, both knowing how it will all end.

© Anna Lidia Vega Serova. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Lawrence Schimel. All rights reserved.

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