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MARIAS, Javier



The Infatuations

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You could say that I wished them all the best in the world, as if they were characters in a novel or a film for whom one is rooting right from the start, knowing that something bad is going to happen to them, that at some point, things will go horribly wrong, otherwise there would be no novel or film. In real life, though, there was no reason why that should be the case, and I expected to continue seeing them every morning exactly as they were, without ever sensing between them a unilateral or mutual coolness, or that they had nothing to say and were impatient to be rid of each other, a look of reciprocal irritation or indifference on their faces. They were the brief, modest spectacle that lifted my mood before I went to work at the publishing house to wrestle with my megalomaniac boss and his horrible authors. If Luisa and Desvern did not appear for a few days, I would miss them and face my day's work with a heavier heart. In a way, without realizing it or intending to, I felt indebted to them, they helped me get through the day and allowed me to fantasize about their life, which I imagined to be unblemished, so much so that I was glad not to be able to confirm this view or find out more, and thus risk breaking the temporary spell (my own life was full of blemishes, and the truth is that I didn't give the couple another thought until the following morning, while I sat on the bus cursing because I'd had to get up so early, which is something I loathe). I would have liked to give them something similar in exchange, but how could I? They didn't need me or, perhaps, anyone: I was almost invisible, erased by their contentment. A couple of times when he left, having first, as usual, kissed Luisa on the lips—she never remained seated for that kiss, but stood up to reciprocate it—he would give me a slight nod, almost a bow, having first looked up and half-raised one hand to say goodbye to the waiters, as if I were just another waiter, a female one. His observant wife made a similar gesture when I left—always after him and before her—on the same two occasions when her husband had been courteous enough to do so. But when I tried to return that gesture with my own even slighter nod, both he and she had looked away and didn't even see me. They were so quick, or so prudent.

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