I sold my soul for love, isn’t it something commendable?
Though doomed I deem myself to roam,
every All Hallows night, seeking unflappably,
a solitary soul, able to love me.
Versión en español: aquí.
Just like every first of November since I lost my wife, a little more than six years ago, I woke up early. I drew back the curtains of the bedroom and a beaming morning sun bathed my face. “Dear me! Who would say that November has already come”, I thought resignedly while I was flopping down into the armchair, imbued with that characteristic melancholy of the Autumn, which, especially that night, had been increased by an strange dream that I was trying to remember now. “Undoubtedly I had dreamed of her. The pillow is soaked in tears… there is no doubt. Poor woman, how alone she left me”.
I went down to the street, looking for the flower shop of my good and old friend, Jose Vicente. Every year, he makes with maestry a flower arrangement so that I can take it to my wife’s grave.
-Good morning Jose Vicente, how’s work going?
-Phew! All the night, for a change, like every year. Good morning. Come, come here. I have it ready. Did you think I would forget it, didn’t you?- he said, making obvious the characteristic tiredness of that who spends sleepless nights working.
-Thanks. No. I no longer come to order it. I have been really busy… – I babbled.
-We barely see you. You must go out more often. When was the last time you came to the Sundays round?- he said while he was tying together the flowers with a bow.
-I know, but… Understand me. Me, alone… you- I said, a little bit worried due to the way the conversation was going to.
-This afternoon you can come home if you want. I’m gonna organize a meal. All these have already confirmed their attendance. Will you come?
-No… I mean, I don’t know. I can’t refuse, really- I answered without much confidence.
-Come on man! You have to come. It’s been six years ever since your wife’s death and every time you are more unsociable. You are going to waste away, like a raisin- he said giving a hint of a big smile.
-Yes, ok… I will go. Don’t worry- I replied to convince him.
I left again, with the flowers in-hand and sad because of the memory of my dead wife, on my way to the cemetery. It was crowded. Like every year, there were women damp wiping the sepulchres of their relatives, while their husbands discussed in a circle, smoking like Cossacks and slapping the cheerful children who played hide-and-seek among the tombs. I got to the place where my beloved wife’s body rests. I put the flower arrangement in the planter and, as usual, ended up crying while caressing her photo. “How lonely you left me. Why did you have to go? I loved you above everything. Damned, accursed my life is, if I were more courageous, I…I…” those bitter thoughts were nailed in the depth of my heart, like long and sharp knives in the stone of my despair.
Summoning the courage, I wiped away my tears and took my way home, crestfallen, shattered. Everything I saw around me was happiness, that happiness that was once taken away of me, at one stroke; smiling couples walking along the street. Alone, I sadly remembered how we two used to parade, making plans about children, home, everything. At the same time, I damned them, hasty for the anger, I asked myself: “Why them and not me…? Jose Vicente is right, I’m becoming sullen, and also despicable. However, I can’t avoid it”. I have never felt close to philanthropic thoughts by the way, but I haven’t ever felt this hatred, which seemingly grows every day. Every time I went out in the street, everything reminded me to my wife. When I met my friends, I deemed them so attached to their corresponding wives, so happy, while I am every time more lonely and old. My sadness reached such a high point that, even misled by the alcohol, I wasn’t able to have fun at least for a minute. I couldn’t overcome my wife’s death.
I came back home, cooked something to eat and went to sleep for a while. Of course, Jose Vicente’s proposal didn’t give me pleasure at all, I was not going to go. But he knew better than me that if he didn’t insist, I wouldn’t go. Thus, he called me to insist again and I couldn’t say no. I took my coat, since the afternoon was threatening to rain, and went out in the street. When I arrived to my good friend’s house, I saw what I had been fearing; there they were with all their wives, each one with his respective, laughing and smiling while Jose Vicente’s wife served coffee. All of them greeted me warmly. It was obvious that they were surprised at my presence. They were somehow tense, as forced, all to make me feel as comfortable as possible. Nevertheless, for me, it didn’t do but bothering me even more. I’ve never liked being in the spotlight in any meeting, I’ve always preferred to go as unnoticed as possible.
The evening seemed endless to me. When the coffee and the cakes were finished, Jose Vicente offered us some cups of a 12 year-old whisky that he had kept in his basement. After a couple of glugs, the conversation started to flow more freely. Every time I felt more and more tense, almost angry. Juan and Cristina, who were just to my right, took their hands and began to kiss each other. I couldn’t handle it. Juan, none other than him, the most womanizer of the group. Just two years of marriage and he has already started an affair with his secretary. Unjustifiably, by the bye, hasty for the anger, probably caused by my lack of habit and tolerance to whisky, I got up pretending to leave.
-I’m leaving. Good night to all- I said really irritated.
-But, what are you saying? Don’t leave now- said the good Jose Vicente.
-I can bear it no more! Do you think I don’t realize? You are laughing at me, at my misfortune. And I won’t allow that! Goodbye!- I said, fallen prey to an unprecedented rage.
-But, what have we done?- said all of them, almost at the same time while Jose Vicente was taking my arm.
-Shut up, Juan!- I said to him in reproach and condemnation-. You have been always an adulterer and now you are pretending to be a good husband.
-I don’t accept that..!- Juan yelled with the mailed fist.
-It’s the truth!- I said showing my drunkenness -Let me alone, alone! Why you and not me…? What have I done wrong? Fuck!- and I left the room slamming the door.
There was not a single repentance thought in my mind while I was coming back home. I was completely fed up, there had been three long years enduring peeks and chit-chats. “They deserve it” I repeted to myself while lurching. The night had fallen and as it had threatened before, the sky brought rain, a gently but bone-wrenching rain. Ignoring it, I kept on wandering around, cursing everybody, almost touching the mood of anger, which brought along some stupid thoughts to my mind. “There is no God! There can’t exist such a tyrant god! I have never hurt anybody… Damn! Why me? Give her back to me! You are so cruel, yes, that’s what you are! You knew she was everything to me and even so, you took her from me. I damn you, once and a million times more! I would sell… Yes, I would sell my soul to the devil in order to see her one more time, if for only a moment…” Exhausted, I sat down on the first bench I found on my way. I took a deep breath, since my heart was going to jump out of my chest. After a couple of seconds, a pleasant feeling appeared -I wouldn’t know how to explain it- alleviated for a moment my sorrow. It was really weird; I felt as if that drizzling rain bathing my face was putting the flames of wrath out of my thought.
Despite not being too late, there wasn’t anybody on the street. Although well, it is known that in cold and rainy days people prefer to stay at home. On the other side of the street, I saw a silhouette. It was walking towards me, crestfallen and carrying an umbrella which didn’t allow me to identify that face. While it was approaching to me, I could guess it was a woman, there was no doubt. Suddenly, just passing in front of me, she crumbled to the floor. I rapidly got up and ran to assist her. I helped her to stand up and she seemed to bounce back. Immediately after gazing her face, my heart skipped a beat. The resemblance was unbelievable. This unknown girl looked like my dead wife, they were almost identical. She looked at me a little confused, scared, her face was pale, maybe due to the faint, and her big black eyes looked back and forth very fast.
-What has happened? Where am I?- she repeated insistently.
-Nothing, relax. You fainted. Don’t worry.- I said trying to calm her.
-Who are you? Where am I? – she asked barely trying to get up.
-Relax. You have crumbled to the floor just in front of me, maybe because of a faint. I think due to the blow you may suffer kind of amnesia. It’s raining a lot, come to my house. I live nearby. I will call a doctor if you want, or someone else- I said taking her arm.
On the way back home, any of us barely said a word. She was really stunned mainly due to the blow. Once indoors, I heated some coffee and offered a towel to her, since she was completely soaked. Staring at her in the light, I could reaffirm the striking resemblance. I took her to the dining-room to make her as comfortable as possible. There, I had a photo of my wife. I looked at both and although she seemed not to notice, my nerves were on edge. When she finished the cup of coffee, I offered her my phone. I asked if she wanted me to call the emergency services, just in case she needed assistance, but she refused arguing that it would go. She tried to call home, but she couldn’t remember any telephone number. Like a gentleman, I offered her the possibility to take a bath, some clean clothes, even to stay until she felt better. To my surprise, since I thought she was going to decline my proposal, she happily accepted.
She went in the bathroom. Meanwhile, I searched in my wardrobe some clothes of my wife that I still kept. I was completely nervous, almost overexcited because of such a strange situation. I left the clean clothes next to the bathroom’s door, which she warmly thanked from the other side. That calmed me a little, and I went to cook something for dinner.
When she walked through the kitchen’s door, dressed with my wife’s clothes, the resemblance became more evident. Despite not knowing why at all, I felt an immense happiness at the moment I saw her, so pretty, so beautiful like she was. I didn’t know why, but that unknown girl had brought back a little hope to my wounded heart. “How can it be possible? Was it a second chance? Were my pleadings heard in heaven?” Soon I got rid of all those thoughts. “These are nonsense. Neither is this girl my wife, nor is she here by divine grace. Damn! I’m a paranoid… I meet the first stranger I run into and I am already making comparisons. She just looks like her a little”.
The dinner elapsed calmly. She seemed to feel comfortable, something that was somehow strange, due to the situation, but it was also true that her spontaneity excited me in excess. When the dinner came to an end, she took my hand.
-You seem to be a solitary man, isn’t it? Furthermore, your expression tells me that you must have suffered. Perhaps, for a question of love?- she asked, suggesting it as obvious.
-Ah? Yes… Well, really I’m widowed… my wife… died three…well, a little more than three years ago- I babbled nervously.
-I’m sorry. She was young, wasn’t she? And also beautiful, as far as I can see in that photo. Is she?- she asked while coming near to the photo of the dining-room.
-Yes, she is. You know what? Don’t take it as an offence, but staring at you, I’ve just realized that you have a subtle resemblance with her. I mean, you two are really beautiful- and I smiled roguishly, which led to a stupid laugh.
-Do you think so? I’m not so sure, but thank you for the compliment- she blushed-, you are really nice too- she said, deeply staring at me while she was playing with my hair.
I couldn’t say if it was her, me, the wine, or the weird situation, but we ended up kissing. I took her to the bedroom. Lied down on the bed, we kissed and caressed each other to a high level of excitation. She rooted out the sorrow I had been feeling for so long. Indeed, I must admit that she seemed to be my own wife, not a completely unknown. When we finished, I couldn’t avoid it, and I came clean.
-I know that this is really hurried, so strange I’d say, but, you have no idea how lonely I was feeling before you appeared- I frankly said, and without having any other option, the words started to come directly from my heart-. I had been thinking about the worst, even about… But you are here now. Please, don’t leave me never. I love you, I really feel I love you- I told her, intoxicated with emotion.
Surprisingly for me, the girl burst into tears. Her eyes shed big tears, which bathed her face, as if an immense sorrow bothered her. I couldn’t understand it at all, since I felt really glad because of the amazing night. We together had have fun and I had tried to be as polite as possible. I felt I really loved her but I didn’t know what to say. Why would she feel that sorrow?
-Don’t cry, I’m honestly speaking. I have the strong feeling that there can be chemistry between us. I really feel I love you- I said starting to cry.
-I know it. That is which makes me even sadder. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. Forgive me-she replied in between sobs.
-Forgive you for what? There is nothing to forgive. Just the opposite. It has been a really beautiful night.
The girl, not being able to suppress herself, kept on crying, even harder. I still didn’t understand anything. It was half past seven. The first light beams slipped throught the window. She sat up and it seemed that she didn’t want to look me into the eyes. Then, her face, soaked with tears, seemed so different, to my complete incomprehension.
-I must thank you. Thank you so much. I have to leave. I’m so sorry for what I’ve done to you. You will soon understand that it wasn’t in my hands. Thank you, you have helped to save my soul. I’ll never forget you, I ensure you. Thanks and sorry- she said with a peaceful and calm voice.
Trembling, I looked at her face. Petrified on the bed, I realized that that girl wasn’t the same girl I had spent the night with. Her face, her hair, her body, nothing was the same. Just her tears, which bathed almost all her face, betrayed her identity. I had been tricked, undoubtedly. The girl slowly disappeared, as vanishing into nothing. I tried to get up in vain. My body lay rigid on the bed at the same time a thunderous voice took over my head.
-I’ve been true to my word. You now will keep yours. Your soul will be mine, mine until you deliver to me the love of another unfortunate soul like you.
-But, How? What’s this?- I asked really afraid.
-Ha, ha, ha -laughed the strange voice of my mind-. Now you don’t want to remember. Like eveybody. You said you would sell your soul to have a moment with your beloved wife. Tonight you have had her in front of you, in fact, you have possessed her, or is it that you haven’t recognized her? Be glad that you have released a soul that had been afflicted for so long. You have given what she wanted and she has maken you happy for one night. What else do you want? I’ve already kept my word; now it’s your turn – said the voice vanishing.
I couldn’t remember how much time is from that day. Now I am condemned to pay my debt. Each All Hallows night, I went out, wandering soul, seeking some solitary soul, like I was, in order to achieve its love, that love that releases me from this prison and let me rest in peace.
Do you feel alone? Do you need some company?
Javier Benito Morales.
Translator: Laura García Olmedo.
Illustrator: Rafael Rodrigo Toledo.
[Original text in spanish, published in February, 9th, 2015 here]
All hallows night (Noche de difuntos) by Javier Benito Morales/Laura García Olmedo/Rafael Rodrigo Toledo is licensed under a Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-CompartirIgual 4.0 Internacional License.
Acento cultural, número 14, septiembre 2015, ISSN: 2386-7213
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