Echoes from the past
To Esperanza Temprano
The streets have been filling with dolls for days. It is said that they came out of trash bins and dumping sites. Most of them are so brand-new they’re still packaged in their coffins. Among them I could recognise my Barbies, the blonde ones which I threw in the garbage some years ago. The neighbours shoot at them from the balconies. They fall, but then they get up and keep walking. We don’t dare to get out in the street because, from the dark depths of their dead gaze, they know we’re scared. Their uncanny presence forces us to remember a prosperous past.
Eulogio, the man of the fifth
While waiting for the queue to move forward, he has been talking with a guy like him. It happens when you spend an hour or two waiting. It doesn’t really matter what the queue is for: sometimes it’s bread, or a special offer; sometimes the pension or simply the boredom, most of the times it’s just to put loneliness aside.
The guy he had been talking with – whose name was Fernando, as he said – was even more talkative than him and gave him trouble. He tried several times to tell about his youngest, but every time he started talking, the guy interrupted him to talk about his own sons.
Frustrated, he found an excuse and left. Nobody noticed it, as the queue hadn’t moved. Strolling through the city he saw another queue for a film première, and joined it. After a while a serious and taciturn man, with an expression of concern on his face, arrived. After the usual questions, they started talking and he told him what happened the other night with the dog. He was shocked, no wonders. His interest encouraged him to tell about his youngest. The queue was barely moving. Turning back, he saw it even continued around the corner. When he had almost arrived at the ticket office, he said goodbye and moved to the end of the queue. He placed himself behind a chubby woman, who seemed to be chatty. He got it right, clearly he has a good amount of experience with conversation and women. He told her about his eldest. The poor woman was astounded. Some people are easily moved. She even shed a tear. The queue was moving forward. He said he was going to buy the newspaper and asked her to keep his place, but he didn’t plan to come back. He looked at his watch and saw it was time to go home.
He will sit at the kitchen table. He will heat up some leftovers, or have some canned food. Tomorrow he’s going to the mall. He heard from the chubby woman that a talk show host is coming there for book signings. What an amazing chance. After dinner, he’ll watch the news and one of those TV shows where human misery appears in all its glory. So, tomorrow he will have some brand-new conversation topics for whatever queue.
From the book: Luna de perigeo, Enkuadres, 2016. Elena Casero (Valencia, 1954) is a tourism business specialist and part-time retiree at Ford España S.L., although she would have rather been a musician. She published the books Tango sin memoria (1996), Demasiado Tarde (2004), Tribulaciones de un sicario (2009), Discordancias (2011), and Donde nunca pasa nada (2014). She participated in several collective works and her stories are published in various magazines and anthologies.