December 31, 2013, Nuremberg (Germany)
The streets of the whole city were decorated with small colored lights that definitely increased Christmas spirit. The silence that was present through the year had now been replaced by the cries of revelry from youngsters who, despite the cold it was doing on the street, had decided to go partying after New Year’s Eve dinner. It was no wonder to see them jumping or screaming, drunk, euphoric… Couples showing their love with no shame under the whistles of their friends.
Valary smiled widely under the folds of her scarf when the first winter snowflakes began to fall and, for a moment, she stopped at the building entrance to admire how it did. The snowflakes brought back to her mind memories of childhood, when every winter she played to build snowmen with her father to later tear them down as if they were in a war where the winners were the ones who laughed the most. She also stopped to think that she had not delighted in such a splendid image for too long.
Her phone began to shake inside the inner pocket of her coat. As she could, she placed the two bags in one hand and unzipped her coat, trying to keep it from slipping out of her hand because of the glove she was wearing.
—¡Fuck! ¡How cold! —she whispered while she pressed the screen’s green key to answer, looking away while she snorted—. What do you want, Mark?
—When are you coming back? —asked the man on the other side of the telephone line—. Guests have been waiting for a while and begin to be impatient.
—Next time you will go to buy the drinks, I’m sick of your complaints, ¡It’s cold out here, Mark! —she answered before ending the call.
Mark could be pretty bossy, grumpy, impossible and sometimes, being by his side was a torture but, in her opinion, that’s what big brothers should be. Inside, he loved her and she loved him too.
She kept the phone in her pocket and while she sighed, fastened her coat again before she took out the keys of another pocket to open the door, pushing it with her butt while she took a bag with the other hand.
When she was inside the building, Valary kicked forward. Then, six small white lights turned on automatically, because it were connected to a movement system. While Valary looked at the elevator like if it were her worst enemy, she shook her head so that the snowflakes fell before wetting her hair, and then, she walked to the elevator like if she were going to fight with it.
Although the building has been built only five years ago, the elevator had failed a lot. For some neighbors, the breakdowns didn’t matter, but Valary did, she had two reasons for that: she had an incredible panic in closed spaces and she lived on 20th floor.
When she pressed the button, the doors opened slowly and, like every time, Valary breathed deeply while she gets on.
Even though she didn’t believe in God, she prayed to herself and pressed the twentieth button whose light stayed fixed.
The doors closed again with the same awkwardness with which they had opened and then, Valary felt a drop of sweat slid down her forehead.
Piped music played below the noise she was making when she breathed. Valary tried to focus her mind on the melody to relax herself, but after a few seconds, when she realized that the instruments that sounded were violins accompanied by a clarinet, her calm was ruined.
Truthfully, optimism wasn’t part of Valary’s nature, so it wasn’t surprising that her mind began to think the elevator mechanism could break and leave her in the air or the cable could break, the elevator could fall and crash into the ground, turning that place into a metal coffin. Luckily, the elevator sometimes worked and when it did, it went faster than Valary’s bad thoughts.
—You should have let me accompany you —said a soft voice on the other side of the doors.
Valary opened her eyes and get out of that nightmarish place to hug César, who laughed at her reaction.
—Come on, it’s not that bad —he said.
—You should be grateful that it has cooperated because if it hadn’t been like that, you should have come down to pick up my buried body under the machinery —she complained, breathing hard.
He was still looking at her with a funny way and she couldn’t resist his contagious smile as she immersed herself completely in the glowing green of his eyes.
They had known each other eight years ago, since she had submitted the request for forensic assistant practice at the hospital he ran. At twenty-two, César had become the youngest doctor and although St. Theressa Hospital was a legacy of his father, that didn’t detract from his merit, as he had been awared the Kettering, Dickson and Buchanan medal for all his research and his contributions throughout his career.
Since the moment their eyes met, their lives seemed to intertwine in some way and although they didn’t consider it appropriate for the boss to had a date with one of their employees, after they met each other they started dating. And there he was now, having become her moral support and making her, unwittingly, feel like a child who needed to be protected.
—Look how excessive you are —he whispered, caressing her cheek before closing the distance with her lips, until they fit into a perfect kiss.
—Val? The guests are wait… —Mark broke off when he saw them—. For god’s sake, go to a hotel!
Both started laughing. Then, Valary broke away from César and gave her brother the bags.
—Why do we want a hotel if we have out apartment? —she answered.
With mocking laughter she entered to the apartment. The guests rose when the saw her arrive, like if they were going to give her some kind of ovation, but they stopped when they saw that her hand were empty.
—Take it easy —she clarified. And then, they had burst into an exalted cry.
That year they had decided to organize the New Year’s Eve dinner in César and Valary’s apartment. She wanted to show her mother –but especially her brother– that she had matured and to organize a dinner like that was the perfect occasion. It had taken a whole afternoon of planning but in the end they made it and, for the first time, her mother treated her like an adult rather than a child.
When dinner came to an end, her mother decided to take Hanae home so they could enjoy the night. Martha loved to see how her sons got along well and wanted them to enjoy themselves too.
The night had just begun. Pandora, one of Valary’s friend, was sitting on one of the sofas with Aleksander, a Mark’s friend and co-worker. They both met at a party organized by Mark’s company. He had invited Valary and she invited her friends. It was love at first sight.
Valary didn’t miss the opportunity to go to bother them, César went to the kitchen with Mark to freeze the bottles, and the way to ease her boredom was to annoy other people with her presence. Maybe that’s why her mother always had considered that Valary was too immature.
—Have you been hungry? —she asked with a certain irony, dropping to the sofa with a laugh.
—You don’t have a boyfriend to fuck up? —Aleksander replied, scolding her with his eyes.
—Usually we do it backwards, but I’ll ask him if he wants to do it you way —she teased.
Pandora let out a laugh and Aleksander reprimanded her with her eyes too, although to be fair, with her he was less hard because then, he hid his face in her neck, tickling her with kisses.
Valary faked a heaving to annoy them, but they no longer paid attention to her, so it stopped being fun.
The other persons who were there were no couples, just fellows in common and acquaintances. Everyone knew what happened at parties, one invited someone and that person invited three more.
A woman, with the look of a porcelain doll, caught her attention from the other side of the room, making a gesture with her finger. Valary pointed herself like if she didn’t know what she was trying to mean and then, got up and went to her, avoiding the drunken people dancing around her.
—What does a woman like you do in a place like this? —Valary asked like she rested one of her hands on the wall, cornering the sexy blue-haired woman, who bit her own lower lip, giving her a seductive look.
—If you’re going to abuse me, please, do it with love —Both began to laugh before hugging—. Have he left you alone too?
—You can bet on it. I swear if César has sought out a younger one, I kill him.
—Younger? Like a school girl? —she laughed.
Valary glared at her, then laughed too.
—I remind you that you are two years younger than me, and my brother is something like Methuselah’s friend.
—I like interesting mature ones —Audrey said.
—Well… My brother is no interesting at all.
—That’s because you see him like a brother, but I can assure you…
—Shut up! —Valary shut her up covering her mouth with her hand—. I’m not interested in what you do with my brother.
The conversation was interrupted when the two men who formed their stupid topic, appeared on the scene. Mark kissed Audrey’s cheek and Valary fake a heaving again. Her brother noticed it and stuck out his tongue, making her remember that she had lived a similar situation not long ago.
—Can we talk, Val? —César asked while took her hand and pulled her slightly.
—This smells like a wedding! —exclaimed Audrey, laughing.
—Wedding! —everyone shouted in unison, because they had drunk.
Valary gave Audrey one last murderous look but the screams had already spread among those people, so she had to follow the path of the screams with that same look, guided by the hand of César to avoid hitting anything.
The guests stopped screaming before she finished the round of contemptuous looks. Valary already knew, if someone didn’t follow the joke after five seconds, everyone lost attention.
Terrace was three meters square area, furnished with pots with striking flowers that her mother brought her every time she visited her. In fact, almost all the decoration of that area had been made by her mother. Valary had no choice but to accept after throwing her away the inside decoration options she had. It was her only option if she didn’t want to live in an apartment surrounded by flowered things and, although she had nothing against flowers, it was not her decorating ideal at all.
Despite being a closed space conditioned to eat or dine there even on rainy days, if someone approached at railing, could enjoy the views of the entire city.
Valary had not even realized that they had gone outdoors, she was completely immersed in her thoughts, debating herself between what was bothering her the most, if the fact that they tease her or that in the end they were right. César and her had many years of relationship and at least two living together. Without knowing why, Valary had already assumed that it was he with whom she would spend the rest of her life.
When César took her hands again and invited her to sit in one of the chairs that were there, her heart get overexcited.
He knelt on the floor, rested his hands on Valary’s knees and his forehead on her thighs. She bit her lip, had held him in that position more times that she could remember but her heart was still racing in such a way that she even thought that she had begun to sweat. César raised his head again to look at her and it was then that she noticed that something was not going as it should. Those tears on his face were not happiness at all. Then her chest shrunk and her heart was reduced to the size of a pinhead.
—Hey, what’s wrong? Are you okay? —she asked as she slid her thumbs down his cheeks in an attempt to wipe away the tears.
—I’m go away —he said harshly and at the same time, heartbroken.
—What? What do you mean? —his gestures, his voice, his tears and his words, contradicted each other.
Valary didn’t know if she should think of it as a cruel joke, even let out a soft laugh, but César didn’t smile.
—I’m going to Alaska —he said—. I have been offered a job there.
—But that’s no reason to cry…
—I leave you —he interrupted her.
—Why? Is a new job a reason for you to throw away seven years?
—Long-distance relationships don’t usually last long.
—You have not even asked me if I want to go with you.
—I don’t want you to come with me.
The last sentence hurt her more than the whole conversation. Everything she believed about her relationship with César was nothing more that ridiculous thoughts of a woman who, despite knowing that love didn’t last forever, dreamed of all the nonsense that play in romantic movies.
César sat up and wiped his pants with his hands, removing any traces of dust he might have stick from the floor. Then, he dried his tears as he headed back to the doors to protect himself from the cold, leaving her there alone. Valary was in shock, had no even been able to shed a single tear. She kept wondering what had happened, what had changed him to tell her all those things, when at the beginning of the evening they had been so happy.
The doors of the terrace opened and closed twice, the first time it brought a painful and insufferable calm, the second time, a comforting hug. When Valary was caught by the loving care of her friends, still not fully understanding what was happening, she had no choice but to reciprocate to try to make them believe that she was not as sad as she seemed.
—How are you? —Pandora was the first to speak, she had always been the firmly of them, or at least, that was what it had seemed in all those years. Unlike her, Audrey had red eyes, seemed to have been crying. She was the most empathic and sensitive of the group, but to that it had to add the fact that since they met, she and César had become very good friends.
Despite what she wanted to believe, Valary sighed in answer, leaned back in the chair and dropped her arms, desisting in that stupid act. She wasn’t fine and didn’t want to pretend she was.
Inside, the party seemed to subside. She hadn’t turned to check it, but the voices had decreased, there were no more screams and she had heard the front door every now and then.
Through her mind it began to cross all kinds of scenes, from those where a woman spiteful burned the valuables things of who until then had been her partner, to the ice cream days and drama by yourself. She wondered if she would go through those phases.
Denial, isolation, anger, negotiation and acceptance.
She was sure there was one she would not debase herself, she wasn’t going to negotiate with César to he come back to her, she was too proud to do that. As far as the other phases concerned, she wasn’t sure. Each and every one seemed to shout her and she didn’t know if she would be able to resist them.
She knew that the world was not over, she was not a silly girl. She liked romantic comedies, but she made fun of them adding that love didn’t last forever. But one thing was to make fun of the actors, and quite another, to live that storm of emotions.
That was going to be hard.April 23, 2019, 1:40 p.m. 0 Report Embed 119
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