Words for Julia


At half past six in the morning, Luis wakes up with a contracture across his entire body, as though his worst enemy from the nightmare of the early hours of this morning had run him over with a truck. In the dark, he picks up his mobile from the bedside table and switches off airplane mode, goes into the page of his bank and No, that customer who promised last week to deposit the amount he has owed him for months hasn’t made the transfer yet.

Before getting out of bed, he asks God to help him on this new day. Because for yet another day, he is going to need it.

By a quarter past seven Luis has already: pulled up the blinds of the entire house, lit a candle, spoken to his father in heaven, prepared breakfast for the children and their snacks for school, put the new face masks in the pockets of their backpacks, showered and dressed. Then he wakes the children up and the warmth of their little bodies, their hugs while they are still sleeping as he takes them into the kitchen for breakfast, make him feel like the strongest man in the world. And that in spite of everything, he will be able to cope with everything today as well.

At a quarter past eight, in the car on the way to school, they listen to classical music on the radio. The children like it, and that makes Luis happy. Then he drops them off in front of the school – he would stay with them all day, learning sums and subtractions and playing ball in the playground. But those days are over, life is serious now.

One hour later he goes into the office. The face masks of his colleagues prevent him from seeing half of their faces. But he likes to imagine their smiles, just like when he could see them. As he passes between their desks, he notices each one of them; he knows about their hopes and fears, he admires and loves them and that gives him the strength to speak to them as though they were members of his family, and actually, in a way, they are.

He switches the computer on – the same two hundred e-mails as usual trying to sell him the same things in a way so impersonal that he asks himself, Why would they do it like that? He would like to tell them that to sell something, first of all you have to be humble, honest, want the good of the other person above all things. But instead of telling them that, he selects all his e-mails and sends them straight to trash without reading them.

A meeting. And then another meeting. And in between he thinks of his friend, and of his mother, who he hasn’t called for too many days because he never has the time. But as well as the time, it’s the overloading of the neurons, the need to focus all his effort on productive things for twelve or fifteen hours a day.

In between he makes the reckless mistake of browsing around a couple of digital newspapers, contemplating the faces of the politicians of our country, the things they say, and he realises we are drifting without a set course, we are in the hands of beings who are consumed by filth, opportunist hustlers who bleed us into despair, both economically and spiritually. He turns off the computer and doesn’t break down in tears because deep down, he knows that life is a miracle, and that in spite of all that political misery, we won’t drown and we are going to manage to forge ahead.

In the afternoon: collect the children from school, pay them a maximum of attention because otherwise there really would be no meaning to life, hug his wife when he gets home, love her in silence, with his gaze, play with the baby and watch him take his very first steps, do homework with the older ones, prepare snacks, bathtime, pyjamas, school uniforms for the following day, light the fire in the hearth, make dinner, carry on listening to the children with all the love in the world whilst at the same time, he thinks that if the client who owes him money doesn’t pay up tomorrow either, he really will be in trouble.

With the children in bed now, and his wife putting the baby to sleep, Luis uses up the very last of his energy to answer e-mails, prepare tomorrow’s meetings, see how his investments on the stock exchange are doing. He also remembers that he has to take his car into the garage, call the technician for the refrigerator which has been leaking water for days now, buy the children new toothbrushes, and more face masks, call his mother and his friend, start walking ten thousand steps a day.

He goes outside and for yet another night the stars in the sky give everything meaning, their greatness helps him carry on believing in humanity and in the painful beauty that life is.

He puts his arm around his wife as they sit on the sofa watching a TV series, aware of how lucky he is to be able to love and be loved. And he thinks that you have to be very courageous to love completely and not stop halfway, even though it hurts at time, or perhaps precisely because of that.

When he lies down, after eleven, the contracture, which he hadn’t paid any further attention to, reminds him that his night terrors are still there, crouching in his subconscious, waiting for him to let down his guard to leap on him again.

But Luis stopped being afraid some time ago. The crisis and the virus and all of the things he has lived through this year have helped him get to know himself better, to take another step forward and feel reasonably satisfied with himself.

With some physical pain, but also with the feeling that for one more day, he has done everything that was in his power, Luis gradually falls asleep, as he thinks that this is life, the good fortune of carrying on learning and loving every day, leaving fate to take care of all the rest.

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