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Fraudulent Fertilisation

Episode 14

Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli
Smaller text sizeDefault text sizeBigger text size Add to my bookshelf epub mobi Permalink Ebook MapMar del Plata, Bosque Peralta Ramos
Saturday 29 April, 1989

At eight o’clock in the evening, Alicia and Roberto met in the Loretta Tea Rooms, always busy, overflowing with young people. They found a space in the inner courtyard. Innocent and playful, dozens of teenagers noisily celebrated their goings-on, playing affectionate jokes on each other. Roberto was just another one of them. At fifty years old, he felt that life had awarded him a prize, allowing him to live a youthful romance again; he was euphoric, full of enthusiasm. Alicia was a magnificent landscape before his eyes.

“You’re so beautiful that looking at you is a pleasure, hasn’t anyone ever told you that? I won’t be able to believe you if you say no...”

She felt watched, a little uncomfortable, but flattered. She was dressed very simply, in blue jeans and a sky blue denim shirt. Around her neck she wore a pink scarf that matched her lips. The simplicity of her attire made her beauty and natural charm stand out. Burán felt very lucky, proud to exhibit such a delicious woman in public.

“Do you feel all right, Alicia?” he said affectionately.

“Why do you ask; do you have doubts?”

“In a way, yes. You know that when you’re fifty, like this, full of grey hair, wrinkles and funny little ways, you also learn to be more sincere. It’s easier to communicate worries, fears and subterranean thoughts. It’s as if it’s easier to undress yourself. I see you there, so beautiful, so fresh, I like the smoothness of your skin, the warmth of your eyes. I admit I feel like a schoolboy. Don’t think I’m fooling myself: I haven’t forgotten that I’m twice your age, I know that this is just a wonderful dream and I’ll soon wake up. But I want to live it, although I know that I’ll have a headache later on, do you understand?”

“Yes, Roberto, but you’re blowing it up out of all proportion. Just as you feel that way, I feel something similar, but in the other direction.”

“I don’t understand...”

“Yes,” said Alicia, “you don’t realise, I feel diminished before you, sort of insignificant. I see you so sure, so capable... You’re intelligent, I like to see how you analyse everything. What’s more, I think you’re a good person, you seem to be a very good person. I’m young, yes, but that’s not a virtue, it’s just my present state which will soon evaporate. I don’t value myself for that or for being attractive; it’s a coincidence, I can’t take the credit. There are lots of beautiful women who become useless wrinkled idiots when they’re older. Understand me, please don’t worry about the age difference. I swear I don’t feel it. It’s incredible, but there you are. I would have thought differently two days ago, I would have said that I didn’t go out with men much older than myself, but now, that’s the way it is. I want to know you, listen to you, learn a lot from you. You treat me with respect, affectionately, I feel protected. Don’t be offended, I see you as a mixture of father, friend and boyfriend. It’s not what I’m used to feeling when I’m with a man. To tell the truth, the relationships I’ve had with boys of my age haven’t been successful. I don’t know why, there were always conflicts, I really can’t remember a single even-tempered one. The continual arguments I used to have with my boyfriends were the result of immaturity, theirs and mine. The predominant factors were passion, selfishness, over and above the primarily emotional. Now, when I have a conversation with you, it seems impossible to have that kind of problem. Perhaps I’m fooling myself, I don’t know.”

“Perhaps, Alicia, I can understand your point of view. It doesn’t bother me that in a certain way you see me as a father. It couldn’t be any other way. Whenever we get close to someone it’s because some characteristic of their personality or physique seduces us. In short, nothing is a coincidence.”

This last word was like a hammer blow for her: she suddenly remembered the loathsome task she had to carry out, that the encounter with Roberto had been premeditated. She couldn’t help blushing.

“Look, girl, do you know what I think? At this point in my life I’m going to stop being a mere spectator, if I can. I’m ready to receive the blows that the future might deal me. I’m not going to stop submerging myself in life through fear, I’m going to make the most of opportunities, to search for a fuller existence. I don’t want to go on regretting not doing things. That’s why I’ve no intention of denying myself the beautiful sensations I feel when I’m with you, when I kiss you. The moments we shared yesterday justify everything. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Roberto, I think the same thing as well.”

“I’m glad,” he said, “but take care not to think I’m an innocent man inclined to fall in love easily, half gaga, diminished by age. It’s not like that; but I’m permissive and I understand that you’ve got every right to live your life freely. You’re like a bird kept in sweet captivity that sooner or later will feel the need to fly. Do you understand?”

“No,” she said, although she thought she understood.

“It’s very simple, dear. Listen to me, let’s think things through coldly. What can I give you? Security, a little knowledge, transmit a bit of experience to you, what else?”

“Don’t be silly, Roberto, you can give me affection, spirituality, lots of other things, I suppose...”

Alicia had thought of sex, but she didn’t dare say it out loud.

“Do you want me to confess something to you, dear? You’re probably right: from now on, I’m going to keep my mouth shut. I won’t come out with any more propaganda against myself, it’s ridiculous. I’m going to try and win your heart, what do you think? Although they say I’m a libidinous old man...”

“I think it’s fine, and you’re not old.”

“Look, Alicia, for now, I’m going to take things as they come. I’m going to turn into a physiocrat: ‘laissez faire, laissez passer, le monde va de lui même’. I’m going to stick to enjoying the moments we share, I just wanted to say this to you, but I don’t want you to feel tied to me, nor to think you might hurt me. I’m ready for what I consider normal: for you to go away, for you to look for a relationship more appropriate for your age and your fresh emotions. Believe me, I honestly understand it. While you want to be with me, you’ll make me happy; when that changes I’ll be full of melancholy, but always grateful for the beautiful moments you’ve given me. Is that clear?”

“Yes,” said Alicia, as a shiny tear slid down her left cheek.

“I’m a wretch for what I’m going to do to this man,” she said to herself “for repaying his generosity with such foul currency.”

Translation: Peter Miller (© 2002)
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Copyright ©Ricardo Ludovico Gulminelli, 1990
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Date of publicationJune 2002
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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