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A December story

São Paulo, 2016.

Something tells me he has felt more sadness than I can imagine when his eyes get lost in the middle of a print on the green rug in the living room. I divert my steps, walking towards the fridge. I get a glass of water as if I am reading nothing in the transparency of his gaze. I want to be respectful of the words he doesn’t say because I assume silence is his way of drawing a line. Like there is a fine line between whatever I perceive and what he prefers to keep in his chest, without speaking.

It is strange, however, because the combined paragraphs of our conversation bring me reasons that also brighten my daily life. His sudden smile lights up a memory and reminds me of the green hills of my childhood when gloomy thoughts were just seagulls flying far away in the sky of my innocence.

He wants to say something yet remains quiet. He nods, and I know this is his way of going to that place of memory where he covers up things that hurt him. That part of his skin where life has not yet rubbed in a healing balm, where the present that worries him remains. He tells me he doesn’t like the end of the year while cursing all those little Christmas lights that waste electricity for nothing and burn the trees (!). I feel the same affliction with the arrival of December when people will again eat panettone with desires that have nothing to do with peace or the Saviour. But I also remain silent while thinking about what I will do in the next few months. I assume I’ll probably bury my head in music, books and prayers, finding yet again a million reasons to start a new January.

Yes, it’s rare. His presence, even sombre, calms me down due to the sincerity of our companionship. I’m sure that neither he nor I lie about being our silent selves, and I know that there are no filters in the seriousness of the face, neither in the shooting smile that takes long to arrive and disappears like a star. I want to ask him, “Are you okay?” But I’m aware that this question is the one that most people ask daily out of politeness. I understand he may invariably reply: “I’m fine, and you?” The taste of the kiss and the message I won’t give remain on my lips, and I keep the feeling of someone who was looking at the food offered on the table but wouldn’t dare to walk towards and grab it.

We go out for a ride. I feel my arms hurting, like every day when I yearn for the hug of those far away, and now it happens with him, who is by my side, whom I won’t hug. I contemplate the city while my searches cross the car’s window. I travel inside myself and leave towards other places, but I say other things that have nothing to do with the secrets or aches I hide under my dress. I’m determined not to stay in that corner where melancholy can become seductive, and I try to keep in a good mood to enjoy our presence. However, again, I search for my laughter, and when I can’t find it, I’m confronted by his silence and mine. And why do I think all these things I don’t tell him? I tell myself.

You’re scared, I reply. Yes, I’m scared. I reflect on the failure in communication due to the excess of means preventing people from talking to each other. Conversely, I think about the many commitments that call me to other digital spaces. I say goodbye to that moment with the same economy of words I apply in a virtual space to close a window. But how come? If I go to my apartment on the fourteenth floor and get down with my eyes on the grey asphalt. Which is grey like the afternoon was, grey like the fabric of a suit, and grey like the stone where I petrify everything I don’t want to say or feel.

Some people find it difficult to talk about themselves with a new friend and run from falling in love like it’s the apocalypse—me, for example.

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