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A Chance

by Carolina Peleretegui
Translated by Norma Kaminsky

Marcos’s home was three blocks from the park. That was the reference point, so I, disoriented as I am, checked several times the little map that Billy and I had looked over the night before, just in case. We both know I get lost in unfamiliar neighborhoods, and I didn’t want to be late for this.

The park was full of kids; I watched them play, dreaming, as I often did, that one of them was mine.

When I rang the bell at the address Marcos had sent me on WhatsApp, I felt something in my belly. Something nice, strange, like being sick to my stomach, but pleasant. He opened the door straightaway, and said he was expecting me. He was truly beautiful, more handsome than in his profile pictures. We went up, and almost as if he had rehearsed it, he offered me a seat next to a large window overlooking the street.

“Tea or coffee?,” he asked. I wanted to say maté, but I’d been told he didn’t like maté.

“Tea, thanks,” I said.

While we chatted about trivial things like how crazy the weather was, and how people should take advantage of what little sun there was before it started raining again, about the turtle in his balcony that had been on the brink of death for the past ten years but never died, about the dollar exchange rate in the bank in Tokyo (where his sister lives, he said), I observed his physical traits: average height; long, thin nose; eyes of an indefinite color, maybe blue maybe green; and the cutest dimples by his mouth when he smiled as I told him that I still slept with the light on. Brown, wavy hair with a whirl on the back, above his nape. His movements were so gentle that when he was close, you felt like you were walking on a bed of feathers.

The tea was excellent. Marcos had bought some delicious pastries, like little cream puffs. I looked at them, thought of my figure and that perhaps I would soon look like them. I smiled to myself, happy that, with any luck, it might be so.

We finished the tea exactly when we ran out of things to say. We had to get started. That’s what I was there for. I had a chance and I shouldn’t throw it away.

Marcos left the cups in the kitchen sink; I stood up and offered to wash them, but he held me by the shoulders, gently turned me around, and said, “Come.”

We went to his bedroom. It was a neat, almost aseptic room. He sat on the edge of the bed and made me stand in front of him. He asked me to close my eyes and relax. I did that. I closed my eyes and thought of Billy. If we loved each other so much, why was I doing this? Was it necessary? I answered to myself yes, this was a test of love. I suddenly felt Marcos’s hands on my waist and tried not to think. He took off my pants in a way that Billy never had. I relaxed and tried to empty my head of all prejudices. I let go, guided by Marcos, who at one point kissed my nipples as if they were chocolate bonbons. After a few minutes he thrust me on top of him and we started kissing. I barely wanted to look at him. Better that way. With my eyes closed I felt I was kissing Billy, that I was making love with Billy.

It lasted as long as necessary, what it was supposed to last, though I would have liked to stretch it out a bit, just a little.

When we were done, he asked me if I wanted to take a shower, and I said yes. I needed it. I didn’t think any more. There was nothing else to think about. When I came out of the bathroom, Marcos was already dressed, sitting at the kitchen table.

“Your cell rang,” he said. I went to get it from my bag and saw that there were several missed calls from Billy.

I called back and Billy was reassured. I said I was on my way, to wait for me at a bench in the park.

I lit a cigarette and thanked Marcos with a hug and an envelope.

“The rest, if it takes, in two months,” I said.

“Good luck,” he said, and he opened the door after giving me a kiss on the cheek.

When I arrived in the park, Billy was there, sitting on a bench across from the yellow slide, the biggest one, the one all the kids waited in line to get on. She was mesmerized watching a boy in a Spider Man costume. I got closer and found her more beautiful than ever.

“There’s a nice café nearby,” she said. And arm in arm we walked away, not once looking back.