martes, 3 de noviembre de 2009

Un cuento de niña gringa

Ustedes perdonen el idioma, pero así va pasando. Va un cuento de niña gringa:

Claire caught a glimpse of her naked body reflected on the window across her unlit, purple bedroom. She approved of it, even if she was fifteen and wasn't missing an inch of the self deprecation that comes with such territory; but her breasts weren't too small and her thighs weren't too thick and she approved of the general effect. She stared at the lines she made on the glass, they seemed strangely long, like they belonged to someone else's legs, someone else's neck and waist. She lifted one of her arms and saw the reflection's lift too, it was definitely her. She heard Daniel laugh at her from the bed and was startled by it. She had almost forgotten he was there and felt suddenly embarrassed to be naked in front of him. For a second she wanted him to disappear and then she realized how silly that was: he was the one who had undressed her and now she felt it was somehow forward of him to be there.

They were precocious kids and she had happy-go-lucky, free-love exercising parents, so to Claire losing her virginity at fifteen, to a boy she loved felt almost conservative. The only thing that got to her was that seriousness in Daniel's attitude. He had a conscious -this is major- look in his eye that unnerved her. She took comfort in being the bold one, the one who cracked up when Daniel solemnly declared they were about to "make love". But now that she was standing alone in the middle of her room, exposed and cold, she began to think there might indeed be something momentous about what was happening. As Daniel sat on her bed, his clothes scattered all around him, laughing at her as if it was endearing; she felt glad to have realized it. She quickly moved to sit next to him on the bed and threw her arms around him; she had to cover her body with something, even if it was with his. Again he laughed at her and this time she laughed too. He came closer and kissed her with the strangest mix of eagerness and timidity. His hands were warm and a little sticky, but they moved with unexpected resolve.

-“I love you, Cee” - he said suddenly.

And although she knew he meant it, something in his tone and timing made it sound apologetic. Claire started to laugh but quickly shook her head and laid back staring up at the ceiling.

She felt him pull away for a second and out of the corner of her eye saw him look through his pant's pockets for something. He turned to her and spoke softly, grabbing her toes and leaning slightly on her leg.

- "Are you ok?"

She noded and smiled. She was a lot more than ok, she was a little fascinated.

She closed her eyes and ran her fingers down Daniel's back. Then she heard him begin to struggle with a plastic wrapper; it sounded exactly like when they were six and he struggled to open his bag of Oreos at lunch. Both rustles had the same eager ring to them. The thought of it made her laugh uncontrollably, she couldn't help herlself and couldn't stop, even though when she opened her eyes he looked for his and they looked anxious and miserable; but still she couldn't bring herself to help him. She felt she might die of embarrassment if she tried. She thought of her and Daniel fighting with a condom wrapper, sitting on the same bed she still sometimes dressed with Strawberry Shortcake sheets and felt ridiculous. They were kids in over their heads, no better equipped than two toddlers playing doctor. She was about to officially enter panic when the rustling stopped and Daniel burst out laughing. He leaned back to lay next to her and casually held it up.

-“You know what?” I’ll beat this thing, just apparently not right this second.

Claire laughed and leaned in to kiss him as he ran his hand across her waist. Amazing. She realized she would never be ill equipped to handle anything that felt like that. After a beat, something in the air shifted and it was just happening. It was less romantic and more natural than she could have ever expected. She had no idea what to make of it, in a strange way the only thing she felt unprepared for was its simplicity. If nothing else she was good with homework, so she had read all the books, asked all the questions and had all the talks, yet none of it had really prepared her for this feeling: no pain, no real pleasure, what she felt was the joy of pure novelty, absolute newness and surprise. She stared up at Daniel and brushed his hair away from his face, he smiled at her, almost politely, which she found hilarious. She scanned his face for what he was feeling and thought it looked more intense but also more familiar. He looked interesting, vulnerable and interesting. It was funny how at the same moment she felt he was the only thing that existed, but knew a lot of what she was feeling had nothing to do with him.

Her room had grown darker and warmer. Daniel was far from her, holding her hand across the bed. She was amazed to feel nothing was irremediably different. They got dressed in silence, stepping awkwardly on their clothes and each other. Claire took his hand and walked ahead of him.

They crossed the darkened hall toward the stairs, they passed her brother Tim's room and heard the muffled clicks and rings of frantic Nintendo action, then they passed her sister Abby's and got The killers blasting through the space under the door. Claire walked a few steps ahead of Daniel, but holding on tight to his hand like she needed to make sure he was still there. They walked downstairs.

The house was dark and silent, except for the flickering light of the TV her parents were watching in the living room. Their steps were invetably loud.

- "Is Dan leaving, Cee?" - her mother called out.

- "Yes, he is"

And she kept walking, holding Daniel's hand and leading him slowly towards the door. Behind her she could feel her mom smile and her dad cringe. Daniel pulled her back and peaked into the living room to give her parents the smallest, quietest, most guilty goodbye of their lives, but he got quite the normal response: enthusiastic farewells from her mom; silent head nod from her dad.

He kissed her under the door frame and walked away. Claire watched him go towards his car: he had the bouncy, determined footsteps of a little kid; his hair fell across his face in a light mess; his green stripped t-shirt had a stain shaped like the sole of his sneakers. Claire felt a rush of giddiness come over her - he was flat out adorable, that boy that was leaving her house.

-"Dan!" - she yelled happily across the street at him.

Daniel looked up, his serious demeanor changing into a bright smile with the sound of her voice. She had called him for the sake of it and had nothing real to say so she just shrugged and waved goodbye. He beamed at her, waving back.

Claire went inside and closed the door. Leaning on the frame, she thought of Daniel and felt her entire body react. This she hadn't felt before. At first being able to summon such a powerful physical reaction with a memory was quite unsettling, but it quickly grew on her. She stood there trying it again and again, every time a rush, every time a strange warmth ran from her head to her toes. She smiled blissfully: she had acquired the coolest power.

She looked around at her house, everything felt completely still, except from the flickering light in the living room. She thought of her parents sitting there together and moved instinctively towards them, like a seven year old who had woken up scared in the middle of the night. There was something strange and disturbing about the process of growing up. How had she gone, in just a few minutes, from craving Daniel like a self aware adult to craving her parents like a fragile little girl?

She walked into the living room slowly and sat on the couch between them. They were watching the ending of a black and white movie she didn't recognize. She leaned on her mom's shoulder and her mom put her arm around her, stroking her back lazily, in silence.

Her mom's hands were wrinkled and long, and there was always something minty in the air around her. Leaning against her body Claire thought it really was suiting that her mother was a woman. She thought of herself, her body, her skin - no. It wasn't the same. She would never be as good as her mom at being a girl. She thought nobody would. Everything in her, even her flaws, were exactly what they were meant to be. She suspected it had always been this way, maybe that's why her grandparents had named her Eve; perhaps even as a baby there was something about her that felt like she was the ultimate woman. Not the prettiest nor the kindest, certainly not the softest - but the most accurate; that's what it was: her mom was the most accurate woman in the world.

She felt her dad reach over and take her mom's hand. She stared as they interlocked fingers on top of her knees. She was certain that her parents loved each other and was suddenly aware of how strange that certainty was.

She looked at her dad's heavy hands, his enormous dark eyes. Everything about him was Daniel's polar opposite. She wondered if that was a good or a bad thing and didn't understand why the question made her blush violently. And there it was, she felt it now: something was irremediably different.

- "Daniel said he loved me today" - she stated, very matter- of-factly.

Her dad's eyes pierced her so hard that for a second she thought he might have preferred to hear about what else Daniel had done that day.

-"And what did you say, kid?"

There was something disarmingly sad in the question. Claire took his arm and wrapped it around her, close.

-"I didn't say anything. But I do too."

Claire could feel her mom grinning over her shoulder. She buried her face under her dad's arm and held on to his hand. They stayed there for a long while, curled up in a ball: the two parents who loved each other and their grown up kid who loved someone else.