Postal / Dayana Fraile


I can’t remember how many times this scene has repeated itself. Ana is wrapped from head to toe in her plaid blanket. Aside from her head, I can only see a bit of her hand between the fabric, an incandescent sparkle where the cigarette should be, the quivering ash, always about to fall anywhere except the ashtray. Beth Gibbons shredding her vocal chords in the background, “Nobody Loves Me” playing live, “Over” or “Glory Box” in Sao Paulo.

I’m always sitting on the mattress spread out on the floor, beside the bed, sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left. Sometimes the room is smaller or bigger, the window changes position, with more or less things, because the things are essential there, the mountains of CDs, the quartz stones, the teddy bears, the music magazines, the books, always the dwarf bamboo resting in a glass container full of something that looks like colored gelatin, the hair clips, the blister packs of pills scattered on the floor and Ana raising or lowering the music’s volume, arbitrarily, as though she were disconcerted by having a free hand and nothing to do with it.

I light up and extinguish a cigarette, the same cigarette, several times, I think I want to smoke and I light it, I think I don’t want to smoke anymore so I put it out – “You know? I’m tired of being alone” –, Ana always seems to want to add something else, but never does, she entertains herself with the CDs, she wants to make a long enough pause so that the words she has just pronounced, a few seconds ago, will distance themselves enough from those that will soon come. She tries to make some time. She puts on a CD and takes it off, she puts another one on and takes it off, and now she plays a song by Fiona Apple, almost always the one where she says, “Sometimes I feel like a criminal.”

I don’t say anything to Ana when she tells me this, I just listen to her and sometimes I feel like a criminal, laralarala... I light another cigarette, skim through another magazine, and finally end up inventing some story about a sudden and unexpected encounter with some ex-boyfriend, because I know those types of stories fascinate her, she looks at me from the bed, and asks for details about each one of the guy’s actions, about mine, “Seriously?... And what did you do?”, she asks if I pause during the story, as she checks the time on the clock at the bedside table, stretches out her arm and pops another Lexotanil in her mouth.

It’s always the same scene, the same songs, the same eiderdown, the same bamboo buried in gelatin. I think certain people stay within us like a fragmented image, a postcard photograph, a scratched record where the same needle rolls indefinitely. For me, Ana is one of those people. That’s why when I go out for walks in the afternoon without any fixed destination in mind, I sometimes end up at Ana’s door, at any one of her addresses that are subject to constant change. When I go into her room, I feel like a shipwrecked person who has swum across the Caribbean and finally reaches shore.

Even though six months may have gone by since my last visit, when I go into her room I feel I’ve never left, everything is identical to how I remember it, including the sleepy expression on Ana’s face, framed in the empty space of the door as it opens.

It feels good to visit her, it feels good to sit on the mattress she pulls out from under the bed when I arrive, to cook up something quickly, serve a plate of salted chicken strips with slices of pear on the side, creating a strange salad only Ana and myself understand. I invent stories for her, I bring her news from a reality I don’t inhabit either. I think our friendship, at its core, is a lot like that.

{ Dayana Fraile, El Apéndice de Pablo #6, May 2009 }

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