The Crest of Ilion
Now, even after so much time has passed, I ask myself in the same incredulous manner, how is it possible someone like me could have allowed a stranger in his house on a stormy night?
I hesitated in opening it. For a long time, I debated with myself whether to close the book I was reading or to keep sitting in my armchair, in front of the illuminated fireplace, with the attitude that nothing ever happened. At the end, her insistence defeated me. I opened the door. I analyzed her. And I let her enter.
The weather, certainly, had worsened quickly and heavily in those days. Suddenly, without warning, the autumn moved along the coast and made itself at home. There was its long and bare morning light, its mild winds, the skies overcast with sunset. And later, the winter arrived. And the rains of winter. One becomes accustomed to everything, certainly, but the rains of winter- gray, never-ending, tedious- they are a tough pill to swallow. They are the type of things that inevitably bring one to huddle inside the house, in front of the fireplace, full of boredom. Perhaps because of this, I opened the door to my home: the tedium.
However, I would be fooling myself, and I would be trying to fool you all, without a doubt, if I only mention the long, weary storm that came with her. I remember, above all, her eyes. Stars suspended inside a devastating catlike expression. Her eyes were enormous, so vast that, as if she were made of mirrors, attained an effect of expanding the surroundings. I quickly had the opportunity to confirm this first intuition: the rooms grew beneath her gaze; the hallways elongated; the closets became infinite horizons; the narrow foyer, paradoxically reluctant to welcome, opened itself up completely. And that was, I want to believe, the second reason why I let her enter my home: the expansive power of her gaze.
If I were to stop now, I would still be lying. In reality, there, beneath the winter storm, surrounded by the empty space that her eyes created for me in that moment, what really captured my attention was the right bone of her pelvis that, due to the way she leaned on the doorframe and the weight of the water on her faded floral skirt, let me see beneath her ragged t-shirt, tight-fitted around the elastic of her waistband. I took a long time to remember the specific name of that part of the bone, but, without a doubt, the hunt began in this moment. I desired her. Men, I’m sure, will understand me without needing any more commentary. To the women, I say that this happened frequently and uncontrollably. I also warn the women that this cannot be forced: you all are as defenseless as we are when the hunt happens. I would dare to argue that, as a matter of fact, the hunt can only succeed if we are both defenseless, but in this case, like in many other matters, I could be wrong. As I was saying, I desired her. Immediately. There was the familiar pang in the pit of my stomach in case I dared to doubt my desire. There was, in addition and above all, imagination. I imagined her eating blackberries- her full lips and fingertips stained magenta. I imagined her ascending the staircase slowly, barely turning her head to see her own elongated shadow. I imagined her watching the sea through the picture windows, as engrossed and solitary as a mast. I imagined her leaning on her elbows on the right side of my bed. I imagined her words, her silences, her way of frowning, her smiles, her loud laughter. When I returned to realize that I found her in front of me, whole and wet, shivering from the cold, I already knew everything about her. And I suppose that this was the third reason why I opened the door to my home and, without taking my hand off the doorknob the whole time, invited her in.
“I am Amparo Dávila,” she mentioned with a fixed gaze, just as I had imagined minutes before, through the picture windows. She approached them without adding anything more. She lay her right hand between her forehead and the windowpane, and when she finally could…