We were walking side by side, hand in hand, with regular strides. She was dressed completely in black, her boots, her trousers, her pullover and her coat, curiously enough just the same as me. But maybe it was not by chance, but a mere treason from our subconscious. Silence reigned, each of us deeply absorbed in our thoughts, and the only existing communication between us was a slight press of the hand now and then. As for me, it was precisely when my mind failed to find the reasons, so it would exchange frustration for the desire of keeping her with me forever. Another important detail was the suitcase, her suitcase.
Now, being a few steps away from the station, reason seemed to dim. The last days had gone for me as if in a dream, unable to understand what was really going on, sometimes blinded after yet another bitter discussion, thinking up impossible solutions, feeling a part of me was being torn apart, and watching her get ready to leave. How many times have I gone mentally through everything, again and again, trying to find a non existent flaw? Even thinking back now makes my soul hurt, that intense, special pain that both destroys and drowns you deep inside. It’s not the pain you feel for a lost loved one, it is … Well, I cannot explain it with words, but even if I could, what would be the difference? None. And you cannot blame it on someone else. That’s a bad thing about life, it is neither fair nor it pretends to be so, and I’m not saying this just out of disenchantment, no, it’s just a lesson I learned, just that.
We stopped a few meters before reaching the main door, a door I knew I would not walk through. She turned around to face me, and something in my face and in my blue eyes showed her this pain I could not describe before, as she caressed my face with her left hand at the same time as she tried to encourage me with her eyes. Being touched by her proved to be even more painful because she was also suffering and, even so, you could not tell from her face, at least not any more than from her reddened eyes. The suitcase hit the floor with a dull noise as I hugged her, burying my face into her hair. My whole body was trembling, like that distant night in a deserted square back in Madrid, where everything began such a long time ago. As it happened then, I could feel tears coming down my face, and that imperious need to abandon myself to the sobs.
I stepped aside, still holding her in my arms and scarcely murmured: “Good bye, ______, please, take care” She drew her lips to mine, one more time, the last one, and replied to me with a shattered voice: ”Yes, ______, you take care, too. Good bye”
And that was the end. She took her suitcase and headed for the entrance while I wiped another tear. I stood there for a moment, watching her leave, seeing how she disappeared from my life through the door. Probably there were lots of people around, I don’t know, I can’t remember. But I can distinctly remember that she turned around for one endless second. Maybe she wanted to know if I was still there, maybe she wanted to keep one last image. That one closing a story.
I wrote the original Spanish version of the short story on January 17th 1999, a rainy Sunday in Armilla Air Base. I had stayed in the Base so that I could do some reviewing for an upcoming exam on Weapons (one of the subjects during the three months there). But then, inspiration arrives when it arrives...
It´s been now a long time but I haven´t corrected anything. I would probably translate some bits differently. Not that it matters...