Beguiled

I knew you were the one. I knew it the very first moment I saw you. In you, I recognized all my dreams. I recognized them in your seductive smile, your long hazel curls, your pale snub nose. In your body I could see all the wildness I was longing for. I didn’t speak much Spanish then, just enough to say, “Hi, pleased to meet you!” and you were busy with someone else so we didn’t talk much. But it didn’t matter then, because I was sure. Sure about you.

You became all I had dreamed of—and not dreamed ofwhen we lived together. When we slept together in your bed holding hands. When we talked about our most intimate thoughts, our secret fears. You corrected my Spanish with fierceness so that I learned to speak it fluently. But it didn’t help me when I was standing next to you, looking at you, immobilized in your smile, lost in your body, unable to speak. The thoughts would seep out through my eyes –silently but I’m sure you heard them. I’m sure you did.

You say you don’t like Europeans so I don’t want to be one of them. Your country has become my country. Everything has changed—because of you. But although I try very hard, sometimes you’ll detect a trait in me that you don’t like and then you say: “That’s European!” or: “That’s French!” although you know I’m not really French. And I wonder: How can you know? If you have never left this country. I wonder if you think I’m rich because I always pay the bills. You would be surprised if you came with me to Europe. Maybe you would like me better if you realized I’m not rich—I’m just like you.

Your name is common: María. You’re not a saint, that much I know. But it becomes the most special name on you. Just like the things you say: The most trivial incidents spring to life when you lend them your words and your voice, and you make it seem like no one else has ever talked about them before. My name is an uncommon one, but you make it simple. You say: “Le” and I love when you do that—because no one else does.

We have stolen in supermarkets, we stayed out all night long, we have discovered other people—we have discovered us! We tell each other everything.

We made love one night in my bed when you came home late. I sucked at your thin lips, you said I was an excellent kisser. My heart was beating fast when your hands caressed me, when I touched your breasts, when I felt your long curls gliding over my naked body. I tasted the honey between your legs. I didn’t like it (but that’s okay).

I have convinced you that we should ride bikes. At first you said: It’s crazy! No one rides bikes here!” You said it was too dangerous. But now you like it.

I have to be very careful not to destroy your pleasure. So I ride in front of you and look back every second to make sure you are still okay. When you complain about your bike, I get off and switch mine with yours immediately.

(Only the reader will know this: When I’m alone, I race down the streets, I pedal as fast as I can, I take my hands off the handlebars and feel the wind running through my hair. I ignore the red lights and pass in between cars, feeling the adrenalin streaming through my blood, getting all sweaty—and I don’t care. But when I’m with her I ride slowly and very carefully, because I know she gets angry otherwise.)

It fills me with tenderness to be able to guide you. You, who always guide me.

I’ve cut my hair very short; it looks like I’m your boyfriend. Your boyfriend is not jealous. But mine is. He says: “Usually you have to deal with ex-boyfriends and other guys. But in your case I have to be able to stand up to your girlfriend!” He uses the Spanish word “novia” for girlfriend in a relationship and we laughbut I know he is right. I know the world around us doesn’t really matter. The only thing that matters is you and me. We are the two halves stuck together. Sometimes I am you and you are me. We are the same person. I feel like I came all the way here just to find you. And I did. I knew you were the one.

So why is my brain freezing as you are shouting at me? As you tell me not to use those words. Didn’t I always use them? Why do you say I’m European after all? You say I don’t listen. Why do you write me letters full of hatred? Letters where I can hear your wrath in every word? I, who love to hear you laugh.

Why do you suddenly speak of your friends? Are they not our friends? Why do they suddenly matter? When no one else mattered before. Why do you say you don’t trust me? When all I want is to be with you. Why am I crying because you say you are going to leave your boyfriend? He is the last connection between us. Without him I’m going to lose you. You say there is someone else, another guy. But I don’t know him.

That’s it! I’m going to make friends with your new lover’s brother! I know he likes me. I think he is difficult, yet I will try. I will have to make sacrifices.

I want to say something funny so I can hear the wicked sound of your laughter again. It used to make me proud when I could make you laugh. But it didn’t work just now and you are shouting at me. I’m paralyzed, what did I just say that made you so angry? I don’t know, so I run after you but that makes you even angrier and you shout. You shout.

Our words used to connect us. Now they drive us apart. It felt so warm when we talked. I want to feel that warmth again. I beg you to become the person once more that I love.

But you won’t.

“It takes a long time before you really get to know someone,” my neighbor keeps saying when she talks about her husband. He left her. One day you wake up and you don’t recognize the person lying next to you.”

I want to believe her. But it hurts.

Viviana Seguí

About Viviana Seguí

Born in Germany, Viviana studied cultural anthropology in Berlin and São Paulo, worked as a journalist in Macau, and now lives in New York. Litro Magazine is the first one to publish her short stories, and for that she is extremely grateful.

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