“You see? It’s the sea! “The lady says, walking to the window. In front the coast extends from end to end. Linda stands still in the door frame. The lady, with her hands on her waist, looks at her reprovingly.
“I do not like the sea,” she feels compelled to say, with her eyes on the parquet floor.
“You do not like the sea!” Exclaims the lady, almost shouting. She turns her eyes to the window and adds softly: “I love the sea.” It is evident that her expectation of sharing with Linda a long-awaited dream has vanished.
“And if it comes out …” she says fearfully, her eyes still fixed on the ground. The lady understands. Open the screen and now the movement of the waves in the distance is accompanied by a rumor, stones, algae, salt.
“It is true that this can happen, but not because. If there was a strong earthquake, like the one in Nazca, there would be danger, but we are up, much higher than the sea. Anyway, the sirens would sound and you would have to evacuate.”
“For where?”, Linda hastens to reply with interest, but without abandoning her fear, nor her place under the threshold.
“Well, as far as possible, in the opposite direction to the sea, towards the market. Now I show you where, “she says with a motherly gesture. Linda dares to walk closer to the balcony and both look towards the horizon where the sea never ends.
The lady then wonders why she likes the sea so much and goes back to her childhood, on Sundays in Pucusana, kilometer 60 of the Panamericana Sur, when in spite of all efforts, they always arrived at noon, at the hottest hour and more crowded, they went down the street that overlooked the boardwalk, they gazed at the iridescent, silvery, incessant sea, and looked for a corner between the battalion of umbrellas. They did not leave until the last ray of light disappeared behind the golden wake, on the surface of the water. You had to run away to find less traffic on the road, but it was useless. Think of the force of the sea, its power, when it is close, the calm of the swing, when it is far away. On those Sundays at night when returning from the beach, the rumor of the conches, the movement of the waves, accompanied her dreams.
Linda has no recollection of the sea; there in the heights, the water falls from above, it is not necessary that so much water be stored together, salted, unusable for cooking or for watering. The cochas do not make noise, it is the wind that hoots when it crosses them. They move quedito. It is good water, it is water that seeps from the veins of the earth, Mama Pacha. He wonders if in the sea too they mirror the clouds and the blue of the sky. Although there on the coast there is neither the color nor the texture of the heights. That humid breeze gets into the body, it molds it. The sea for her has no use, no purpose or advantage, no feeling, only if she were a fisherwoman, but she is not. The sea, the sea does not say anything to her.
The next day, the lady leaves her in the apartment very early to do a thorough cleaning before the move. “Do not worry Linda, nothing will happen. I’ll call you in a little while if you need anything.” She leaves with the bag of yellow butterflies that Linda thinks are too striking, but that in the end she likes it so much because she never attracts attention, only knows how to go unnoticed. Leave the balcony for the end, shake, sweep, mop, wax in an interior silence that is disturbed every so often by the sound of the sea. Out of the corner of her eye she looks out the window and there he is, there he continues, moving. Listen that he calls her “Lin-da”. When the waves drag the stones, the call lengthens, you hear “Linnn-daaa”, others it’s just an echo, which repeats “Lin-da-lin-da-lin-da. Linn-daaa.”
The loaders of the moving company invest the day in bringing the furniture of the old house. In the afternoon, the lady asks Linda to stay, that she will pay extra, but she unflinchingly says that she can not; hurry the words with impatience and anger. The lady lets her go. She knows her enough not to insist when Linda gets an idea in her head. It would have seemed like shyness and pride are incompatible if she did not know that in Linda they complement each other. She is efficient and thorough but she is not kind, nor have they achieved the empathy that takes them beyond an employment relationship. At night, friends come to give her a hand, make a small gathering, uncork a couple of bottles of wine and put some pizzas in the oven.
The next day, Linda arrives a little late because she has trouble getting used to the new route of bus she should take. She made a mistake and ends several blocks away. Walks because she does not want to pay more. She thinks to do that always, but she has asked the lady twice of the bus fare arguing that she must take two cars. The lady does not argue with her, she still feels the effect of alcohol and bad night. She decides to take the morning and stay home to finish to order. She gives Linda several tasks that she listens to with a pout on her lips and eyebrow lifted but then she does to the letter.
When Linda retires, the lady is sitting on the balcony with a book; from time to time she fixed her view on the horizon. How can you read with that incessant call, with that noise!, thinks Linda. That of wanting so much the sea seems an incomprehensible rarity. The lady lets herself be enveloped by the rumor, she likes that rhythmic sound, the stones that are dragged and returned, dragged and returned, that monotony calms her, lulls her. Before it caused her melancholia.
Linda walks a few steps on the sidewalk, realizes that everything is silent. Turn to the sea, she sees a large empty slit, without water, that exposes rocks, an irregular terrain and waste, an indescribable amount of garbage. Go back slowly, slowly, because she sees far from it a little confused that as it gets closer it recognizes as a gigantic wave. Starts to walk back, faster, but still looking, as if hypnotized by that terrifying vision. She throws the purse, runs and screams, not knowing if it’s going in the right direction. She is sure that the wave is about to reach her, she runs and falls. She stared without silencing the terror of her voice and then she wakes up sweaty in her small darkened room.
“Another pair of gloves? Have not I bought you some last week? “, she rebukes without understanding how Linda destroys a couple of gloves every week.
“You brought me the wrong ones,” she says in her haughty voice.
“Then show me which ones you want,” the lady asks patiently. Linda takes out her pocket a pair of very thin, surgical gloves.
The lady looks at her sadly. These are the gloves that the nurse used to bathe her father months ago, when he was still alive. That’s why she had delayed the move, she did not want to leave him alone and in the new apartment there was no room for both of them and the nurse. The memory of the death of her father still fresh prevents her from replicating. But start to notice that Linda uses gloves for everything, even for chopping vegetables. When she dares to ask her why, she responds angrily to avoid getting wet. “But if the humidity is in all the city! This is a city that breathes water. ” Linda looks back to the table where she already has a row of carrots in symmetrical squares.
After the gloves, Linda needed tights that covered both her legs and arms, arguing that the humidity made her bones ache. After a month, it seemed more like a neurotic nurse than a domestic employee. Then the shouting began. The first occasion, she thought she heard voices and peeked into the kitchen, but Linda was alone washing the dishes. The lady deduced that the shock of the plates between them had given her the impression of some voice. On the next occasion, she went home and heard Linda shouting, “Shut up, can not you? stop? “and then a blow that alarmed her. When she found her in the room sweeping and moving the bed, she looked for the speaker of those words, but there was no one. “With whom were you talking? ” Linda stood still and silent, broom in hand. “With the sea, then, ” she answered right away. “The sea? Do you send him, the sea, to shut up? “Asked the lady, stopping laughter. “Yes. Is that condemned does not stop calling me, does not stop screaming Linda. Linda.” After that, she had already picked up the broom with fury so as not to leave space for a reply. To Madam, it was clear to her that it was not a call she liked.
“How do you feel, Linda?”, she dares to ask after observing her strange behavior. Linda looks at her with suspicion. “Sit and tell me,” she says fondly.
Linda begins a tirade in which a series of incongruities are mixed that the sea does to her every day: the flame, the pursuit, the wet, the mildew; nightmares in which a gigantic wave devours her; and, the anguish over a fishy odor that she believes do not abandon her. The lady does not argue with her. She beginning to size the severity of the problem.
Linda goes much more calmly to have told the lady her martyrdom. After two hours and a half in the bus, comes to bathe and rest. Turn on the television to simulate a company that does not have, while weaving sweaters of the same color. When available to sleep, she feels a strange noise, as if someone were scratching something. No, it is corrected, it is as if someone will drag stones. But she lives in the sand and there are no stones to drag. It will be the wind, she says to herself, if there will be no wind in that place! It feels humid and then the noise makes more clear. It is the sea that has persecuted her there.
The lady is presented with a work trip and must leave the house in charge of Linda. Even though worries the harmful effect that the sea has had for her, there is no other option. Linda does not like to be alone with the sea. She comes up with terrible fantasies, like if the sea had already taken on the form and body of an evil being, capable not only of shouting and to pursue her, but to trap her, devour her, assault her, perhaps possess her. So the first day alone, she arrives cautiously with a wooden roller in her bag, which teaches the waves through the glass of the screen. At each step she takes the roller with her, just in case. After having washed and watered the plants without any strange noise, or called obsessive, feels that she has mastered him and now it is him, the sea, who fears her.
In the following days, just lift the bag when entering, as if she were carrying the roller inside, but she leaves it at home, because she has to load it for two hours one and two times, in a crowded bus of people, it’s not a thing at all. And it is then that alarmed her to find between her legs waste of sand, in her pants a salty humidity and in her skin greenish or brown spots that darken her whiteness. That liquid and ephemeral quality of the sea make her attempts to defense, the roller, the gloves, the tights, her screams, useless. Linda joins in a terrible feeling of defeat, as if her head were submerged in an unfathomable hat.
When the lady returns from her trip she finds the neglected house and the dried plants. Linda is missing. The building’s doorman informs her that she kept going to clean the first week, but then she did not go anymore. He confesses that he liked her and that he had gone to look for her sometime to her pensione. But with good intentions, he says. This is how he found out that Linda empty her room and left, nobody knows where.
The lady does know.