The Celeste Cube
When we entered the lift, a cold feeling ran across my back. Her brown eyes looked down at me through the old glasses. Dishevelled, she was using together many clothes of incompatible colours. And with sandals? Yes, I disliked seeing her spidery feet with long nails. What floor are you going to? I asked smiling. She looked at me with displeasure and responded annoyed that we were going to the seventh, like if I could have known. The last floor, I was going to, leads to the terrasse.
The day before I talked with Mabel, the janitor, and with the newspaperwoman of the corner kiosk. They are both kind and friendly. Both short, I looked at them from my meter and sixty centimetres, and yet, they seemed pygmy to me. Their testimony was another coincidence. They saw the girl running on the roof, just after the desperate screams. The newspaperwoman immediately thought of suicide because she talked with her just a few days before, and knew she was sad for many reasons, one of those being heartbreak. Mabel looked at me silently; her little eyes inlaid with a wrinkled skin wet, due to a badly cured cold, were telling me that there was something else. –It´s weird if Susana, who lives on the seventh floor, didn´t hear anything. She stays upstairs most of the time since she has been allowed by the owner to live there. Because she´s not very well, she comes down very rarely (she pointed at her head with the index finger and twisted it few times) – she told me with a nasal voice, as she was toothless.
I checked the photos on my tablet. The woman had nothing on her but a clothespin. Her body fell and hit the garbage containers first, which probably caused the strange pose that her body got. She seemed to be sleeping on the street. I swiped some photos and stopped on the one that showed the sign of the corner of the Casio Marinoni and Casimiro Franaro. I thought the time and placement of the scene made it a horrible sight. At 3 in the afternoon, even though it´s the Summer, many people are walking around here, mainly due to the close-by hospitals.
I walked around the terrasse and tried to squirt my eyes to see the place where she jumped from. From the column, I held as much as I could. I trembled; my heart went crazy. When I felt like I was drowning and felt a knot in my throat, I decided to get out of there. I got mad because some of my colleagues assumed that I felt vertigo due to my gender. I was walking down the stairs and I saw her again. She was walking up with difficulty and was carrying a bucket. She looked at me with an expression of twisted lips. She insisted that I speak with Susana. If the lady´s ex-husband, the one that had a restriction order, came back, for sure Susana would have seen him or, at least heard him.
A week later, after the investigations of the relatives, friends, and, of course, her ex, I came back to the building, this time with two colleges. From bellow, with some difficulty, because the sun burned my eyes, I looked at the terrasse of the light-blue-cube. I thought that I should continue investigating the buildings next to it. Someone living at the same height could have been a witness. We went up again.
My colleagues stayed at the doors of the terrasse. I moved, avoiding some clothes that were hanged there. There were many clothespins on each one of them. So many woollen clothes in January? I asked myself again and again, a cold spread down my back. I saw her there, staring madly at me for invading her personal space. She charged at me and I dodged her, making her fall down the building screaming.
Andrea Aquino (Florida, Uruguay 1976) is a Literature teacher graduated from Instituto de Profesores Artigas in 2002. She works in Secondary at the Zorrilla High School in Montevideo, and, in Teacher Training, at Instituto de Profesores Artigas (IPA). She participated as a speaker at national and international congresses in Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina. In February 2020 she graduated with a Master in Latin American Literature (Humanities, UDELAR). She won the second prize in the Primer Concurso literario “Palabras para Idea y Mario” organized by SINTEP Uruguay in tribute to the centenary of Idea Vilariño and Mario Benedetti.