Optic Nerve by María Gainza (Translated by Thomas Bunstead):
You should have guessed. Anytime anything went wrong your mother would hurry off to the embassy, the small mansion that, before it become the embassy, had been her grandmother’s home. She was five years old when the property was sold, and found it so traumatic that she was from then on incapable of letting anything go; normal houses have one soda, maybe two, but your mother had seven, most of them stacked up in the bedrooms you and your siblings slept in as children. In the closet of what used to be your bathroom there is a pile of Sotheby’s catalogues dating back to 1972, the shelves bowed under their weight. One day a triple mirror that had been leaning against some bookshelves came crashing down on top of her; she said afterward that she had been trying to find a book to lend the porter. Which book? Los que mandan (The Ruling Class), by José Luis de Imaz; it was a lifelong obsession of hers to disseminate the “correct” history of our country. She was stuck beneath the mirror for half an hour, until the maid came in and heard her shouting. She was unhurt. It has occurred to you that, toppling furniture allowing, your mother will one day create her own Hubert Robert landscape. Guided tours of her apartment will be provided, foreigners will queue up along Avenida Libertador, eyes fixed on the third floor of the building, where, behind those very tall double-glazed windows, not a speck of dust is allowed to settle on the ruins of the Argentinian nobility.
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