Friday, August 6, 2021

the last book I ever read (The Dangers of Smoking in Bed: Stories, excerpt four)

from The Dangers of Smoking in Bed: Stories by Mariana Enriquez (Translated by Megan McDowell):

When Julieta closed the door to the building, she grabbed her friend by the arm, hard. “I don’t want to go to La Concha and see drag queens,” she said. The shows weren’t what they used to be, anyway, Julieta told her; now they were full of bachelorette parties, and half the time the performers just went around greeting the brides-to-be. There were even little kids who went now. It was going downhill, it was sad. The queens used to be so splendid and ferocious, it was depressing to see them dressed as Marisa Paredes, putting on a show for all audiences. No and no. Julieta wanted to go to a bar. She wanted to talk. She wanted to tell Sofía things she never would have dared say in her emails or letters, or in their rare phone conversations. “I had a rough time of it last year,” she said, and she started to cry in her particular way, suddenly and with big, heavy tears that she’d held back for a long time. Sofía pulled her into the first open bar she saw, and handed Julieta her tissues. The same smell floated around them, stagnant and constant, but Julieta didn’t seem to notice. It wasn’t the right moment to ask her friend if she smelled it too.

They ordered coffee. Neither of them wanted to drink alcohol. Julieta calmed down a bit, and then was able to talk. She’d gone crazy, she said. Maybe from thinking so much about all the crazy people in Barcelona.

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