Miguel raised from his chair. He walked to the bar, and poured bourbon in a glass. Then, he turned toward us: “What about Miriam?” The room was silent, immersed in a soft, orange afternoon light. Miriam’s memory was present, rising from the ashes of time, coiling deep into our souls, invading our thoughts, rarefying the air in the room.
Miriam: that silky voice of hers contrasting with the fury of her paintings; that simple line of her short black dresses so different from the fierce colors covering her canvases; that strong smell of Columbian coffee which she used to drink every morning while watching the city coming back to life from the windows of her studio. How many times I wondered what she knew and what she didn’t, for she has never said too much. How many times I wondered what was behind her display of love for Jacques, and, his display of love for her? For I have always thought that it was something more, something hidden, something that for some strange reason I was not supposed to know.
Angelo spoke: “Did Miriam ever paint a spider?”
The book I was reading fell from my hands. I was baffled: “A spider?!”
Angelo smiled: “Yes, a spider.”
Miguel said nothing; his eyes half closed, his hands nursing the glass of bourbon.
Angelo continued: “A spider; garlands of roses wrapped around his legs.”
Miguel open his eyes, a hint of tremor in his voice: “Can we talk about something else?”
I must have gotten irritated: “About something else? Yes, but first could I know what is it that we are talking about right now?”
Angelo raised his eyebrows: “Miguel can explain. He can simplify things. He is a reductionist.”
Miguel took a sip from his glass, watching me closely over its rim: “I definitely am, Angelo. I definitely am. I already simply my life with Clara!”
I smiled. In minutes the room got darker, the aroma of a masculine perfume, coming from nowhere was floating strangely in the air, penetrating my senses. I raised my hands to my temples, and I understood. Angelo, was not talking about any painting of Miriam’s. Nothing in our conversation was about Miriam! Angelo was talking about a pair of cufflinks that Jacques used to wear from time to time; a golden pair of cufflinks encrusted with little roses and something else; something vaguely resembling a spider. What was Angelo trying to tell me? And why was Miguel staring silently at the floor? The ring of a phone surfaced from the depth of my mind. Desperately somebody was calling my name. Who was it? When did it happen? I looked at Miguel. Tears in my eyes, I whispered: “Miquel, please, please!” He drank his bourbon, set the empty glass on the table, and said in a voice that I didn’t recognize: “No, Clara, no!”