“When you were born I was just coming…”
“I don’t believe you,” said Rosa, laughing, “you can’t possibly remember something like that…”
There were fifteen years between them. Rosa was twenty-five and José María forty years old. He was so in love with her, he thought himself capable of anything, even down to remembering what he was doing at the time of her birth: was he actually screwing? At that point in time, he was going out with a very tall, very thin girl, who straightened up every time he put his hand on her waist, making herself appear even taller and bonier than she was already. The girl was a good head taller than him, wore tight lycra and ironed her hair, and she had a stammer. In spite of it all, they had sex. José María had been in a relationship with the girl all year: there was one chance in twenty-eight that they were actually making love on the day that Rosa was born (February). He thought about it in days not in seconds; he was unable to ignore that, according to Dr Dyer, “if an orgasm lasted three minutes, nobody would believe in God”; in addition, if he got his memory to think in such tiny units of time, it would have amounted to putting his own existence in doubt. In any case, it was a joke, a game. And Rosa was enchanted by the very idea. She embraced him.
He let her cover his face with kisses. When Rosa’s ear came close to his mouth, he took the opportunity to ask her:
“Can I take you from behind?”
“Oh…” she replied.
“What’s the matter?”
“I was scared you were going to get around to asking me that one of these days…”
“Don’t you want me to?”
“It’s just that…”
Rosa often left her sentences unfinished. She was highly excited, but starting and stopping while leaving her sentences unfinished was her usual form of speech; it had nothing to do with her state of excitement. She thought at the speed of light, and her thoughts clashed and intercepted one another.
“You’ll like it…”
“I’m not sure…”
“I can assure you.”
José María regarded her a moment in silence and, since Rosa said nothing, he lowered himself from on top of her, lay down at her side and put his hand on her waist to turn her over. But Rosa arched her back and moved away rapidly, as if José María’s hand had given her an electric shock.
She shook her head.
“Come on, Rosa, I mean what I’m saying…”
Rosa propped herself on one elbow across the bed, looked at him and asked:
“Do you love me?”
“You know very well I do…”
“So why do you want to make me…?”
“My love, how on earth does that have anything to do with it? We’ve been going out together for two months…
Do you really love me?”
“I adore you.”
“Well, I adore you too!”
“I knew that one day you’d come to me with…”
“You knew it because you too wanted it. That’s why you knew it.”
“The problem is, it’s that I’ve never…”
“And I’ve never done it either!”
“Why on earth would I lie to you?”
“You’ve never made love like that… with anyone?”
José María bunched his fingers and kissed them, swearing on the form of the cross. The two of them were totally naked in a little hotel room down on the Bajo, where they went on Saturdays. The only thing they were wearing was their watches. Only last week José María had bought two fake Rolexes and given one to Rosa.
José María managed to read the time on Rosa’s Rolex: it was twenty to twelve. Soon it would be noon. The time they would have to vacate the room.
“You weren’t lying to me?”
“What do you want, that I swear it you again? I’ll swear from here to China if you want. I swear solemnly before God.”
“I believe you. How idiotic, if I tell you ‘I believe you’, you’ll think that I’m giving in…”
“Darling, let’s not talk about it any more. We just have twenty minutes left…”
“And in twenty minutes you want to do… Twenty minutes is no time at all for such a thing!”
“Rosa, I love you.”
“Yes, I know you do…”
“What does time matter if we’re in love?”
“It’s just that for me it’s all very…”
“Just try it, whatever. Let me try it. Let’s try it to-gether.”
“And if it hurts me?”
“What do you mean, hurts you? If it hurts you, I’ll stop.”
“Will you love me just the same afterwards?” José María beamed at her.
“Come here, give me a kiss…” he told her.
Rosa kissed him, but only after a pause: she knew that the kiss meant “yes”.
Beneath her reluctance, she was dying for it. She would have given him everything and anything. If he’d had two cocks, he could have given it to her with both. She loved him. Her fear wasn’t that it would hurt, or even that he would lose his respect for her. The truth was that she was not afraid of anything. Her desire overwhelmed her, in the exact same way as her thoughts ran ahead of her words; that was all. No, really nothing more: she simply hadn’t foreseen the time when José María would ask to take her from behind.
They had got to know one another in the queue at the Disco supermarket. José María was a construction worker; Rosa was a maid in the villa belonging to the Blinder family. He had left the site where he’d been working (as yet still a skeleton two blocks away from the mansion) to buy meat and bread for their midday fry-up and had ended up in the line, right behind Rosa, who had been going for her weekly shop: her trolley was overflowing. José María calculated that the young woman had enough purchases to guarantee a good half-hour at the till. He slid a glance at the tills on either side, but the queues were even longer, and an ill-tempered tutting escaped from under his breath. Rosa heard him: she looked at the red plastic basket José María was holding in one hand (containing one packet with bread in it and another with cuts of meat) and said: “Would you like to go through first?”
José María was caught off-guard by her offer. He raised his eyebrows and made a strange movement with his head, both shaking it and nodding at the same time.
“No, I’m fine where I am, no problem…”
He wasn’t used to any kind of friendliness. That was why, when Rosa began to take her purchases out of the trolley, he interpreted her offer as having been more of a reaction to the impatient teeth-clicking sound he’d made a minute before, when he spotted the huge quantity of goods she had bought and was estimating how long it would take her to get through the till with them.
“I didn’t mean…”
Rosa turned and looked at him. She looked at him seriously, silently.
“It’s just that I didn’t mean…” he repeated.
Sometimes he found it particularly hard to make himself understood.
Rosa resumed leaning over her trolley and continued unloading her shopping.
“Thank you all the same,” persisted José María.
“Don’t mention it.”
The till operator smiled and lowered her gaze to the carton of milk she had in her hand, as she typed in the bar code, thinking that this guy and girl had something going, or else they soon would. She wasn’t wrong.