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There was a day I decided to move out from Agustin’s place. Saul, the only friend I had at the time, asked me if I could stay at his house while he left for Mexico because he wanted to leave his room with someone he could trust. His offer was good, and I didn’t have to think so much about it. I stayed in his room, pretty much guarding his stuff, and I even had my own bathroom. Honestly, what I like the most was the giant mirror in the closet.

And the rent? I paid 600 dollars, which is what I paid at Agustin’s apartment.

A no-brainer, huh?

The house was big; three rooms, a guest bathroom, a living room twice as big as the one I used to rent, and a kitchen with a big center table where I actually never ate. I lived with four more people: Tony, Manuel, Rafael, and Nancy. I never socialized with them because I worked at night and slept most of the day. Tony was the only person I had to see all the time since we worked together.

And you know what’s funny? We never got along, even if he was the person who gave me rides back and forth almost every day; I had the feeling he only did that because my cousins asked him to do it as a favor.

I didn’t own a car. Part of me didn’t want to deal with insurance payments, the lines at the DMV, and any other governmental requirement I needed to follow to drive my own fucking car.

I’ve never been good at following rules. Breaking them is a lot more interesting to me.

Eventually, the only serious purchase I made was a cellphone, and only because I knew the payments and requirements weren’t as numerous as those you follow when buying a car. The only reason why I took this decision was to avoid asking somebody else to let me borrow their phone to make long-distance calls; I’d been doing that for a year and was getting pretty tired of it. I mean, if I had to put myself in somebody else’s shoes, I would’ve kicked my own ass after the third time I bothered someone with my weekly annoyance.

Therefore, once I decided that it was time to buy my own phone, I had to make one of these two final choices: ask Tony, the frenemy I worked with, to take me downtown and help me buy a phone or see if one of my cousins could help me out.

I chose the latter.

That first year of my life in this country, I didn’t speak enough English, and that actually made me feel like a parasite. I wanted to do so many things on my own but couldn’t. I hated to be asking for help all the time. I didn’t want to keep living like this any longer.

My cousin Ambrocio was able to take me downtown one afternoon to a T-Mobile store and helped me buy a cheap, bad-looking phone. I mean, it was like Frankenstein’s Monster of the phone industry, and it made me wonder how someone had the guts to create something like this.

Anyway, beggars can’t be choosers.

I decided to quiet down my internal, annoying monologue and use the damned phone for some time. And strangely enough, the first person I thought of calling with my new, ugly phone was the last person I really wanted to talk to.

Rosa, the cheating girlfriend.

That afternoon I didn’t work. I spent my day in Saul’s room, watching a Spanish movie called The Other Side of The Bed, which talked about all of my favorite subjects: women, sex, alcohol, and cigarettes. I also bought one of those pre-paid cards for making long-distance calls. I read the front of the card and laughed at the promise of ‘more minutes for less money.’

Sure, I thought.

I wanted to call my mother, but the monologue inside my head insisted I call Rosa first.

“What for?” I asked the empty room and was actually surprised to hear the answer coming from inside my head.

“Because you need to forgive her.”

“Forgive her?” I asked again.

“Yes,” The Monologue said.

“I think I have,” I insisted.

“No, you haven’t.”

I grew quiet for a second, and the only noise in the room came from the TV, as a group of guys danced around a tennis court, pondering on honesty and the meaning of true love.

The Monologue was right. I hadn’t forgiven her. I called her The Cheating Girlfriend for a reason, right?

By that time, it had been six months since the last time we spoke, and I wasn’t sure how she would react after hearing my voice again. One time, I called one of her sisters to catch up, and she told me Rosa was already married to someone else.

Fuck, I’d thought.

I couldn’t blame her. She was so damned fine. It was obvious some other dog would come and start yapping at her heels. Still, I wanted to call her. It was six in the afternoon when I called. She answered after the third ring, and I could feel my blood sinking to my feet. I looked at my reflection in the closet, and my olive skin turned pale. I was speechless. Still, I needed to talk.

“Hello?” she said for the second time, and perhaps, judging by how she started to breathe, she knew it was I.

“It’s me,” I said. “How are you?”

She said she was ok, and her tone was brusque, the kind you use when you don’t want to talk to someone, and you hope they take the hint and hang up before you say what you actually think. And I know when to take a hint.

“Look,” I said, “I’m not calling to fight, call you names, or tell you something I’d regret later on.” I paused, trying to keep the next sentence to myself. But I couldn’t. “I know you’re married now.” 

She stayed quiet for a long while. I could hear the noise in the background; maybe the whole family was there, including the new husband. I was hoping she would say something else, tell me she was sorry for her mistake, but nothing, absolutely nothing came out of her mouth.

And like I said, I know when to take a hint.

“Ok,” I said. “Know that I wish you luck, and I hope everything works out for you. This is the last time you’re gonna hear from me.” I hung up.

I decided to call my mother another time. I didn’t feel like talking to anybody at that moment.

I looked at the TV, not really paying attention to what I was watching. I felt a bit pathetic at that moment, thinking she’d apologize. I also realized I held a grudge, a mild one, which was why I thought about her so much.

I ended up smiling at my own stupidity, erased her phone number from my memory, and started to focus on the things I could actually manage. Expecting someone’s apology was a complete waste of time. I stood up, walked toward the closet, opened it, and grabbed my notebook. “My story,” I said, “this is the only thing I’m gonna be able to change.”


Photo by Alexas_Fotos.

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