hobart logo
Pendejadas! photo

I read some Neruda when I was a teenager. Fifteen years later, the only verse that came to mind when I first met you was the one about the almonds. You furrowed your brow, which sonnet? I don’t know, like, the line about wanting to eat someone’s skin like an almond. You winced a little. Said you recognized the poem now, and it made you feel prudish. Me too, maybe that’s why I remember it. Mm, yes, it’s possible, you said, and kissed your back against the wall…We met in the smoking section of a pub in Dalston. I started talking to you because you weren’t smoking, and I asked you where you were from. Chile, you said. I told you I’d been to San Diego as a kid. It’s Santiago, you smiled. Santiago, yes, I’m sorry, it’s late. That’s ok, you said, it’s a strange country. Just a long, thin line, far away from here. I asked if you missed it and you said you did sometimes, particularly the cold air from the Pacific. It’s cold in London I said, inanely, as I motioned towards the goosebumps on my legs, bare on this late night in July. You shook your dark hair as if to suggest you were cold now too… We spent the summer together in London. We lazed in the Heath. Bumped knees under tables, split bags of salted nuts. Lagers and IPAs, swapped them amongst ourselves halfway. Watched teens flirt on Primrose Hill. Went to Camden in the evening, which you kept calling Candem. It’s really trash here in Candem, you commented each time. Insisted we kept going anyway. You were ten years older than me, so you lived more life. (We kept it at that, “lived more life”, except sometimes I’d scrunch my eyes and point at the fat wrinkles I couldn’t see forming around them, and you’d throw peanuts at me). You liked to tell me about that life, in dribs and drabs. Like how you consulted a psychic who prophesized your mother feared something while you were in the womb, what, he wouldn’t say, a psychic can’t reveal his secrets, and he also told you mama must’ve eaten too many sweets, that is to say, too much of a good thing, and that that explains everything. Pendejadas, you scoffed. I wiped the grease off my fingers… You complimented them, thin and long. Red polish. I confessed that I get them manicured by this perverted nailtech who’d call me cute and spend too long on the massage. I let him, it was too good a deal, only £26. You laughed, said something racist, and then… I told you about some ancient heartache that I was beginning to forget. You swatted me like only halfway through, called me cringe, it’s too cringe, you said, and shook your head, and that shut me up. Life’s too short… You took us to a French movie in Soho. You bought tickets in advance, right in the middle of the theatre. We were late and when we got settled in, there was a sex scene between a woman and her stepson. I felt your breath on my cheek as you said, get up, we’re leaving. You turned back to the people seated in our row, wrinkled and balding and serious and annoyed, and said, I’m sorry but it’s very bad movie. I trailed behind you and tried not to step on anyone’s toes. I probably did. Outside, I said pendejadas. You bought me a pint, good girl, you learn fast… We took the tube and got lost switching lines, and I said to follow me, because you’re a foreigner and you’re my responsibility. You stooped your head over mine and said you liked the sound of that, and that if you were mine, I’d be yours. I could have cried. You commented that the seats were dirty. That’s why they have those loud patterns, you said, to hide the filth. We shouted about our hatred of Paolo Coelho through the train’s howling din. Our hands touched, holding the railing as we hurtled forward. Sweaty… I found out you had a wife, stupidly. The weather had only just begun to turn. I asked you what you’d been doing with me, this whole time, and your features crumpled up, as if bracing for the wind. I asked if you’d leave her, you shook your dark hair. Someday you’ll understand. Winter has this really ugly way of ruining everything. You went back to South America where summer was beginning again for you… I’ll tell the next guy about how lives are contoured by fine, long, cold lines that tremor like waves in waters unknown. It doesn’t matter where,