23 August 2018
IT IS BARELY half past six when Juan receives his wife’s call. He hesitates, deciding whether to reply or not. For a number of months, their relationship had been declining. As a matter of fact, they didn’t have any major conflicts. Maybe there lies the problem. Nothing happened between them. Days and weeks offered a picture which turned out to be much less exciting than he’d expected after leaving the Business School.
He finally decides to answer.
“Hi, honey. How are you?”
Adriana rushes to tell him her plan:
“I’m going to Oropesa with Malory and her husband for a week in August.”
Juan didn’t like the idea. “Once again with that Irish girl?” he thinks with a hint of distaste.
“Juan, are you there?”
He is completely absorbed with the dream catcher which hung from the rear-view mirror.
“Okay,” he replies with resignation.
“It doesn’t seem to please you very too much,” she blurts out.
“And have you already bought the ticket? I need the car.”
“She’s picking me up and taking me there.”
“Well, that’s fine. I’m hanging up, I must drive. I’ll see you in a while.”
“I love you.”
“See you, Darling.”
He keeps his jealousy and envy firmly suppressed. He wouldn’t be able to make his holidays coincide with Adriana’s, as she worked in a local nursery school. Instead, he always had to beg for a week in October, another one at Christmas and the rest at the management board’s discretion.
Adriana, born in Cordoba, although lacking a strong accent, had moved to El Grao, a peaceful Mediterranean coastal town where they met. They hadn’t arranged a wedding ceremony, but they didn’t care about that, as the marriage was formalized with the signing of documents.
Well into their thirties, they hadn’t made a definitive decision about having children, which was always controversial for them.
They spent their weekends at the opera or the theatre, at restaurants, walking along the beach or strolling around shops at the shopping centre, without a precise direction.
* * * *
AS SOON AS he’s gobbled down dinner, Juan goes to his bedroom alone, thirty minutes before her. He feels tired and weak. He slowly closes his eyelids and recalls his first encounter with the Irish couple, several years back….
“Let’s have lunch with a university classmate,” suggested Adriana to celebrate their joining a kindergarten school where they stayed for a few months. At the bar were only a few couples and small groups of friends.
Malory proved to be a bit nosy, and he was under the impression that she talked too enthusiastically about kids, and the songs that she and Adriana used to sing with them; their daily routine. Her husband was a sweet-talker who pretended to pay attention to everything Juan and Adriana did. Anything to carry on a conversation. “Very interesting,” he repeated all the time. Juan perceived the situation as a mere formality, as he was a shy person who hated socializing. Juan really valued privacy with Adriana, so he tried to enjoy quality time with her, given that he got so exhausted working as an event planner and visiting relatives on a regular basis.
Brendan, on the other hand, kept telling anecdotes about his work as an insurance salesman, in which he boasted about his excellent results. He wanted to make sure that other people’s opinions about him were positive. To make matters worse, Juan despised all such displays of effusiveness; he sought to be diligent in everything he did and was polite with his friends, without falling into feigned flattery.
Everything else would have been irrelevant if he hadn’t begun to notice how Adriana looked at the Irishman. He could have sworn that, with that smug attitude, he was trying to impress her and be above everyone. They both had a gleam in their eyes that seemed suspicious.
He never said anything to her obviously, because it never occurred to him that a girl as romantic and sensitive as Adriana would give any importance to that squirt’s calls for attention. However, the frequency with which the woman went to her friends’ house alone, ended up irritating him……
With his mind entangled in such memories, he falls peacefully asleep, unaware that the worst is yet to come.