By Mario Flecha – Illustration Oscar Grillo

______________________________________________________________________________

Our first real love is seismic and in order to exist as deeply and intoxicating as it should be, cannot conceive physical imperfections. This is because it is always pure and purity demands perfection, or does it?

“Women constantly meet glances which act like mirrors, reminding them of how they look or how they should look. Behind every glance there is judgement.”

John Berger, Ways of Seeing.


The holidays were over. -We’re going back to London tomorrow – said my twin sister chirping like a cricket.  While she shouted, I thought of Anastasia.  Sadness, a sentiment unknown to me, invaded my soul when I said goodbye to Anastasia.  We promised to postpone our emotions until next summer.

This summer had passed with the excitement I felt every morning on getting up and thinking that in a few hours I would smell the sweet-sour scent of Anastasia’s skin.  The magic of summertime was like a hungry whale devouring the days, hiding them in its stomach until the holidays stopped being today and became yesterday.  

The sadness that accompanied me on the journey to London was proportional to the happiness I had felt on falling in love with Anastasia.

The year went by slowly.  I waited for her letters or emails, sometimes we spoke on FaceTime although the latter left me in a bad mood.  I masturbated so my passion used to explode in incredible orgasms.

One day, sitting in the kitchen with my sister, our elbows leaning on the pine table with its pink grain, I pushed the candlestick with its dying candle to one side and confessed I loved Anastasia.

-I knew it, because I spied on you and saw you holding hands and kissing – she said.

I dreamt we were walking at sunset through Sete, climbing up to Mont Saint Clair and spending time in the maritime cemetery where we visited Paul Valery’s tomb.

My sister, whose sense of humour was as unpleasant as her voice, teased me about my emotional intoxication.

-Did you notice she never used sandals? – she said.

-What?

-Anastasia always used trainers.

-What do you mean?

-She’s got a secret and that’s why she keeps her right foot hidden.

-What?

-Her middle toe sits on top of her fourth toe.

-Lies – I shouted, not believing what I heard.

My sister went to the kitchen sink and came back with a jug full of water which she poured over my head.

-To put out the fire- she laughed.

Furious and soaking wet I ran after her but she escaped shutting herself in the bathroom.

The revelation blew my mind. – How could I love somebody with a defect? – I asked myself.

Days later, having calmed my anxieties, I persuaded my sister to let me take photos of her feet.

We carefully painted her toenails a red colour, put her middle toe on top of her fourth toe and then I took photos from every angle imaginable.  

I passed the photos from digital camera to computer and with Photoshop merged the images of Anastasia’s legs with my sister’s feet.

Autumn’s darkness gave way to that of winter and then spring appeared gingerly ceding to summer.

-Long live the sun!- shouted my sister as the car went towards the coastal road.  My mother drove the indefatigable Citroen, my father by her side reading a map of the area.  My sister and I fought.  

We drove past the tranquil waters of the Tau lagoon. 

Like every summer, we were going to the town of Sete and like every summer my father reminded us that it was founded in the XVII century by Louis XIV of France who dictated that the Midi Canal would die in the Mediterranean sea at the foot of Mont Saint-Clair.

On arrival in Sete, the outlines of the narrow two or three storey houses were visible with their flat rooves, the sun biting their walls, peeling the cement rendering from the bricks.

Terraces were transformed into gardens with plants hanging over walls and escaping onto the street, balconies decorated with cast iron railings, mixed flower pots full of red blooms together with the outlines of hanging washing.  Telephone and electricity cables criss-crossed and knocked shamelessly  against the house facades.  Narrow cobbled streets wound endlessly.

We arrived at our house in one of the streets in the old Quarter Haut of Sete.  I was wild with happiness as I would soon see Anastasia.

However, the carefree kisses and caresses of last year before I had known about her middle toe, worried me.  I tried to play down the story of her crooked toe but my curiosity got the better of me.

Our first meeting of the summer had to be a surprise for her.   I went to spy on her in the morning.  Walking to the top of the hill, I slid downhill with my eyes trained on her front door before I decided the best place to see her come out of her house would be by hiding behind a staircase in the semi-abandoned garden in front of her house.

When I saw her come out, I had to control myself so as not to run towards her.  Happiness assaulted me, my eyes rested on her tanned legs – moulded by the hand of God – I told myself. – Shit! Why was God so careless with the details?

I followed her to the beach car park.  She ran towards the sea, I hid between the dunes and the bushes.  I saw she was wearing multi-coloured espadrilles and how she threw a towel onto the sand, walked round the towel pulling the corners to leave a perfect rectangle on the ground, then sat on top of it and started the ritual of undressing.

As she took off her right shoe she dug her foot into the sand so quickly that I couldn’t see her toes.  Then, keeping her foot hidden, she sat up and took off her blouse of an indefinite colour, folding it into four and leaving it in the middle of her towel and then began to take off her skirt.  Leaving it rolled round her ankles she made some convulsive movements which distracted me and stopped me from seeing her right foot before it became covered again by the sand.

I went nearer and sat down beside her on the sand.  She was surprised to see me and through little hiccups, said my name over and over – Matias, Matias.

The waves got dangerously close to caressing the toes of her left foot which she had abandoned over the edges of the towel while her right knee was bent towards the sky and the sand hid the motive of my curiosity.

She was lying on her towel, semi-naked, her breasts small, her waist narrow allowing her hips to burst in happy rotundness leading to her legs which would end in her crooked toes. 

I discovered the perfection of her round forehead losing itself in her grey eyes while her cheek bones fell gently towards her exuberant, ripe fruit lips.

Tears ran down our cheeks.  We kept quiet until we started to laugh.  We hugged for a long time, murmuring happily.  Not knowing what to do, I passed her a crumpled piece of paper I had found in the street with a text by Ladious Azur.  She took it carefully, I felt her fingertips brush my arm.  Then she began to read.

-The jam jar was full of crocodile feathers, opened while wounded birds flew towards the sky taking three decorations in their beaks.  The yellow balloons smell of infantile shit and shower the rainbow…..Ladious Azur.

-Where did you find this piece of paper?- she asked while putting a finger on my lips to stop me from speaking.  – Who is Ladious Azur?

-Nobody knows – he’s a poet who lives in Buenos Aires and has never published a book – his poetry can be found on the streets of various cities.  They say he has friends around the world who distribute his poems on crumpled sheets of paper leaving them in streets and parks and even sometimes in Sete.  It’s very lucky to find a poem.

Smiling, Anastasia stroked my eyelids.  

-There’s something romantic about it, like the poet in Savage Detectives by the writer from Blanes.

I interrupted the happiness of meeting her asking her               

– Why did you hide your foot in the sand?

A glimmer of irritation crossed her face.

-Because he who sees my toes will be blinded – she said as she buried her leg in the sand.

The sun, saturated by furies, was reflected in the blue of the sea.  In the distance, the horizon created an infinite line periodically interrupted by the flight of a bird or a moored boat.

I watched her, confused, my brain in turmoil as I imagined her middle toe riding her fourth.

-I found a piece of paper thrown into the Midi Canal too – she said as she opened her bag and gave me a page.

-Read it.

-I’m thinking that my right hand is pretending to be my left and my left pretends to be my right hand, that both are trying to confuse me but that I know the left is on the right and the right is on the left and yet they insist I am mistaken so I begin again.  If I look at the right hand from behind, it is on the right but if I look at it from the front it is the left hand, and the same happens with the left hand.

Then it occurs to me that the hands are neither on the right or the left as there would have to be an impossible splitting to know with certainty where they are. 

Our complicity was perfect but one detail had me worried.

If, as she had threatened, I became blind before I saw her toes?  Would I prefer ignorance and sight or perhaps reality and to suffer the green darkness blindness promised?

I looked at her, she looked at me understanding my doubts.

-Why do you want to see my toes?

-Curiosity.

-I’m afraid of the consequences.  I wouldn’t want you to become blind.  Do you know, I don’t believe Ladious Azur exists or if he does, I know who he is.  He is the only one who could help you by telling me one of his stories and if I like it, I’ll show you my foot.

I blushed.  Anastasia had realised the piece of paper I had given her, supposedly by a poet from Buenos Aires, had been written by me simply because it was in my hand writing.

-Shall I tell you a love story? – I asked.

-As long as it isn’t tragic.

-It’s the story of Donald Trump and Melanie….

Donald the Snail was travelling in a distant place, (Miami).  He didn’t sing flamenco songs, he just had murky, sexual ideas and a very developed ego.  His favourite song was MeMe by the republican band, the Twitter.  

Donald the Snail used to walk around the city to Seduce Snails –  he liked them all. 

His sexual dissatisfaction was a turning point.  I must confess I don’t know what I’m trying to say with turning point but the combination of those two words seems to me to be very lovely. 

Well – Donald was a very, very macho Snail and on one of his hunts he met a very pretty Snail from a distant country.  He fell totally in love; she was a young beauty with a spiral shell of unimaginable colours.

He looked at her antennas, fascinated by her honey coloured eyes and christened her Melania.  Flirting, she called him Tramposo.*  

They made love as only snails know how; he left a trail of calcium carbonate and she burst with desire, they copulated fervently for five hours.  Exhausted, they sat down to watch the day’s news on TV.

-“The president is a hermaphrodite”- said the newsreader.

Donald the Snail asked Melania what that meant.  Furious, he started attacking the TV shouting – Fake news.

Surprised, she said- You speak Ingle!

Once he had calmed down, they went to the amusement park and amused themselves like mad riding on the Russian mountain.-

Anastasia couldn’t contain the smile that bloomed on her lips.  Around her, the dunes extended for kilometres like an immense animal lying on the earth surrounded by parasols sticking up like mushrooms from the sand.  When her smile had subsided, she raised her right leg lazily then kicked the air while at the same time saying:

-Your sister LIED.

* A person who is a cheat or swindler. 

______________________________________________________________________________

Translation: Camilla Flecha

Mario Flecha is a writer, art critic and former editor of the art magazine Untitled. He currently divides his time between England and Spain.