ISSN 2359-4101

Brazilian Literature in Translation / Literatura Brasileña en Traducción

Issue / Numero

year/año: 2012
issue/numero: # 05

A Sketch of Ana

Author | Autor: Tony Monti

Translated by Catherine Howard

The glass fell onto the pillows, just like I planned.
When I got back from the airport, I closed the door behind me and felt
a kind of solitude that was different from what I would feel whenever
Ana would decide to go back home after spending several days at my
apartment.At those times, I would breathe deeply, aware of the rhythm of my
muscles contracting and relaxing, while I went through the rooms picking up from
our time spent together, until everything was tidy. Then I would make the bed,
lie down, and open a book. Or I might sit down in front of the television. But
yesterday, besides being aware of my breathing, I felt like kicking the door of the
refrigerator, punching the mirrors and windows, and shouting. Break everything,
bring the whole place down.
I thought about the glass cups; I wanted to throw them against the kitchen wall. I
was in a hurry. I remembered that the only thing I’d ever broken by throwing it against
a wall was a telephone, after I’d been trying for hours to reach Ana and she didn’t
answer. Then I remembered how, during the months we were together, I would tease
Ana about the number of glasses she had broken at my place. I would say I was
keeping a file on the statistics: 1.4 glasses per month, 1.6, 0.9—the numbers would
change if she broke more than usual or if she went a while without breaking any. These
two images of Ana enveloped my anger before I even picked up the first glass.
I wanted to throw the glasses as hard as I could, but I was afraid the broken
pieces might cut me as they ricocheted. I didn’t care if my arms or back got cut, but
I wanted to protect my eyes and, if possible, my whole face. Maybe I could stand
at the door and throw them against the back of the kitchen, then hide behind the
hall wall. I thought about how much I’d enjoy seeing the pieces of glass fly through
the air without the risk of getting cut. I don’t know whether Ana liked or disliked
moments such as these, when I organized my anger by imagining what I might do,
but yesterday it seemed ridiculous trying to deal with the degree of anger I felt. It
was much more intense than usual for me. I felt the need to give form to my urgency,
to follow its rhythm, to objectify the sense that everything was a matter of life and
death. I don’t know either whether Ana’s contrasting manner of doing everything
in a distracted, unplanned way attracted or repelled me more. Now separated by
an ocean, I miss the steady noise that arose when she was nearby. Silence is the
opposite of Ana.
I thought of protecting myself with a plastic bag over my head so I could see
the glass when it shattered all over the kitchen, forgetting that the pieces could cut
the plastic. But I got worried I’d suffocate and be found dead, without leaving a
letter that would explain that I’d simply wanted to protect myself from the broken
glass. I thought about throwing plates and pots, knocking down the cupboards and
bookshelf. I thought about taking off the glass top of the coffee table in the living
room and using it as a shield. I thought about throwing glasses out the apartment
window. I thought about throwing myself out the window. I thought about breaking
the glasses in the living room, where there would be fewer places for the broken
pieces to get lost, making it easier to clean up.
I wanted to make sure that no glass was left on the floor the next day because,
even if it might be somewhat pleasant to get cut a little bit as the anger pulsed
through my muscles, consistent with my desire to destroy something, it would be
nasty getting my foot cut later on, when my grief had subsided. I remembered
sometimes shouting, supposedly out of despair, with a pillow over my mouth so the
neighbors wouldn’t hear me. I remembered having more than once drawn my hand
toward the buttocks of some unknown woman, without touching her, without her
noticing. I didn’t say anything to her, not even in the slow, halting voice people use
when searching for common ground, nor did I risk the thrill of grabbing her ass and
accepting her rebuke or fleeing into the crowd.
I was getting distracted, losing myself in thought as a way of avoiding getting
cut. I remembered how lightly Ana went from one idea to another, how she could
not tell a story straight through because she would stitch on others and forget to
finish the first. How she would be late for appointments because she found things
to do along the way. Maybe it was not merely by accident that she broke glasses,
either because she was thinking about some book, about work, or about me, but just
because she liked breaking glasses all the time. That’s what she did, maybe because
not wanting to break glasses would somehow mean she didn’t like herself. I enjoyed
how similar to her I had become. My situational despair, because she had left and
would not be coming back, resembled her permanent state of distracted urgency
My scheme began to take shape when I saw two heavy towels on the clothesline,
one mine, the other hers. If I threw the glasses against the hanging laundry, their
speed would be broken and they would fall right there. The pieces of glass would
not scatter too far, which had both advantages and disadvantages: I wouldn’t get
cut, but neither would I get to see the moment they smashed. Everything would
break on the floor, so I could collect the pieces later on with less work. The operation
seemed to work well enough, but the end result was strange, with the glasses simply
cracked, as if they had fallen from my hand. So I collected pillows from the sofa and
bed to create a protective padding under the towels. I threw the first glass with all
my strength. Like my would-be shouts muffled by a pillow, the glass got wrapped in
the towel and almost stopped mid-air before it unwrapped and fell onto a pillow. I
thought again about Ana before fetching a few more glasses to throw at the laundry.
If Ana were with me and got excited over the idea of throwing glasses without
breaking them, she probably would have hurled one and missed the towel, breaking
it against the wall. Her excessive manner makes me want to break things rather than
find a way to act without destroying things. The degree of her destructive potential
makes my thoughts tremble. And I like it.
I threw nine more glasses, each with increasing strength until the sixth one,
when the novelty wore off and I just wanted to finish up the task I’d started. I left
the glasses right where they lay and went to bed, sleeping without any pillows. This
morning, I picked up everything, just like I used to when Ana would leave for a while,
except that those times, she would be coming back.

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