Carcass of a Household
Disclaimer: this is my first short tale in English, it hasn’t been revised so expect some spanish clumsiness. Also BEWARE, mature disturbing content ahead.
Homosexuality was not an option in Spain during the 50s, so I got married. Still, my love for Dolores was heartfelt. Every morning I’d wear the husk of a thriving office worker inside a beige suit with a dark brown tie, comb my hair from side to side, and sport a quite masculine shaved chin.
Daylight felt like a languid dreaminess, my head filled with mundane tasks, always surrounded by a stagnant discussion around the last football match. Then, whenever the little handle pointed 6 for the second time a day, my chest would be struck by the sting of a venomous dry shock, and my heart would start pumping through all my body a seething black serum. Time to go home.
Every step made my lungs smaller as I approached home, a crowd of brown and gray apartment blocks gathered to watch my feet sinking in the sidewalk. As I saw my apartment’s door, like every afternoon, I froze, not for meeting my wife, but out of the usual presage of not finding her. Before putting the key through the lock, I glimpsed at the only translucent window on the ground floor, letting the light in but not any looks ─Please, God, don’t let her be inside that room again─ I opened the door.
We lived on a small apartment at the street level of a ten stories building. The whole ground floor was owned by my wife’s family, there were four tenements. I opened the door to mine, an acid puncture in my heart kept me from voicing “I’m home.” I closed the door slowly, scouting the eery silence, praying to hear a cough, a broom or a dish. Not a sound. The tension built on the back of my head while I fought to hold a tear. I walked in the living room and my teeth snapped when I saw that old woman’s room door closed. I don’t know who the old woman we had to live with was, but she was important in the family, and for some reason Dolores chose to endure her instead of killing her. I wish I had the courage myself to beat that old demon to death, but I hadn’t even seen her face since we moved here. Once more, Dolores was inside that room, locked from the inside. I refrained to cry so hard I almost vomited. I leaned onto the wall and slowly began to deflate until I was standing on my knees. ─I must not cry, I must not cry─ mumbled my usual mantra. But facing such situation for five hundred days already was so infernal, so surreal, my denial dragged my knees through the room until my head touched the door. My mouth open like a lobotomized patient, I pressed my ear against the oak.
The thick wood tuned the sounds coming from the room like a diabolic harbinger. I could hear the faint but accelerated respiration of Dolores, while the old woman masturbated my wife compulsively. I closed my eyes and my mind began to form the urine-soaked corners of that harpy’s lair, both women lying over a cross-stitched quilt. Dolores began to choke, so I could picture those old opaline bone claws around her young neck, draining my wife’s sanity through the same hole that sucked in the hag’s mind time ago. Then the beating started. With time I learned to discern between a smack in the neck and a pull of the hair. Not matter how many times I heard it, it always made me to plunge my nails inside my chest when the old woman started to shake Dolores’ head, swaying her around the room. My wife only cried during the first month after this started. Her head slammed against the door and startled me. I cried. Tears flowed as profusely as my screams.
I didn’t need to keep listening to know the old woman began to masturbate Dolores again, that was the endless cycle. I crawled through the room yelling in agony, provoking what I knew that followed if I cried. I heard his keys inside my home’s lock. A man in his sixties, the younger son of the ogress, came through the corridor and walked towards me. No rush. He always wore a gray suit and I never dared to look at his face. I knew his hands so well, though. Specially his brown quartered right hand, crowned by a heavy gold wristwatch. He always caressed with his tanned fingers the living room’s sideboard before giving me a beating. He punched me in the ribs, arms and stomach until I stopped crying. He always succeeded. When he made sure I was a silent pile of meat, he retired again to his apartment, next to ours.
Anxiety collapsed my senses for what I believe was a hour. Trapped into a warm fog my organs tried to fight reality off, unable to understand a single bit of existence. I can’t recall even if I breathed. I ceased to exist. Slowly, I began to feel my teeth, violently pressed against each other. I relaxed my jaw and a broken rib reminded me I was still a living being. My dry eyes blinked and started drawing the shapes of the living room again. The oak door was still there. I got up and walked outside that building. It was dark outside, except for an orange streetlight drenching the only translucent window on the ground floor, letting the light in but not any looks. I sat below that window and thought about running away. But I loved my wife. A light knock drew my eyes towards the translucent window, through which you could still read the closest objects across it. Dolores’ face was pressed against the glass. I looked her in the eyes but she couldn’t see me, blind out of desolation, she forfeited life long ago. Interlaced with her dark hair, I observed that grip made out of white bones. I dared to send my sight deeper through that glass and found the last piece my imagination hadn’t build through the oak door. The old woman was smiling.