Bulls (English version)
Adriana González Mateos
She raises a closed pair of scissors and asks: “What shape do these remind you of?”
You run up the stairs in leaps but you hear the television and you stop, you hesitate as if you were going back down again, as if you heard your grandmother calling you to go for an ice cream or on the last step you understood that you prefer playing with the other children although you like listening to the conversations of adults, quite silently. The noise of the television paralyzes you. Among all those who talk downstairs with their voices full of smoke and drink coffee or collect the cups only you have noticed that slight increase in volume that swallows up the trace of your foot on the stair. You said you were going to your room, you want to put on a sweater but you can’t resist the temptation to glance in at the study invaded by noise, a long, long right hand pass, the bull lowers its head, another glorious pass in the fifth of the afternoon, you see it paw the sand, made uneasy by an odor it doesn’t recognize between the dry earth, sawdust, bits of manure. Something captures your eyes, they empty out as if they were the eyes of a plant. One might think that you’re looking at the screen, the bellowing animal, but it’s something much closer. You take a step, another, you advance as if you were obeying an order under the gaze that circles over you and makes you think of a vulture, the sun beats on its wings and makes them brilliant, black.
The bull follows the cape stunned by the acrid odor. It tries to shake off the barbs, to forget the clapping, the whistles, the cape insists, inviting it to charge, it launches itself in a blind fury at the red cloth. You also lower your head, you are unable to utter a word, to resist the hand that falls on your shoulder and obliges you to come closer while you search for a way out. You don’t yet know the tricks that women use, you can’t find the words nor the gestures nor the cunning, the pressure on your shoulder grows heavier, you bend your knees, you turn your eyes away like the animal shakes its ears and snorts amidst the menacing odor. The zipper comes apart, one tooth after another, lower and lower, a tiny creak. Your face is so close that the smell of slightly moist cloth, of sweat, of hair, mixes with the far-away clinking of the cups, the shouts of your cousins playing at statues, a bolero someone put on to go with the anisette and election talk, so many words don’t give you even one single idea for avoiding the open zipper, the murmurs. Shut up, how clumsy you are, you feel fingers on the back of your neck, you are behaving badly, your mother could find out, you pull your head away, you have to wash the pots, the hand pushes making you search amid the clothing.
The teeth of the zipper scrape your cheek, if anyone downstairs finds out but you have to open your mouth and that makes no noise although you try to get away, no one even hears the whistling of the ring, tension grows in the crowd, all at once everyone grows hushed and you could hear a pin drop in the huge ring because he takes out the sword and calls the bull and one of the late afternoon glints plays with the blade, you try to pull your head away and you see the buckle, the belt, the swollen vein, what good will it do you to shut your eyes.
He kills on entry, the creature falls back with the iron in its lungs, forced to breathe its own blood, to lose track but you feel the fingers on your neck, you almost see the gush of water falling to a soapy pool. You are going to swallow, despite the gagging feeling in your throat, to nurse like a veal calf. Its entrails spit out the blade, it paws broken skin. The bellowing goes nowhere, it trips, sand incrusts itself in its nostrils and at last it recognizes the fetid odor of dried blood, trampled in the howling circle. The clamor is filling your ears, you suck to get a little air, odd phrases filter in over the collection, today’s mass in the morning, your mother must be washing the dishes and almost like a grazing on your cheek you hear, don’t be scared. No one would think to come up the stairs because another bolero is starting and the pressure on your neck doesn’t lessen, handkerchiefs sprinkle the crowds and they shout two ears, tail, if anyone notices your absence they’ll think you’re playing with the scissors again, they’ll think you went to the bathroom or they’ll suppose that you’re here but don’t be afraid, I’ll defend you if they say you’re a strange girl, if they make fun because you’re quiet. Don’t be scared: if anyone thinks, they’ll think that we are here alone, you and I watching the bullfights.*
Translated by Persephone Braham
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BOOKS BY ADRIANA GONZÁLEZ MATEOS (CNL-INBA)
"Papeles de septiembre", from Di algo para romper este silencio, by Guillermo Samperio (feature. Google Books)
INTERVIEW (Portal estudiantil)
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|Fuente: * From the book Cuentos para ciclistas y jinetes. México, Editorial Aldvs/DifocurSinaloa, 1995. La Torre Inclinada.|