Mariana Comes to Visit
I ended up here because of my allergies. The headaches, the congestion, and the fatigue had become unbearable. After various rounds of antihistamines, injections, and other treatments, my doctor suggested that I spend a few weeks by the ocean. There was no harm in giving it a try. Nobody was going to miss me. So, I turned in all the vacation time that I had saved up for two years and came to this tiny coastal town to recuperate.
I spent my days strolling along the beach and thinking that if my life were a book, there would be no underlined passage, no dog-eared page indicating that there was something important there.
That’s why, when I met Mariana, I surrendered myself completely. I wanted her to be that page. And I got my wish.
The first time I saw her, she was out beyond the waves, by where the sea swells. Her eyes were closed and she just let herself be rocked by the ocean. I sat down to watch her from a distance. When she sensed me looking at her, she started directly for me. She sat down beside me and started talking to me about the sea. Her speech was strange: she hesitated putting one word in front of the other. I recited some verses about the sea that I had memorized when I was child. After looking at me intently, Mariana jumped on top of me and started to rock back and forth while she brushed herself up against my pants. When she felt my erection, she pulled out my penis and slid me into her deeper and deeper until she came. I fell asleep under the weight of her tiny body and, when I woke up, she was nowhere to be found.
From that moment until the night of the accident, I returned every afternoon to that same deserted beach to hear her talk about the sea and to spill myself into her.
That woman would wash over me with a musical rhythm, interrupted only by violent, climactic spasms. With each of her thrusts, her scent became more and more penetrating. She would breathe deeply and I would follow suit. We would fill ourselves with the salty perfume of her body until, at the brink of orgasm, Mariana would ask me to tell her what she smelled like, and I invented metaphors to please her. Not once could I overcome the exhaustion that followed, and when I would open my eyes, Mariana had already disappeared.
I asked about her in the town. No one knew her. I looked for her on nearby beaches at different times. Nothing. Mariana was just on that beach and in that slice of afternoon.
During our next few encounters, I asked her to come back with me to the city. She avoided my question by making me lose myself in her body. My time at the coast was coming to an end, and now a previously unknown desire invaded me. I became a desperate man.
That’s why I decided to take her with me.
While she mounted me that last time on the beach, I held her down until I could tie her up and stow her away in my car.
She was unbelievably strong for a woman so small. As soon as we turned onto the main avenue, she freed herself from the rope that immobilized her, took control of the wheel and made us crash into a guard wall.
Most likely alerted by the neighbors, the police came almost immediately.
Mariana was roiling, shouting incoherently, and rocking violently, she hit the police officers.
They checked her into a psychiatric clinic, and I spent the night in the jail cells at the precinct.
The next day I went to the clinic. It seemed more like a seaside rest home than a state-run institution for the mentally ill. When I asked the nurse for Mariana’s room number, she said that I had to speak to the doctor first. “Acute depression, psychotic breaks, possibly autism,” I heard him say.
I went into her room and found Mariana sitting on the floor, sniffing her armpits.
“What are you doing?” I asked her.
“My smell tells me I exist,” she turned and looked at me. “I don’t exist here. Get me out.”
I wanted to tell her that it didn’t matter what the doctor had told me about her, that I wanted her for myself.
“Mariana, why don’t you want to leave with me?”
She seemed to not have heard me, and now she was sniffing her bare feet. I knelt down next to her and searched for her eyes.
“Are you listening? Smell,” and she offered me one of her feet. “The smell, it says what?”
I went quiet. I wasn’t going to take her bait.
“It says I don’t exist here. Smell.” She spread her legs, plunged her fingers into her vagina and held them out to me. “Smells how?”
I jumped up and turned my back to her. Outside the sea was rough, and it had begun to rain. I couldn’t let her drag me under; I had to be stronger.
“I can get you out of here, just tell me that you’ll come with me.”
“How it smells to you? Say!”
I looked at her. Her eyes filled with fury and then immediately with sadness. She rolled up into a ball and started to cry at my feet. I knelt down next to her again and held her tiny hand, a hand that didn’t seem to be made out of flesh.
I let myself be swallowed up.
“It smells like violent seas…” I told her.
I brought her fingers to my tongue and licked them slowly. Mariana started to squirm. A small puddle began to form under her bathrobe.
“How I smell? All of me?” she asked.
“You smell like rocks, like cliffs.”
She grabbed my hand and brought it to her vagina: it was completely wet. Then my mind went blank and I dove into her.
I was adrift in the warm sea inside of Mariana, when out of her a wave was born, a raging swell that barreled against me until it left me unconscious.
When I came to my senses, I found myself alone on the beach. The ocean was calm. It didn’t take long for the clinic’s security to arrive. They apprehended me. The charges against me were categorical; the explanations, counterproductive.
Now I occupy her room.
I’m not alone; she comes to see me. I know because I can smell her from here: humid, salty, merciless.
Translated by Caragh Barry
Produced in workshop with Suzanne Jill Levine
Úrsula Fuentesberain (Celaya, Mexico, 1982) is an author and independent journalist. Fuentesberain is the author of the short story collection Esa membrana finísima (Fondo Editorial Tierra Adentro, 2014). Her work has been published in eleven narrative anthologies, the most recent of which are El tótem de la rana (BUAP, Puebla, 2018), Motivos de sobra para inquietarse (Libros Pimienta, Ciudad de México, 2017), and Tiempos irredentos (Nagari, Miami, 2017). She has twice been a recipient of the Young Creators Scholarship from the National Fund for Culture and Arts (Mexico). Fuentesberain has also worked as a journalist for more than thirteen years, and her work has appeared in digital and print media in Mexico, the United States, Colombia, and Peru. Fuentesberain currently teaches graduate courses at the Universidad Iberoamericana.
Caragh Barry (Syracuse, NY, 1991) is a translator. Barry is a Teaching Assistant and PhD student in Hispanic Literature and Translation Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Previously, she worked as an editorial assistant for Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas in New York.
The seventh issue of Latin American Literature Today highlights indigenous voices with dossiers dedicated to three Wayuu writers from Colombia and Zapotec poetry and prose. We also pay homage to renowned Venezuelan poet Eugenio Montejo with a special dossier, as well as returning to the strange worlds of Latin American science fiction and opening a new space for Brazilian literature in Portuguese and English.