Eugenia and Adolfo
The kids were still sleeping, and Eugenia looked at the tiny hourglass measuring stitches of time in the kitchen with its fine white grains of sand. She knew she had to take the egg out of the pot. She did and she held it under the faucet a few seconds so it would cool down. At the edge of the sink, she peeled it and out of the egg came Adolfo with a baguette on his shoulder. The two of them hugged and kissed as if they hadn’t seen each other in years. Blowing on his fingers because the bread was quite hot, Adolfo broke off a piece and gave it to Eugenia. Afterwards, he went out walking in the street with his bread and his day on his shoulder.
It was almost eight o’clock at night when Adolfo returned. After kissing Eugenia and his kids, he curled himself up until he was teeny tiny once again and he very carefully started getting back into the eggshell she had peeled that morning. One of his kids remembered aloud that in class the teacher talked about Eskimo ice houses. Another kid said that penguins didn’t lay eggs but instead they laid ice houses that looked like eggs and everybody, even Adolfo, who was getting smaller and smaller, burst out laughing. Adolfo finished getting into the shell and he closed it up from the inside.
Eugenia put water in the pot, left it ready on the stove and put the kids to sleep. Before going to bed, she felt so happy. Her heart was already fluttering with the hugs and kisses Adolfo would give her the next morning.
Widow who Goes to Purchase a Man
Claudia has been a widow for eleven months and she has decided to make a different kind of investment with the little money left from her dead husband’s inheritance. These are difficult times. With the cost of living and weak share prices in the stock market, she’s about to lose her mind.
She goes to the hardware store. After very cordially greeting the store clerk, she tells her she wants to buy a man. One of those hanging on the second-to-last shelf on the racks on the left, near a back corner of the store.
“This one?” the clerk points and asks.
“No. Not that one,” Claudia responds.
“Ah, this one!”
“Not that one either.”
“So, this one?”
“No, it’s not that one.”
“This one?” touching a man’s foot with the tip of the pole.
“Yes, that one.”
The clerk lowers the man and lays him on the counter. While Claudia turns him over, examining him, the man tells her he is planning to take a cruise in the Caribbean, paid for with all the money paid for him. Claudia puts her hand in the air as if to say that she will pay every penny of the listed price on the tag hanging from his ankle. The man looks away for a few seconds to concentrate on his happiness, and then, as he smiles, he stretches out his arms and then plunks them straight down to his sides, readying himself to be wrapped.
Claudia looks at the man with pity and calls the clerk aside. While the man is still thrilled on the counter, waiting to be packaged and dreaming of a luxury hotel on a Caribbean island, Claudia starts haggling with the clerk.
Skin of an Ant
In ancient Greece, ambrosia, which is nine times sweeter than honey, is the food of the gods that makes them immortal. The ants storming Olympia in search of such sweet nectar become immortal, too. That’s why these hymenopterans don’t die. They just shed their skin, although they do get older.
In the Tukano culture, beer is an immortality-producing elixir. It’s made from sweet yuca. At some point, a virgin drank beer so that she could become immortal, which the gods had agreed to. So, for that to happen, they have a party out in the countryside. A turtle who sees the virgin drinking beer puts a curse on her. Immediately, the tapir skin she and her invited guests are sitting on lifts into the air. The enraged chelonian smashes the pitchers of sweet yuca beer, which spills on the ground seething with worms. The ants move in to lick the beer. That’s why these critters don’t get old. They just shed their skin.
Translated by Amy Olen
Amy Olen is Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her Ph.D. is in Spanish and Portuguese from The University of Texas at Austin. She holds Master’s Degrees in Translation Studies and Spanish and Portuguese, both from UW-Milwaukee. Her research interests include Latin American Indigenous writing and Translation Studies.
Colombian writer José Cardona-López is Regents Professor at Texas A&M International University. He has published the novel Sueños para una siesta (1986), the short novel Mercedes (2014), and the short story collections La puerta del espejo (1983), Todo es adrede (1993, 2009), Siete y tres nueve (2003), and Al otro lado del acaso (2012). The latter collection was translated to Portuguese as Dou otro lado do acaso (Lumme Editores, 2018). Todo es adrede was a finalist in the sixth international “Letras de Oro” contest of the University of Miami. His short stories and microfictions have appeared in journals and anthologies published in the United States and other Spanish-speaking countries.
In our eighteenth issue, we feature the work of beloved Cuban poet Reina María Rodríguez alongside that of João Cabral de Melo Neto, renowned Brazilian poet and third Latin American winner of the Neustadt Prize. We also highlight Latin American women poets, indigenous literature from Brazil, new works in translation, and a return to the essay through the words of Mariano Picón Salas.