Rogelio didn’t really know what was the matter with him or where he was being led. He had always thought that when the moment came when it wasn’t worth going on and you can’t take care of yourself that something tells you the time has come to give up resisting.
How is it I’m here? Why this cold in my stomach? He feels watched and foresees something going wrong. Tears come, but the fear is huge and his knees buckle and stop him running. Rogelio needs to shout his name to those strangers, to see if anyone recognises him, so he hugs his rucksack tightly. Now he can’t go home and he has to shut his eyes. Maybe it isn’t real, but his stomach hurts and that makes him turn back. Rogelio remembers his eloquent tricks with words as a child that worked and made him hear applause and frights. One photo, wrecked by time which goes by and does not forgive, parents unknown in the memory of so many years. They didn’t even offer him a simple caress or a blow; from then on, he keeps the wooden bench. He’s not sure if it belonged to his mother, but he was only a child and it didn’t matter at all if the others were relentless with his fearful crying. Which wasn’t fear for his dreams failing and he’d end up being punished, but rather the enormous fear of not recognising those yellowing faces mixed on the paper. Rogelio says hello to a girl staring at her hands; she says nothing. “Hi,” he says, “can you help me?” She doesn’t answer anything, just looks at the fence intruding on the road and runs off without looking back. I think she feels the same pain as he does, like one of those mornings when you can’t stand the house or the walls. It’s silly, but there’s no more time to think too much. Actually, he’d like to think of a single reason to stay there; it’s the same as that day when he wanted to play with the neighbour and there was no way. An orange to his head. He tried to pierce it with a rusty iron arrow a few metres away. The other one didn’t refuse, because he liked to touch his legs, his belly button, almost everything. He let him go with all the good will of the moment when he saw him bleeding and knew that nobody is infallible, not the Pope himself, not even the Earth. Now he only remembers the orange on the ground, the blood on his hands and the fucking curiosity of having missed. That’s where the belief ended up, and nobody was able to explain it. Rogelio wants to understand if he’s far from everything, even from the noise of the road that passes in front. Where many close their eyes when they pass or cross their fingers so as not to be caught by the Aids. “This will be your cabin,” sounds the voice, but he doesn’t understand the gasping laughter, “this will be your room-mate,” it says. And Rogelio’s paralysed at the door; the other boy helps him with his rucksack. A hand on his shoulder, silence –the same silence. It’s impossible to recognise these walls which are not like his. They don’t have the damp stains, the cobwebs on the ceiling, the books. In this city there’s only one place to save him. The balcony of his room, open to the rooftops, to the morning light where he forgets his worries. Where he had to take a lot of time to water plants. Even that plastic yellow rose given him once seemed so natural. Flowering in every season of the year. When he leaves, he’ll miss this place. Everybody goes sometime, and nobody thinks or almost thinks “nothing happens, everything is a lie, you’ll see when you open your eyes” and he opens them and finds himself lost again, with the same pain in his stomach as that night when he felt the rub of other hands on his trousers. The film became somewhat confused; he wanted to run away. It’s incredible to have somebody so close, almost on top, and not see his face. That’s why he understood the feelings of a person who loses his sight. Lights flashed shapes, his leg trembling on the floor. He felt his zipper opening slowly and found out everything was simple, almost without words. To enter other worlds with strange voices, the fear of crashing from one branch to another, of what others would definitely think of him or of that other stranger… Time goes on and on and Rogelio has to stare at the fence, to let his sight graze the tiny insects which cannot be explained. The boy sits next to him “don’t be afraid,” he says. Then Rogelio calms down and recognises his face. He lived near home; he was also taken away once, and nobody cared, not even himself. He met him at the Beaux-arts museum, surrounded by enormous galleries and hanging objects, in front of shapes extremely disfigured by the extreme poverty of the fields. He hears screams and crosses the courtyard. Naked Blacks with Mendive, wrapped in colours and whistles. It’s the new post-modern, Rogelio himself doesn’t understand; colours melt to reflect the harmony of the lines and not the opposite. He doesn’t understand, but he does identify it; that’s why he keeps in his rucksack the drawing board somebody gave him once. He never leaves it, as if it were a charm of light and shadow, the same as today, when he’s alone. It was an August morning he remembers very well. Nobody wanted to touch him, death is frightening and then Rogelio was afraid of dying like that, suddenly, from one day to the next like him. Who had no family or friends, but who really helped him a lot. Even though he burned tablecloths with his cigarettes, even though he shitted in the closet, slept on the table and took the TV at dawn for the garden and the seats, the flower pots, the heaters. Left the living room without a thing. Just the same white walls with his nursing diploma, the blurred photo of his grandmother. What can he say now about those hands which no longer grip or beg, don’t hold or hit, don’t tremble. Which are suddenly no more than that. A whole infinite landscape, looking behind the fence, useless to retain him. Months go by and he hangs nothing on the walls. “If you don’t fix it up to your taste, it’ll be worse,” they say, “it’s a sign that you haven’t adapted and you’ll never get out of here.” Then Rogelio plants some rose bushes in the garden, hangs some curtains at the aluminium windows, smiles right and left. Mornings, he translates manuscripts in English; they talk about illnesses he doesn’t know, keeps on smiling. “There’s not much to go till you’re considered reliable,” the Director’s voice, “in December they’ll allot some clinics and you’re proposed for some.” The clinic means freedom, recovering his life, already. It’s been some time since his stomach not hurt, now it’s year’s end. Even though nobody expects him beyond the fence, he goes towards it anyway. This goodbye makes him Rogelio smile sadly; whatever happens next is a mystery. He doesn’t close his eyes to shake the dust from his shoes. Rogelio walks a few steps away from the fence, and doesn’t look back.