Paintings by Luis Trápaga.
—You messed up the form—said the officer as he offered them a new sheet—. You wrote “climatic” and this is a survey of just checking the boxes, it does not admit calligraphy.
—But we are asking for asylum due to climatic reasons —replied the man.
—The choices are “economic” or “political.” Nobody asks for asylum due to climatic motives.
—We do —insisted the man—. We hate the heat of the summer.
—We do not grant asylum for hating the heat of the summer.
—It’s not a serious reason.
—And what’s a serious reason?
—The political and economic causes listed in the form.
The man scratched his head. He looked at his wife.
—But it’s a very closed-ended question, if at least there were a few lines where we could explain…
—I already told you that it’s a survey of just checking the boxes—replied the upset officer—. If you are going to mess it up again, you’d better give it back to me. We’re running low on forms.
The man and the woman looked at each other sadly.
—Listen —intervened the officer—, just check any of the two boxes and that’s it, don’t be a fool.
—You think so?
—Of course I think so —the officer put his mouth near the opening in the crystal window. He did a mysterious sign, as if asking them to get closer too, from their side, to the crystal in the cabin—. What is the real reason you’re asking for asylum?
—Because we hate the heat of the summer —insisted the man; he then took a pencil, looked at his wife—. You tell me, dear: What reasons are closer to our hatred of the heat, political or economic?
—Check political —she suggested—. It must be the government’s fault.
—It could also be due to the economy.
—Yes, it could —she agreed.
—No —the man was fed up—. The right thing to say is “climatic.”
And he wrote again: “climatic”
—Here you go.
—But…, are you stupid?! —the officer crumpled the form.
The man tried to raise his fist, but the woman stopped him in time.
—Leave it —she said—. Stuck in this cabin and with that uniform, he is probably more upset by the heat than we are.
Edited in English by Joshua Barnes
The publication of this story is part of Sampsonia Way Magazine’s “CUBAN NEWRRATIVE: e-MERGING LITERATURE FROM GENERATION ZERO” project, in collaboration with Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, and a collection of authors writing from Cuba. You can read this story in Spanish here, and other stories from the project, here.