A Message for Grethel / Ahmel Echevarria Pere, From Sampsonia Way Magazine

Artwork by Luis Trápaga
Artwork by Luis Trápaga

Translated by Zach Tackett

We met at the Cinematheque. We had taken the same bus and watched the city though the small window without trying to talk. In truth, I watched her when she wasn’t looking. At the theatre I noticed her in line behind me. There was a smile, and another ten minutes of waiting to buy a ticket. I realized when it came time to pay that I only had four coins worth 20 cents and a peso in my pockets. I had forgotten my wallet at home.

I looked through my pockets again: Keys, a peso, coins, and the bus fare bulletin. Nothing else. The ticket clerk was impatient with my delay. As the line grew longer he got angry.

I cursed.

—Two, please —she said to the ticket clerk and looked back at me. –Today is my turn to pay. Did you forget?

She gave me a wink. I wanted to go along with her game, but I couldn’t find the words.

She smiled.

I thanked her.

The employee muttered again.

We walked into the movie.

From my seat, I saw her choose her own seat a few rows away. She put on her headphones. She was listening to her Walkman until the lights went down. No one sat next to her.

I left for the lobby before the final credits, feeling ridiculous. The entire way to our seats and I had only said a stupid “thank you.” I needed to see her, apologize, make up some story in the hope that I could appear less stupid to her. I was so worried I could barely pay attention to the movie.

I didn’t have time to invent some excuse. She came out to the lobby right away. I walked toward her. –Excuse me, I don’t even know your name, and I’m in debt to you.

I suggested we met up some other time. She smiled. She said that it’d be pointless to meet up again if I forgot my wallet.

—Putting it in my pocket wouldn’t help me much. Do you have a pen?

Then I wrote my number on the back of the bulletin that I always carried in my pocket.

She looked into her purse, ripped a page from her agenda, and wrote something.

—When you call, say that it’s for me and leave a message. I don’t like to bother my neighbor.


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.