She walks slowly towards the exit of the neighborhood. The sun burns. Her skin suffers from the accumulation of lesions. In the mornings she looks in the mirror and discovers a new spot, small wrinkles on her temple, or a sprout of gray hairs, noting that the years, the house, the kids, the tension, the solitude, are leaving a bill impossible to pay. But it’s not the loss of her beauty that worries her most, but rather the physical exhaustion. In the afternoons, when she gets back from work, the stairs seem to reach to the sky; at night she falls asleep in front of the TV, sometimes before the soap opera starts. She remembers how, years ago, she laughed at her mother when she did the same. Her mother nodding off, snoring, waking up surprised, denying she’d been sleeping and excusing herself saying, “I was resting my eyes, sweetheart.” History repeats itself, she whispers sadly.
She walks slowly and the sun burns. She consoles herself thinking that this is the month. With the little bit she’s saved and if her ex isn’t late again with the child support, this month she can stretch the money she sets aside for changing into convertible pesos to buy soap and cooking oil, and buy herself a parasol. She’s been determined to buy it since the end of the brief winter, despite the fact that her friends tell her a parasol makes you look much older. But she believes that what makes her look older is trying to stretch the money to eat and bathe decently every month. And the sun that burns so much.
She walks to the exit of the neighborhood. It’s a long stretch without shade and the sun burns. The buildings don’t have entryways, they’re separated from each other and from the sidewalks. Aligned at different angles with respect to the streets, they seem like the walls of a huge labyrinth. A labyrinth in full sun. The scarce trees have no foliage to protect passers-by. Many show deformations from bad pruning in advance of some cyclone. With humps and stumps, like the veterans of uncountable wars, these poor trees remind one of the elderly, wrinkled and gnarled, who take the sun in the parks. Eroded by time and trapped in time, neither the trees nor the elderly know with certainly if they’ll survive to see the next cyclone. For now, they hope. The sun burns, and she walks slowly.