Stories of My Neighbors (III) / Ángel Santiesteban

THE GIRL WHO LIVES above my apartment is named Pilar and comes from an ancient Catholic family. She’s had a relationship with her boyfriend for three years. In these thirty-six months they’ve been excited many times. Alberto lives with his parents and grandparents. And for her, it’s the same. It has been very difficult to satisfy their erotic instincts.

In the one thousand nine-hundred and five days of their courtship, they have only shared kisses on the stairs of our building. They part all worked up, tense, red in the face.

As the hotels were being converted into housing, with the same speed as “barracks into schools,” Alberto was looking into some place to rent, but when he learned that the price was five CUC for three hours, with no rights to eat or drink, his spirits sagged. At the exchange rate that would be one hundred and twenty Cuban pesos, half his monthly salary, which is far beyond his means. By a ton.

His anticipation grew every time he imagined their honeymoon. Without wanting to, he’d managed to meet the Catholic precepts, respecting the decent family of his fiancee, and he took advantage of the agreement established when they accepted his courtship of the girl. Piously, they laid down the law: they could only marry after he graduated. Now it’s just a few months away. He would have continued to be happy if the newspaper he held in his hands didn’t exist, with the news that starting in the new year the grant of time in a hotel, to newlyweds, will be canceled.

Then he remembered having recently read, in the same paper, that the national birthrate was the lowest in fifty years. He thought that the Revolution would be left without soldiers — the men of the future who would come… later? — and the socialist project would run the risk of having no followers. So, as a Revolutionary task, just like a guerrilla based in an unknown country, or leaving with the army to fight in a distant and alien war, he went to find his girlfriend and, with no explanation, took her by the hand, boarded a bus to the beaches of the east, and there, on the fine sands, they made love.

October 1, 2010