Whenever I remember the moment when Raul and I met, I can't help but wonder how this athletic and handsome man could look at a witch like me. Yes, because that's what I looked like, in the dark, with the red hair dye dripping on me.
Last night, just as we were wrapping our baby after the bath, we had a short power outage. Before my husband brought a flashlight, the light came back on. Instead of getting angry, we both laughed. Not because we're crazy, we know anyone who hates being left in the dark. It's just that the darkness lit up our lives. Sounds incredible, doesn't it?
Three years ago, I was in a bad mood, life had slapped me hard on the face in a very short time. A few months ago, I had broken up with Aurelio and returned his engagement ring, because maybe he needed it to enchant one of the babes he was seeing simultaneously. My job had been restructured, and my short, medium and long-term future was shrouded in fog. And, the cherry on the top of the cake, the owner of the apartment where I lived had warned me that my rent might increase because the euro had depreciated much against purchasing power.
And so? What should I have done? To look for a job and, in the meantime, to hold on tight, with my parents' financial help and my own moral help. So, I immediately took action.
That day, my friend Leonor had adapted to the seasonal trend, dyed her hair the colour of the flame, and brought me a box of paint as a gift to cheer me up.
"Honey, you have to change your look, to be flamboyant and sparkling, so you will be admired and you will feel good in your skin. Tomorrow I come to see how you have become a seductive queen with hair like fire! Then we take care of the makeup and the clothes."
"I know, I'd better dye your hair myself, but I don't have time. And I know you're not new to this technique, do you remember when you made those blue strands? You did it very well!"
"Maybe that's why they kicked me out of the company ."
"Nonsense! When you flew from the company, you had made blonde strands! It's clear, the blonde doesn't bring you luck. But I bet."
"That tomato red is my talisman colour?"
"It's not tomato-red, stupid, it's copper-copper. Come on, get to work, don't be lazy on the couch!"
This is how, in the evening in question, I was in the bathroom, in front of the mirror, in full action of adopting a “flamboyant” look. I had put the paint on my hair and was getting ready to put on my plastic helmet and wait, according to the instructions on the box, for the red mud to do its job.
But until I saw red, I suddenly saw black: I woke up in the dark. I panicked for a few moments until I realized that the power had gone out - it was not uncommon in the neighbourhood, especially in the summer, when people used the air conditioning absolutely non-stop. The summer had just ended, and I was taken by surprise. What could I do? First, look for the kitchen flashlight. I was sure it was in a drawer in the sideboard. I got used to distinguishing the outlines around the house and I set off bravely there. I searched through all the drawers and found what I was looking for, but not before I felt a sting in the middle finger of my right hand. Who knows what I got stuck in? A knife, kitchen scissors, a screwdriver? It didn't matter anymore. I had a flashlight. But it didn't light up. the battery was dead, and my hand was getting wetter. Blood. Okay, let's forget about the flashlight and focus on another light source.
I dabbed my hand with my T-shirt and headed for the bedroom, looking for my cell phone. But before I left the kitchen, I slipped on the tiles and rushed unwittingly into the kitchen door. Oh, it hurt, but I didn't have time to moan. And I was annoyed by that idiotic blood dripping from my finger, like from a broken tap.
The phone was not on the nightstand, nor on the dressing table. I would have called to find the hiding place, but for that, I would have needed a cell phone. And those damn light bulbs never lit up again! And, goddammit, the paint! How do I wash it in the dark with my injured finger? Which had started to numb me. From one to the other, I realized where the mobile could be: in the purse hanging on the hanger, in the hallway. I crawled in there and stretched out my hands in the dark, but I couldn't find my purse. Where had I left it? the useless question, which I replaced with another, more practical, persistent one: how to make some light? in the apartment, not in my dark life.
And as I was in the hallway, and the time was pressing, for my wounded finger had begun to pulsate, and in my head, I could feel a carapace forming that was beginning to sting me, the saving but an unpleasant idea came to me, called Mrs Elvira, my next-door neighbour.
A person well past her second youth, well-groomed, a housewife (she swept every morning in front of the door, and her kitchen always gave off alluring smells) and she was a perfect gossipy person.
He had some lanterns or candles around the house, just as she didn't have a good opinion of me at all.
From the moment it reached my ears, it said “SIN” on my forehead because I sometimes got home around three in the morning (on weekends), I wore torn and indecent clothes (she had once seen me in jeans cropped at the knees and with a short top) and I had my hair dyed like a whore (well, yes, she had seen me in the time of the blue strands), I was arrogant and badly grown (I just greeted her, I didn't smile at her and I didn't ask how she was doing, like proceed a good neighbour). And the list went on, so I was horrified to turn to her. Until that stupid Raul with the flashlight comes. I think it's been half an hour since I called him.
Stay tuned for part 2!