Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dinner with the Senora

Thorsten Becker

The Senora cooked a delicious meal that night. The three of them sat down together at nine oclock.

The basket of fresh bread went around the table. The bread in Spain was baked just right. Lethe lingered over the crust in his mouth as if hed never tasted bread before. Steam rose from the soupy bowl of creamed broccoli. The thick potato-and-egg tortilla shimmered with blotches of oil. The Senora had left open the balcony door and cool air was coming in, mingling with the heat from the oven.

Im reading a wonderful book right now. Its called The Alchemist. The Senoras voice boomed across the table. There was a curio cabinet standing behind her that trembled and the little copper plates inside made a tinkering sound.

A young man goes to seek a buried treasure in Egypt. I would imagine hes the same age as the two of you The Senora spoke with an incredible passion, a passion that came out of nowhere. Her eyes shut tightly and creases formed across her dark forehead. Have you ever dreamed of making a quest in your life? She asked with a kind of fierce curiosity.

Lethe felt the force of her enthusiasm. And he thought he understood what she was saying. He liked the idea of a quest, it sounded like a brilliant idea, and he thought he should make one sometime soon. Este es una aventura con todos, aqui, en Espana, Lethe uttered to his own astonishment.

The Senora nodded her head in mutual understanding. Claro que si, hombre. Para tu. Si.

Pero Having gained this tiny bit of encouragement, Lethe continued to speak Spanish. La vida is pobre. Demasiado pena. Quiero vivir sin preocupacion. Mis aventuras son puertas, como puertas . . ..

Puertas de que? Donte asked suddenly.

Puertas de, no se, no se. Lo siento.

Nobody knew what he was saying anymore. He peered into his potato omelet, waiting for the moment to pass over.

After that, Lethe watched the Senora and Donte exchanging Spanish sentences effortlessly. He desperately wished he could take part in the discussion they were having. How nice it would be to communicate like that in another language! He envied Donte for his practiced speech, his eloquent manner. Donte was merely an exuberantly cheerful person, not a show-off as Lethe had imagined him. It was wrong of Lethe to judge people so quickly. He told himself he should give Donte another chance. Of course, there was a bit of envy for Dontes natural charisma, his intelligence. And Dontes hair bothered Lethe, the way it bounced, but one learned to overlook these things. He decided to give Donte another chance. Perhaps he had false judged him.

The true Spanish bible! The Senora exclaimed. They were talking about Don Quixote by Cervantes.

My favorite part, Chapter 26, Ive read it hundreds of times, when the Sorrowful Knight kills the puppets because he thinks theyre real people!

Master Peters Puppet Show. Master Peters Puppet Show . . .

Don Quixote wants to save the damsel, thats why he destroys the puppet theater. Hes gone completely mad!

Dontes jet-black hair bounced relentlessly but Lethe chose to ignore it.

Ingenio, ingenio . . . Que linda! Que linda!

I can tell you havent read it, the Senora said to Lethe conspiratorially. Here, use my copy. She shoved the big book in front of him.

Lethe pushed apart the dry, yellow pages. The little black sketches helped him recall a couple scenes from the book he hadnt read, only skimmed.

Theres a bookstore on la calle de Felipe. Go buy yourself a copy in English. Nobody can figure out exactly what the novel is about. They all say its about Don Quixotes idealism. Well, that hes crazy for seeing giants instead of windmills. But when you really get down to it Oh, just read the book Lethe, youll learn so much . . .

She brushed some crumbs into her hand and smiled at her two boarders. Now its time to go to bed.

--Scenes from the Novel of Life

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