By: Adriana Hidalgo Florez
Illustrated by Henry González
Selection and Compilation: Carolina Fonseca
“Today I know, like the Moon,
How to move freely,
Between darkness and night,
Although the days seem to devour me.”
It’s a coven. Or at least it looks that way. They’re all there: Sonia, Floria, Maritza, Laura, Raquel, Soledad, Delfina. None of them ever made it to university. They all seem free, their gestures and the undulations of their wandering torsos confirm it. And every one of them is drunk. I’ve never seen them like this before, only occasionally sipping the fruity essence of wine. They seem to be celebrating some rite and have involved the Moon, inventing the ritual, of course, as they know nothing of esoteric matters. Each has flowers in her hair, worn like crowns. They wear long skirts and floral print or solid color spaghetti strap blouses. They dance and laugh loudly and their thunderous uproar echoes across the surrounding plateaus, which, I swear, are about to crumble, so loud are these women. The power in the rocks can do nothing to placate them. They are loaded with age-old stories of misfortune and silence and now their voices, their songs, and their laughter shatters the matter around them into a thousand stars. They do not speak, they vociferate. In each of their homes, everything stands ready: dinner waits to be served; pets, waiting for the hand that serves and has yet to arrive, become restless and turn in anxious circles; sons and daughters are weighed down by this surprise and go out looking for them, because the women stuck no messages to the refrigerator, no transportation was requested, nothing was said. They’re not here. That’s all. Not a one is at home, which at least seems to indicate that they are together. All the better, as this way nothing will happen to them. This reassures the seekers, who are frustrated to find them outside the perimeter that, for years, for centuries, forever, and in agony, has held them in, and inside of which they lifted their bridal veils only to take root in the shade. Not to enjoy untamed sex or guzzle the pleasure of a body. Nor to expose their nipples to the sun, feel them alive, and discover that, in addition to being a milky life-giving mantle, they are a source of burning honey.
And as for their beds…the sea finally snatched them away from desire and ever since, they have remained spasms of salt. Oh, the grace of a white sheet spotted with eroticism that never sheltered them! Oh, the torrents of semen dissipated in haste! Are they, perhaps, complaining to the Moon? What is the language they coin amidst these tongues and words tangled in alcohol? Their husbands have died, a gap between each of them, and with every farewell an inert, guilty, irreverent laugh appeared in the fleeting tears that fell to the floor. Soledad’s laughter joined Laura’s and grew until it burst into a sweet, hearty peel. And then they were free.
What are they confabulating at this candid, floral moment? Their voices sing to me, unbeknownst to them. I watch them from afar. As I turned down a cobbled street disguised as deep night, I saw fire: they had lit a bonfire, perhaps in an abandoned oil drum. It was there that I saw flames connect with the hilarity of their discourse. I approached as best I could with the car headlights off, lest I should be spotted and ruin the brushless watercolor that blossomed before me. Yes! There they are! The lost women, of whom everything and nothing is known at this moment. I alone see them and enjoy the show in silence. They look proud, glorious, anointed with burning specters. They care for no one, neither serve nor cook, and are not accountable to anyone. They simply laugh and drink, contorting, bending around the world with every twist. They feast on the entrails of life, but only after washing them in wine. My dilated eyes marvel. I long to be there, with them, sending prayers aloft to the restless moon. But I can’t. I mustn’t. This is a coven, and the invitation went out to specific, thirsty names. They glorify life with every glass. I toast them with the warmth of my breath and decide to leave, absolutely certain that I will inform my neighbors that there is no sign of their mothers, not a trace. Not even a glimpse of an outburst disguised as a coven anywhere on this long night.
Adriana Hidalgo Flores, born in San José (Costa Rica) in 1968, is an independent lawyer and consultant in the field of human rights and socio-labor policies. She speaks English, French, Spanish, and Italian and was part of poet Laureano Albán’s Literary Workshop from 1992 to 1997. Then, from 1997 to 2004, she banded with several poets and storytellers to form the Voz Abierta Literary Group and, later, the Poiesis Literary Group.
Hidalgo’s short stories have been published in Antología del Círculo de Escritores Costarricenses: Latido generacional 1990-2000 (Anthology of the Costa Rican Writers’ Circle: Generation Beat: 1990-2000) (Editorial Guayacán, 2001) and in the anthology, Teman a los vivos (Fear the Living) (Editorial Clubdelibros, 2017). Her book, La mujer oscura del balcón (The Dark Woman on the Balcony) (Editorial Uruk), was published in 2005.