The Belated Choice

By:  Eduardo Liendo
Illustrated by: Henry González
Selection and Compilation: Carolina Fonseca


When he hit twenty, he chose to rebel against the calamity of fate. He understood that chance was a curse, the denial of all real freedom. He had thought long and hard on a harrowing reflection by Seneca: “Chance must necessarily have great influence over our lives, because we live by chance.” Someone —he thought self-importantly— should face down chaos. I mustn’t give in to caprice; no force beyond my control will govern my destiny.

He retreated to his room and spent days and nights in intense creation as he composed the future Diary of his life; he left no space for chance on the pages, filling in the hours and the minutes of the hours and the seconds of the minutes and the fractions of the seconds. He painstakingly selected his habits, expectations, shocks, satisfactions, nostalgias, dreams, sexual encounters, surprises, movements, trips, accidents, nightmares, enemies, and visions; he didn’t forget anything, not even his favorite dessert. He only hesitated in regard to his death. No ending seemed right for a free man, for someone who resolutely dared to defy any interference from chance. So he left the last page of the Diary blank until he could find the perfect choice.

He conquered chaos methodically and inexorably; his life passed just as he had determined it would. No man, however high his rank or how great his accomplishments, was more in control. Only he had defeated the capricious gods, their selfishness, their cyclical moods, their unbearable meddling.

He was completely free to choose his death; he could plunge into an eternal meditation on ceasing to be: being another, not being anymore. He reviewed all the possible ways of leaving life, good and bad deaths, sweet, neutral, and unbearable deaths.

Making his belated choice, he opened the Diary and wrote on the empty page: “I’m dying of boredom.” The chair embraced a cadaver lost in thought.

The Red Crocodile. Publicaciones Seleven, Caracas, 1987.