Immolation

Husband and wife contemplate the silhouette of the tower. The woman feels particularly affectionate, and she hugs her husband.

"I really wanted to make this trip."

They kiss. The husband caresses his wife's hair. They look at the tower again.

"What time do we have to be in Florence?" the woman asks.

"In the evening. Are you hungry? Should we get the car and go have lunch someplace close by?"

"Yes, but let's go to the top of the tower first."

"The tower? No way."

"What do you mean, no way? Don't tell me we've come all the way to Pisa and we're leaving without going to the top of the tower."

"That's right. I'm not going up there."

"Why not?"

"It's not safe. It wouldn't be the slightest bit amusing to see it fall just as we were going up on our tour."

"How is it going to fall? It's stood this way for centuries. You can't possibly think that it's finally going to topple just as you and I are going up?"

"It's been leaning for centuries. But it's not true that it's been leaning this far for centuries. It gets worse and worse. And some day it has to come down. Everyone will say, 'Well, today was the day, who would have thought it?' But I don't want to be inside the day it happens."

"Can't you see it's been closed up for years, until they were certain that nothing was wrong, until a committee of geologists, architects, and who knows who else decided that there was no danger?"

"The fact that it was closed for years is proof precisely that it is dangerous. Once it falls, it won't be dangerous any more. No one will be able to climb up again. The problem exists as long as it keeps standing. Besides, the only thing they've done is gird the tower with steel rings, anchor it to a cement platform, and give it a lead counterweight. And the fact that only a certain, limited number of persons can go up each time confirms the fact that the problem is not resolved."

"No. What it confirms is that they have taken the proper security measures. Now nothing can happen."

"On the contrary. Now more things can happen than before. Before, in the course of time, the tower had stabilized. Now, with all these steel rings and band-aids they've taken away even that relative stability. Now is precisely when it's most likely to fall. It could happen anytime."

"You amaze me. You really don't want to go up? We're here in Pisa and you won't go up with me?"

"It's an unnecessary risk."

"Everything is an unnecessary risk. Flying in airplanes. Riding in cars. Smoking. Even staying home. Your downstairs neighbor doesn't turn off the gas properly, someone lights a match, and the whole building blows up."

"You won't give up."

"I'm going up. If you like, you can wait here for me."

A tremendous wind is blowing. The scarf the woman is wearing around her neck blows into her face. She pulls it away with one hand; she looks at her husband with an offended grimace. Her husband understands that refusing her would be the first crack in the wall that unites them, a wall that they have been constructing year by year. Because he would do anything to keep that wall from cracking, he agrees.

"Okay, let's go," he says.

The woman smiles, he puts his arm around her waist, they head toward the tower, start climbing, and she doesn't even have time to take cognizance of this proof of his love.  

From El perquè tot plegat. Copyright 2007 Quim Monzó. Copyright 2007 Quadrems Crema SAU. By arrangement with the publisher.  Translation copyright 2010 by Mary Ann Newman. All rights reserved.