A little after three p.m. on 13 March, 2006, my wife said: “Sit down.” She didn’t look me in the eye and, as if she’d been rehearsing this move, made it fairly plain that we should separate, that she no longer loved me, and that I should look for a flat as soon as possible. Perhaps because I’d smelled this coming, I didn’t try to fight back.
It took me only a few days to find a flat, and, for some reason or other, I asked my wife if she wanted to come to look at it with me. The concierge who showed us round asked if it was for us both and I said it was just for me. My wife gave me a look that no longer decanted desperation or weariness.
I reached an agreement with the agent and immediately hired a building-worker, electrician, and painter. While the flat was being modernized, I slept on the same sofa where she had said she didn’t love me. They were strange times. We tried to be considerate to each other but not overly affectionate.
One day she suggested we eat out and I agreed. She asked me when I expected to move into the new flat. I replied very soon and suggested she pay a visit. We went. She praised the color of the paint I’d chosen for the walls and the pictures I’d hung, and, though she never said as much, I got the impression she was pleased it wasn’t a double bed in the bedroom.
When the moment came to say good-bye, she pinched her lip between her teeth and nervously smoothed her blouse. I remember we heard people singing Happy Birthday and clapping in the flat next door. We didn’t hug or even kiss each other. I gave her our keys back and told her to give me a call if she ever needed anything.
Two weeks went by. I was trying to adapt to my new life. Friends invited me to go out at the weekends, on nighttime razzles and trips to the movies. I always said no on the excuse that I had lots of work to do and didn’t budge from my new sofa that was smaller and more brightly colored than hers. I rarely watched television. I read the newspapers, shaved painstakingly, and listened to the radio.
I bumped into her and a friend of hers one day in the supermarket. “We were just talking about you,” she said. She seemed happier. Something or other I said made her laugh. We agreed to call each other, though nothing binding. For a few days I did think she might call, but I tried not to build up any hopes.
I’ve never heard back from her and I feel I shouldn’t ring, because she might think I’m putting the pressure on. Sometimes, I’m persuaded into going out and I speak to people I don’t know and the warmth of feeling is extraordinary, as if I were the survivor of a nasty shipwreck.
I bought myself a shirt a week ago, and when I was trying it on at home, a button fell off. “That’s an omen,” I thought. I don’t shave. I don’t pick up the phone. From the way it rings, I think it must be her. But what would I feel if I picked up the receiver and it was someone else? I once heard it said on the radio that if you eat a lemon without pulling a face, your dreams will all come true, but I’m afraid if I try, I’ll pull a face and none of my dreams will ever come true.
Read Sergi Pàmies’s Other Life.