It is not my intention to leave an explanation of my decision on this screen. To whom should I offer it? Who should I justify myself to or, more importantly, who should I apologize to for this abrupt way of saying goodbye? I only write these lines as an ablution. As an act of inner purification if such a thing is possible, and even with the conviction that it is not necessary. Tomorrow, when the cleaning lady finds me, everything you need to know will be written on this screen.

I never thought that the hypotenuse, prime numbers, second and third-degree equations, and theories about pi and infinity would take a back seat to me. Until that distant summer, they had been the engine of my life as a student. Literature had never caught my attention, and no poem had moved me enough to dedicate my time to reading and memorizing it. I was into the sciences. Specifically, the exact sciences. Mathematics was my world, ever since I was a child, and learned to count colored pencils with which I formed all kinds of geometric shapes: squares, rectangles, diamonds, and polygons with multiple sides and a wide range of colors. From a young age, I understood that harmony was intimately linked to numbers. The letters, that go-between called Celestina, that Lazarillo, and even Alonso Quijano, were mere obstacles to overcome on a path whose direction, in my opinion, was clearly marked and pointed towards Science.

Long before that strange and torrid summer, I had been fascinated to the point of obsession by the so-called «Platonic solids.» Fire, air, water, and earth would be composed of tetrahedrons, octahedrons, icosahedrons, and hexahedrons. All of them with supposed magical properties that, at least in my mind, produced fascination and a certain spell. I never tired of transferring lines to colored cardboard that eventually formed, after meticulous and careful folding, a multitude of three-dimensional polyhedra. Bodies that, when joined with fine strings, hung from the ceiling of my room and danced in the wind that entered through the ogival window that illuminated a somewhat lonely childhood.

I must say, for your reference, that loneliness has accompanied me for most of my life. I have been an only child and a husband betrayed by a woman who crossed my path when I thought I was destined for a brilliant future.

From that childhood, I keep the indelible imprint left by the trip my parents gave me for my eighth birthday. The impressive visit to Egypt and the Great Pyramid. By then, I was already a fanatic of numbers, but the sight of such a work and the explanations our guide gave us about its construction and dimensions led me to study the civilization of the Nile Valley with an almost obsessive dedication. However, it was not its history that moved me, but rather the complexity involved in the construction of such a marvel in an era that was more than four and a half thousand years removed from us.

After the pyramids, following trips to England and France, my fascination for the constructions of Stonehenge and the Eiffel Tower followed, as well as the beautiful and symmetrical gardens of the Palace of Versailles. All these wonders left vivid memories in me, which would later be expanded with beauties like the Taj Mahal that Raquel – my wife – and I went to see on our honeymoon trip to India.

At that moment, a special interest arose in me for the relationship between numbers, geometry, and the construction of different wonders of our passage through planet Earth. It was then that I began to create a collection of models that eventually became a significant part of the decoration of the house I live in today, which, curiously enough, considering my interests at that time, is also comprised of an extensive library that covers all branches of knowledge. This statement is made with absolute modesty and no falsehood. Over time, I have become an absolute bibliophile. Not only do numbers and geometry abound among its volumes, but since that June month, History, Literature, Philosophy… found an increasingly spacious place on the shelves that housed my books.

I mentioned a strange and torrid summer. I am referring to a distant June month. Specifically, the one that would shape my academic and, above all, emotional trajectory for the rest of my still-short life. Much time has passed since that moment, over twenty years ago.

Those were the days marked on the academic calendar for the University entrance exams.

It was at the precise moment when I was about to focus my attention on re-reading the second exercise I was facing that morning when her hand described a perfect parabola from the desk to her nape, adorned with beautiful and curly black hair. A parabola that, for a brief moment, almost as brief as the interval between zero and minus one, but which ended up approaching infinity, blocked my mind, nullifying any capacity for reaction or concentration. That exam, which I had meticulously and rigorously prepared for, abruptly ended for me. The instant when the beautiful black hair moved in a perfect obtuse angle, shifting from the left shoulder to the right, creating asymmetric waves and displacing scented cubic centimeters of air, was fatal.

My watch, much to my despair, had not stopped. Nearly an hour had passed, captivated by her curls.

With a deep voice and an unappealable attitude, the examiner, who had been extremely attentive to our behavior, announced:

«The exam has concluded. Set your pens aside. Pass your papers to the center rows.»

It couldn’t be real. It couldn’t be happening to me. I wanted to plead for mercy, for a few more minutes, but I soon realized that any attempt was futile. I couldn’t fix, in just a few minutes, what was clearly a result of stress, a lack of concentration that had never failed me until that moment.

The black curls rose before my eyes, floating to my astonishment, while the large classroom gradually emptied as students filed through the hallways toward the main foyer of the faculty. It was a disaster. The exam that was supposed to grant me access to the degree I had longed for had vanished. Dissipated before my gaze, lost among the gentle curves of black hair tracing over curiously light-colored shoulders. Without time to react, that beautiful fair-skinned young woman disappeared into the crowd of students.

I spent the summer months trying to digest what had happened to me at the beginning of June. I couldn’t break free from the blockade that the image of that brunette girl had condemned me to. I could only find solace in Literature, which had been indifferent to me until then, and the conviction that I would easily overcome that obstacle that had arisen in my academic path during the September exams. In those days, I was not aware that much more than my academic record would be definitively determined, shaping the rest of my days, up until tonight as I transfer all of this into the heart of my desktop computer. Until tonight, when everything has come to an end for me.

After receiving the grades, excellent overall but with a disastrous score in Mathematics, my self-esteem and confidence plummeted.

I abruptly abandoned my passion for Mathematics, which I would have come to hate if I had insisted on studying it. It was a field in which I didn’t need to delve any deeper, as the path of numbers was well-trodden for me. I shifted my interest and turned my daily focus to Literature. Just like that, abruptly and without transition, making a radical 180-degree turn.

I immersed myself in a world of interconnected words, a form of music and meter I had never imagined before. A meter that eventually overshadowed my pursuits and concerns for numbers, leading me throughout the summer to devour book after book, chapter after chapter, exploring the great milestones of Spanish Literature. Espronceda, Quevedo, Góngora, Cervantes, and beyond the seas Borges, Uslar Pietri, Vargas Llosa, and the jungles where Aureliano Buendía and his Macondo neighbors resided became indispensable.

The university library, which until that day had been the laboratory for the elaboration and distillation of complex mathematical structures, suddenly transformed into a temple and refuge where silence was only broken by the soft whisper of turning pages and the verses of numerous poets and authors who had previously gone unnoticed by my side due to a blindness that had been inexplicable to me since that morning.

Coincidence – or perhaps more accurately, fate – led me to encounter her again right at the doors of the same library where I sought refuge when I was informed that I hadn’t achieved the necessary grades to pursue my studies at the University of Seville.

I still can’t explain where I found the strength or audacity—since I had always been considered a shy young man until that day—to approach her. Without hesitation, I blurted out:

«Hello, do you know that you’re partly the reason why I’m here today instead of enjoying a well-deserved vacation?»

Contrary to what one might expect, her face didn’t show surprise. She looked at me with smiling dark eyes, like those curls that were my downfall, and before she could say anything, I interrupted her:

«But don’t worry. From the moment I saw you at the entrance, I told myself it was worth it.»

«What makes you think I’m worried?» she replied, with the same mischievous smile in her eyes.

«Adrian,» I said, extending my hand, hoping to feel the touch of hers.

«Raquel,» she responded, leaning her cheek toward me and offering her fragrant and beautiful skin.

After kissing, I didn’t allow for any retreat and invited her to have something at the cafeteria, which wasn’t very crowded those days. She accepted my offer, and for two hours, amidst beers, we caught up on our respective aspirations without delving too deeply into our pasts. Life presented itself to us full of adventures and projects, and it was that eagerness to consume whatever the future held for us that became the subject of our conversation at that time.

She spoke of her intention to study Law and eventually apply for a position in the administration. I mentioned my passion for the Sciences and my intention to study some form of Engineering that I hadn’t quite determined yet, which eventually turned out to be Architecture as events unfolded.

Since that day, a friendly relationship blossomed between us, which never went beyond cordiality sprinkled with increasingly frequent laughter and the occasional group outing to attend concerts, including Mark Knopfler‘s at the Estadio de la Cartuja in Seville. It was there, amidst the chords of the British guitarist’s guitar, as his deep voice whispered the lyrics of «Private Investigations,» and with our few friends casting sidelong glances, that Raquel’s lips met mine, sealing a pact that would bind us in bittersweet ways for the next intense twenty years.

During our time at University, our passion overflowed. Specifically, it lasted throughout the first four years of our studies. Her final year and the three years it took me to finish mine, including the final project, marked the beginning of another era—a period of distance and intense clashes marked by alcohol, jealousy, and hatred. After those fantastic years when every private encounter was torrid, and our intimacy surpassed the boundaries of the erotic and lustful, bordering on pornography (we became fond of recording our moments of pleasure and watching them later), our relationship began to decline. Those recordings of pure sex slipped out of our control during a couple of wild nights fueled by alcohol, initiated by Raquel, who even showed them to some of our friends’ partners, leading them to stop socializing with us, a clear sign that our relationship was sliding into something unhealthy.

She never wanted to talk about having children. The mere mention of the matter would cause her to stubbornly and firmly cling to her two eternal reasons: having children—even just one—would ruin her beautiful body and her career aspirations, aspirations she eventually achieved when she passed the coveted civil service exams to become a Municipal Secretary.

I carried that decision of hers for years with resignation and a strong disappointment, as I would have liked to have a traditional home and complete it with a descendant who would continue the Clavijo lineage over time. In exchange, as «compensation» – that was the word she used – she gave me a German Shepherd puppy when I finished my degree, and we named him Brando as a small tribute to the actor we both admired.

After finishing her degree, Raquel obsessively and exclusively focused on preparing for those exams. She devoted herself to the body and soul for four long years, during which our relationship suffered the first of our strong crises.

As for me, I threw myself into the final stretch of my Architecture degree, and in this way, our lives gradually diverged until we became almost strangers, who only regained a certain semblance of normalcy after she secured the Secretary position in the province of Córdoba. Fragile normalcy proved to be short-lived, as subsequent events demonstrated.

That return to our life together was just a mere illusion. Fate had it that she would take the vacant position in the city of Montilla in Córdoba due to her predecessor’s retirement, and the distance between the capital city of Seville and this town became the perfect excuse to gradually lose contact, as she claimed she couldn’t travel there every day. She soon rented a small apartment next to one of the wineries in the city. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the vapors from that winery that led her to the situation she faces now. No, seriously, since she moved to Montilla, she was no longer the cheerful Raquel that I knew, although, as I mentioned, ever since she isolated herself to study for the exams, I could no longer trace the whereabouts of that woman with an enviable sense of humor and insatiable sexual appetite.

As I said, weariness settled between us over the years, and I don’t blame her because even though she sought that lost passion with others, I wasn’t faithful either. When we coincided in Seville, we often came home late and engaged in all kinds of workdays and conferences, using them as an excuse and cover to betray the trust we had placed in each other years ago.

Perhaps one of the most tense moments between us was when Raquel was traveling to Barcelona for supposed lectures on Local Administration. Her flight was leaving early, not later than 6 in the morning from Seville airport. After taking a taxi with the excuse of not bothering me, I realized that she had forgotten, in her haste – which was unusual for her – the laptop she usually carried for her presentations. I took my car and raced to deliver it to her before her Iberia flight departed that morning. Upon arriving at the departure terminal, I saw her from a distance, caressing the hair of a much younger man and smiling at him, with that same smile she had given me that morning in the library, unaware of my gaze. Everything around us stopped at the moment she turned her head, carefree, and saw me with the briefcase in my hand. I felt my heart pumping blood in my temples. Every sound except the pumping ceased for me. Finally, I reacted. I approached her, placed the briefcase on the ground, and looked at her with coldness, after which I gave a piercing glare to that individual who had just taken away the happiest moments of my life once and for all. I turned around and left them there, dumbfounded, while slowly, the reality around me started moving again. Over the PA system, they announced the Iberia flight to Barcelona.

For me, as I usually say to the few friends who populate my social life, excluding work colleagues, at that moment «the hunting season began.» After overcoming a severe depression that lasted several months, aided by copious amounts of gin and tonics, I unintentionally transformed into a predator eager to prey on victims on any surface. Unbeknownst to me, I was succumbing to a degenerative process in which the hunter became the prey night after night.

I became addicted to sex and alcohol. Every woman who crossed my path, usually young girls, and showed enough interest in me became the object of an elaborate courtship whose sole objective was to satisfy a physical and mental need. This mental need was never fulfilled because every time I left a bed where I had lain with someone, emptiness settled in my mind, and I couldn’t fill the voids in my hollowed soul until a new victim presented herself. These experiences couldn’t have been more frustrating, not only due to the emptiness of my attitude but also because, as a consequence of frequently abusing gin, erectile dysfunction became a daily occurrence.

At that time, I decided to abruptly break away from almost everything in an attempt to rediscover the Adrian I once was. I loaded everything I could fit into the SUV and settled Brando in a packed trunk, except for the space where the animal lay down. I had managed to save a significant amount of money because I was well-regarded in my professional sector. Brando and I headed north, and I didn’t stop driving until we reached Luarca, on the edge of the Cantabrian Sea.

There, my loyal companion and I spent over a year, trying to heal my wounds with walks along the Asturian cliffs and evenings filled with cider. The reception from the Asturian village was excellent, and I was on the verge of falling in love again with a girl with ample breasts and well-shaped legs until all my alarms went off because something called me back to the warmth of Seville, like the song of a siren. I had already come to understand the words in the Asturian dialect that woman gasped with excitement into my ear when we writhed on the mattress in my bedroom, or on the sofa or carpet where it rested. Words that I prefer not to translate here, as this farewell, as you can see, exude sordidness throughout the paragraphs.

Raquel was in difficulties, and the embers of the fire that once burned between us and ultimately consumed us held more power than the passion of the Asturian woman and the generosity of her cleavage.

María, the woman I was gradually becoming attached to, bid me farewell with undeserved kindness. She promised to wait for me in case I changed my mind and decided to settle permanently in the Principality. There was no room for that. Raquel was always a poison for which I never found an antidote. Despite our mutual betrayals, the memory of those wonderful years spent with her always prevailed in me when the entire future unfolded before us in the form of dreams.

Raquel began a process at that time that would lead her to her current wretched situation, a situation from which I have also failed to escape. I look back and can’t help but feel a twinge of envy for Queen Elizabeth II of England when she referred to 1992 as an «annus horribilis.» But let’s take it step by step. Do you remember, right? 1992 was not only the year of the Universal Exposition in our city, the Olympics in Barcelona…

It was the year in which Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, Prince Andrew, separated from his wife, the Duchess of York; her daughter, Princess Anne, divorced Captain Mark Phillips; the year in which Princess Diana first revealed the miseries of her marriage, including the affair between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles; and the year when Windsor Castle suffered considerable damage due to a fire. I wish I could trade my experiences for those of Her Gracious Majesty and let her have the memories of these recent years of my life with Raquel.

Let me explain, my wife was sentenced last January by the Supreme Court to six years of disqualification. Her offense was related to granting licenses for residential construction on land designated as rural. Naively, she cited her inexperience in the position among other excuses. Soon, her relationship with the owner of that land was proven, despite her efforts to keep it a secret. I was not affected by that since, as mentioned above, our relationship completely deteriorated, and if we hadn’t ended that farce, it was simply due to apathy.

It wasn’t just the need to face the devastating financial consequences of the sentence, but above all, the shame of being constantly pointed at by the accusing finger of the media and facing the outright rejection of a population like that of Montilla, which, at the time of the events that led to her situation, had around twenty thousand inhabitants. This ultimately caused the house of cards we had built together to collapse.

As it is known, according to Murphy’s Law, if anything can go wrong, it probably will. Thus, I also had my own moments of glory. On one hand, I witnessed the suspension of a highly important project due to the discovery of archaeological remains in the Aljarafe area, specifically in Valencina de la Concepción. Tartessians and Romans came to life beneath this town’s surface, conspiring against me as the construction of numerous homes and a significant amount of money in my bank account were put at risk. On the other hand, and perhaps the worst blow to my growing reputation, a miscalculation in the strength of some materials led to the collapse of the roof structure of an industrial warehouse in the town of Espartinas, also in the Aljarafe region.

As for Brando, I must say that hip dysplasia eventually got the best of him, and I had to put him down on an evening when Raquel wasn’t answering my calls. I had to wait tremendously alone for the cremation of that noble animal at a veterinary center on the outskirts of the capital. My toast always fell butter side down.

Everything seemed destined to collapse around us like sandcastles in front of the sea. The impact of hasty and somewhat careless decisions was eroding our life together. What a paradox! I, who had a passion for calculation and control of factors, found myself overwhelmed by a reality that, I know now, proved ungovernable. I had not accounted for the chance.

With the distance that years provide, I can’t help but wonder what went wrong in the relationship of two people who had almost everything to successfully navigate the journey that life subjected them to. A still brief life but one that now seems condemned to the most resounding of failures. Unfortunately, even more so, I must say that I have not been able to overcome my addiction to alcohol. I tried with a therapist, but it was in vain.

In the later years of our relationship, I resumed my passion for mathematics, abandoning the reading of anything unrelated to it in a desperate attempt to return to that time when the desire for adventure and the eagerness to conquer the world was my leitmotif. I didn’t want to admit that I was closer to becoming a middle-aged has-been than the young man who aspired to be an engineer and live a life of absurd luxury. The past is behind me, and it’s impossible to chase after it. Absurd, I would say.

It was while rummaging through my books on the subject that I came across a quote that now fits perfectly, irony aside. The brilliant 18th-century mathematician Lagrange wrote to his fellow mathematician D’Alembert about his marriage: «I don’t know if I have calculated well or poorly, or rather, I believe I haven’t calculated anything, for I would have done like Leibniz, who, after much reflection, could never decide. However, I must confess to you that I have never had a taste for marriage, and I would have never committed myself if circumstances hadn’t forced me to.»

I immersed myself in everything related to infinity. Perhaps in a desperate and unconscious attempt to prevent our relationship from ending, to prolong it in time like parallel lines that would exist side by side forever. Condemned, though, to never meet.

Raquel left a few days ago, heading towards some kind of self-imposed exile. Obviously, she left Montilla months ago. The pressure in the streets was stronger than her will to cling to her life there.

In a sort of swan song, our relationship was reignited for a few weeks before finally extinguishing like a fire abruptly deprived of oxygen. It was a flame that burned out shortly after igniting.

The sound of the door closing echoed in my soul like a lethal gunshot. After the deeply black trail left by her curly mane cascading over her soft shoulders, I saw the verses of Don Pablo drawn in the cold of the night.

Neruda‘s theorem remained formulated in the emptiness of our house, now only occupied by dusty models and books that speak of Algebra, Geometry, Philosophy, History, and Literature. Of love, hate, and forgetfulness. Ironically, it was the twentieth poem from his Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair that lingered in the air after her departure. Twenty were the years that our journey together, more or less, lasted, and twenty were the years we had when passion overflowed at every touch of our skin.

I can write the saddest verses tonight…

Because on nights like this, I had her in my arms,

my soul is not satisfied with having lost her.

Even if this is the last pain she causes me,

and these are the last verses I write for her.

While the cursor blinks on the computer screen, on the nightstand, two boxes of sleeping pills prescribed by my psychiatrist await me for occasions when I can’t fall asleep.

A bottle of Hendrick’s accompanies them, along with enough ice and tonic water.

The decision has already been made.

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Por José Manuel Lasanta Besada

Licenciado en Ciencias de la Información, Periodismo, que se creyó Don Quijote, chocó con los molinos a las primeras de cambio, se levantó, y aquí sigue.

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