Determination, by Quim Monzó
In the evening, the femme fatale and the irresistible man meet in a cafe with ocher walls. They look in each other’s eyes; they know this time will be the last. To each of them, it has become obvious over the past weeks just how fragile it is, that thread that has united them for three years, that made them call each other at all hours of the day, to live for one another; such passion that not even Sunday afternoons were boring. Now the thread is on the verge of breaking. The time has come to call into doubt the love they share, and therefore, to end it.
Before, they saw each other almost every day, and days when they wouldn’t see each other, they would talk on the phone, even if they were in the middle of a conference in Nova Scotia. In the past weeks they’ve barely seen each other three times, and those were not joyful encounters. Without having said it, they both know that today’s encounter is to say farewell forever. They’ve arrived at such a deep level of mutual understanding that neither needs to make it explicit that they’re bored because they realize it simultaneously. They take each other’s hand and remember (each for themselves, in silence) the fornicatory perfection they’ve attained recently: they themselves marvel at it. It’s not strange that, next to such acrobatics, the rest of their lives should seem dull. They have a coffee, say goodbye and each one goes their own way. She has a date for dinner with a man; he has a date for dinner with a woman.
After their desserts, the femme fatal takes an hour and a half to get into bed with the man she met. The irresistible man takes three to get into bed with his date. They both find themselves doing it so clumsily that they get upset. Such passivity! Such inadequacy! Such anxiety! Such impatience! They have a long way to go still, until they arrive with their new lovers at the perfection from which they parted that evening with a coffee.