Two years

 

He drank brandy and watched the vultures that flew, as they did every day, around the Plaza of the Revolution.   It was a Tuesday, the first of August 2006, when he found himself looking over the balcony for the changes that would come. The night before they had read the proclamation on television in which the Maximum Leader temporarily delegated his powers.  He met his friends and they spent the early morning hours talking of the future, while the streets remained strangely empty.

During the first weeks after the announcement he paid close attention to the news and bought some canned food so he wouldn’t have to go out.  He dusted off his Chinese radio which, though only from one corner of the bathroom, was able to pick up shortwave broadcasts.  In the meantime, he avoided changing the Euros that his mother had sent him and stocked up on candles and batteries.

After six months, he had already stopped looking out the window, reading between the lines of the newspaper, and tape recording everything that seemed to be a testament to the final days.  He met again with his friends but this time they talked about the 1980s, scholarships, and the Special Period.*

Two years later, on July 31st, sitting with his back to the city, he received a postcard from his ex-girlfriend in Jerusalem  It had been some weeks since he’d watched the news or tuned into the illegal radio stations.   Late one night he told us his mother had asked him to come to Italy to live with her.  He had told her yes, since not a single whiff of transformations could be smelled from his terrace.  

Translator’s note:

Special Period: A period of severe economic hardship in the 1990s after the Soviet Union collapsed and no longer supported Cuba. 

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