nadia is drinking a beer and scribbling in her notebook while waiting for daniel. she’s trying to write a letter for someone back at home but is failing to focus. all she can think about is the moment he will come through the door and smile at her. she looks at the door and she feels her heart pounding when it opens. she opens up her lips a little in antecipation, and a strange man comes in. he looks at her face, probably a bit intrigued with her expression. maybe just admiring her beauty. most of the times she feels beautiful, at least after covering her zit scars and dark circles under her eyes with some makeup. she doesn’t feel so beautiful when she’s with daniel, though. she dated a lot of sexy and beautiful guys, but he is too conventionally attractive and when she’s next to him she always feels like she’s competing with every other woman in the world. she doesn’t like that feeling.
she looks at her mobile. no texts. checks her emails, nothing new except newsletters from art openings and live music shows in her hometown, venues she won’t be attending. she looks at the tv and tries to focus on the news, but the sound is mute. she tries to focus on the face of the newsanchor, something familiar, but the screen is too far away. she wishes she could hear the newsanchor’s voice. she hears it in her head, she’s been hearing it since forever. there’s something tranquilising about his voice, a fatherly quality about it.
she sips her beer, the brand is the first one she ever tasted and still her favourite. she looks at her notebook again. she turns the page and starts to write something new, something like a poem. she’s not sure which language she wants to write in. she’s been trying to write more in her second language in order to improve it, but she’s tired of talking in it all day. that’s why she chose to come to this restaurant, so she could hear a bit of her language and imagine she was at home. but nobody’s there except for the owner, and even his accent his too foreign to make her feel what she needs to feel. he comes from an island too far away from her hometown, it’s almost like he’s from another country. people from that island don’t use the name of the country when identifying themselves, they use the name of the island. she looks at the pictures on the wall and they’re all from that island, not a single one from the continent.
she looks at the tv screen and sees a famous politician giving a speech. there’s a citation underneath his name. she can’t hear what he’s saying but she knows what it’s about and feels depressed. she was depressed in her hometown because of what was happening there, but being far away only makes it worst. she sees images of people protesting on the streets. at the time she left, she felt like leaving was a form of protest, but now she would give anything to be in the middle of that crowd for some minutes.
she remembers the day she left her country, drunk and sreaming. how all of her luggage was falling apart when she arrived and she couldn’t carry it across the city. she recalls the relief she felt when she saw that restaurant with her country’s flag on the door, in the road she was going to live, and drank her usual coffee, her country’s coffee. she recalls she almost cried while drinking it.
she’s getting tired of waiting for daniel and promises herself she will leave the restaurant if the beer finishes before he shows up.she thinks it’s a stupid thing to think because he knows where she lives and he would just show up there anyway. she drinks more beer, it’s reaching the end. in their home country’s fashion, they didn’t really had set a specific time for meeting. when he called, he said he would eat some pasta at home and would meet her afterwards for a beer, and she calculated his tube ride would take about an hour. she was drinking a pint with friends in a pub when when they talked, she was planning to get a burguer with them afterwards, and the tube ride would take her about 45 minutes. we wil probably be in sync, she thought. she was wrong, and she was tired of always showing up before him. she thought that was a really bad sign, like her urge to see him was not proportional to his urge to see her.
she was used to be in that position with someone else but she doesn’t want that anymore. she thinks that if she had changed countries, she might change other habits as well. that thought is becoming recurrent. she experiences it everyday, like when she goes to bed much earlier than she used to, or when she decides to stay home on a friday night or when she tries to smoke just 10 cigarettes a day instead of her usual 20. she looks at her mobile again and starts to hate daniel. he finally calls.
”i’m getting out of the tube. where are you?”
“at the restaurant. waiting.”