Love, in Spanish(4)

By: Karina Halle

“Sorry,” she mumbled in her wonderful smokyvoice, still not turning around.

I licked my lips and breathed in deeply before Isaid, “I am sorry too.”

Her body stiffened. She slowly turned her head, andmy smile grew soft at the sight of her reddened eyes andthe tracks of tears beneath them. She looked impossiblystunned, like she’d seen a ghost. Only I was noapparition; I was real.

Instead of giving her the letter, I opened up and laidit all out there for her to see, no stone unturned. Thething I was most afraid of was having my heart, my loverejected, for her to turn her back. It was her right to doso, and yet I wished for nothing more than anotherchance.

But Vera, such a generous, willing soul, didn’treject me. She gave me love in return, love that she saidhad never left her.

We landed in Vancouver to see her mother andbrother, Josh, at the airport. Naturally they weresurprised to see me, and I was surprised to see them—atleast her mother. She had sounded so harsh and coldover the phone, yet there she was, waiting for herdaughter to return, shocked that the adulterer was by herside. If looks could kill, I would have turned to ash rightthere on the airport floor.

It wasn’t an easy couple of days. I was glad I hadpacked that letter in my carry-on, because it remindedme to hold on. Her mother and sister and future brother-in-law from England all seemed to despise me,especially when they realized that we were heading rightback to Madrid. At one point, the English asshole pulledme aside and asked me why I couldn’t go back to mywife and leave a young girl like Vera alone.

I nearly punched him in the face, but I knew thatwouldn’t help our case. Vera and I were used to beingsneered at by this point, and though she said she didn’tcare what her family thought, I could still see it in theway she carried herself that she did. Even though it hadwaned since I met her, the need for her family’s approvalwas still there.

Thank god for Josh, who was the only smart, kind,and decent one in her family. With his black edgy hairand tattoos, he was definitely one of those people youwanted to judge before you knew them, but he wasVera’s biggest supporter and the saving grace for ourbrief stay.

That wasn’t the last time we’d see them, though.Just after Christmas we went back, but this time we hadreinforcements—our friends Claudia and Ricardo. Wewent primarily so that Vera could send in her workpermit application that Las Palabras had arranged, butthe ski trip to Whistler with everyone, including Josh,didn’t hurt. A week blasting down the slopes andrelaxing with friends and family seemed to be just the thing we needed.

When we left it was still a bit up in the air whetherVera would return to Vancouver for her sister’s weddingin July or not. I told her I would go with her if she did, ifshe wanted me to, and I’d support her if she didn’t. Inthe end, she opted to stay in Spain, and I think she pissedoff her family once again. It was also up in the airwhether Vera would actually get a work permit throughLas Palabras. But there were other routes she could takein order to stay and work in the country, and in the endthe Spanish government granted her six months at LasPalabras and to reapply again when the time was up.Either way, she wouldn’t have to leave Spain if shedidn’t want to.

And yet, as she lies beside me, sleeping silently inthe night’s hazy wash of indigo, I have this unsettledfeeling deep in my chest. It’s what has kept me up allmonth, more so than the stifling August heat. It’s thisfeeling that everything is about to change for us.

It’s partly my fault, although the change is for whatI hope is the better. Over the last six months, we’vesettled into a steady and comfortable routine. Vera worksat Las Palabras from 9 a.m. till 2 p.m. most days of theweek, and though it’s just an office job, she seems toenjoy it. She takes Spanish classes on Tuesday nights.She has her friends, Claudia and Ricardo, plus a fewothers from the program, and her new job. Chloe Annlives with Isabel but I get her Wednesdays and eitherSaturday or Sunday. Isabel is cold but courteous to me,and she’s only had to interact with Vera once or twice.It’s awkward for everyone—it always is—but it worksfor now.

But for me, things have become a little too stagnant.Falling in love with Vera and escaping an unhappymarriage has opened my mind, my soul, up to myriad ofpossibilities. The restaurant business wasn’t for meanymore, and it isn’t where my passion lies, so I sold itto my partner. What I really want is to feel thatexcitement again, the one I had when I was younger andbelieved I could do anything. I want something else inmy life to fulfill me the way the love of Vera and ChloeAnn does.

I really didn’t think it was possible, but after thepaparazzi got a whiff of my divorce and Vera and Istarted showing up unceremoniously in the tabloids, myface got back out there. From one ugly thing a promisingstart was born.

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