By Zett Aguado
I cannot remember much; the table rattled, things toppled over, and I became
angry because I could not butter my toast. I did not realize the earth was
quaking, not even as my feet moved side-to-side on a wave of floor tiles.
My brother was six months old and the stroller he was sitting in rocked five
feet in front of him, ten feet back, and he thought it very amusing. He laughed
with his pudgy hands outstretched and flexing. I was in Mexico City,
Our house was in another part of town, one that was solid
because the wealthy lived there, in a place where earthquakes were sure not
to cause too much harm. Servants and gardeners, drivers, too, they trickled
out of the neighborhood houses and huddled in small groups in the middle
of the street. I finished my toast. The television was turned on. I vaguely
remember feeling afraid, only because nobody knew where, or when, an aftershock
At school, my teachers had grave looks on their faces
and students gossiped about how one teacher had suffered an accident on the
metro, the one that had been crushed by falling rubble. It turned out to
be a lie.
I smoked cigarettes in the girls' bathroom because the
earthquake was a good excuse. At lunchtime, I was lonely and hungry, and
my mouth was dry. So, I walked into the day, which was gray, and found Teodoro
near the tennis courts where the druggies, the marijuanos, sat.
We went to our place, the darkest point of the projection
room, underneath a table. I stretched on the floor and opened my legs to
accommodate him. Teodoro was thin; his body was light on mine. I longed for
weight, something heavy to hold me. My hands cradled his buttocks, pulling
him onto me, making him heavier, and we kissed. His tongue was thick and
covered with a film; it tasted of egg. His hard skinny penis pushed on my
belly or along my thigh, it couldn't decide. And we rocked on each other,
our hands in the other's long hair, our tongues dancing, our breath making
the air hot. I moaned, even though I did not like it. My back arched, higher
and higher, offering my breasts to his mouth as his hands searched underneath
my pants. They were clumsy hands, so I unzipped my jeans, disappointed. It
did not matter that it did not feel good, that it was nothing like I had
wanted it to be. I moaned anyway.
I was his sexy woman, rocking underneath his bones.
I did not like Teodoro. Instead, I had a crush on
a boy who would never notice me. Not after lunch. Not even when I pretended
to cry and act very touched by the earthquake deaths. He was one of those
people, one of those places.
With bricks all around. On solid ground. Where earthquakes
Copyright © 2002 Zett Aguado
Zett Aguado's fiction has been published in Small Spiral Notebook,
Literary Potpourri, Painted Moon Review, Vallarta Voice, In & Out Magazine
and is forthcoming in Snow Monkey. She is the 2001 National Short
Story Winner for Mad Dog Publishing. She currently resides with her
husband in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.