Juanma smoked her every Tuesday at 9 pm. It was always the same: she lay on the couch in his dark living room, with her dress pulled up, and he would shove two fingers inside of her. Then, after examining her between his thumb and index finger, he would mix her with his tobacco and roll up a cigarette.
She never smoked, but didn’t mind when people smoked next to her.
They met in a bar during a language exchange night. It was Christmas and she had just arrived in Spain and didn’t speak any Spanish. Juanma was the only one who talked with her. He offered to show her around and they left together.
He took her to see some of the attractions in the Andalusian town: a cathedral, a church, a few bridges and a park. She tried to keep up with him, but he walked fast and spoke very little.
When they got to Plaza Trinidad, a wide square covered in trees, he stopped and pointed to one of the buildings. This was where he lived, she could drop by sometime. Anyway, she should walk around the plaza and not through it. There were birds shitting all over the place.
The following week, on a Tuesday, she sat on a bench in front of Juanma’s house and waited. He came home at 9 pm and when he saw her he invited her upstairs.
It was a roommate flat with no roommates. He only showed her the living room; the furniture was basic – couch, chair, table and laptop. The lights were turned off and the windows were naked.
Beyond the strong streetlights she could see the birds’ silhouettes flying hectically from one treetop to another, screaming at anyone who invaded their territory.
Juanma told her to sit and opened his laptop. He played a Spanish documentary about an actor who loved women and died because of it. At least, that’s what she assumed; there were no subtitles.
When the documentary was over, Juanma said he had to wake up early tomorrow. She could drop by again if she liked to.
A week later, after a thorough shower – during which she waxed her parts, just in case – she walked downtown again. She crossed Plaza Trinidad, forgetting about the birds that circled around, and got shat on.
Juanma spotted the stain on her dress and suggested she go to the bathroom to clean it up. Those things are really hard to wash off if you don’t attend to them immediately.
The long hallway was even darker. She had to feel the walls in order to find the bathroom door. Juanma shouted that she should hurry up, he was playing a movie and he wasn’t waiting for her.
Finally, she found the bathroom at the end of the hallway and quickly washed her dress in the sink. She couldn’t look at herself in the mirror. The light wasn’t working there, too.
When she entered the living room he had already started watching the movie.
It was an American thriller she’d seen once on a flight. It was dubbed in Spanish. Juanma was mostly quiet except for an occasional mumble – it was obvious who the killer was, what a stupid script, they could have done so many things with the movie’s budget, such a waste. She knew who the killer was, and he was wrong, but she didn’t want spoil it.
The damp felt too cold against her skin, so she pulled up her dress. Juanma rested his hand on her thigh. When the movie ended he yawned and she automatically said goodnight.
After a few weeks her Spanish got better and she found a part time job as a secretary at a real estate agency. She was alone most of the time, answering the phone and filing paperwork. She waited for Tuesdays.
Juanma hadn’t penetrated her yet, but she kept showering thoroughly and waxing her parts, just in case. She continued to cross through the Plaza and not around it, to save time. The birds always started a riot when she passed, diving at her, screaming and shitting. But she didn’t mind, it was always the same dress, which by now was stained beyond help.
One Tuesday, during a Spanish civil war drama viewed through the eyes of a farm boy, she pulled up her dress, but instead of touching her thigh, he dipped two fingers in her vagina. When he took his fingers out, they were completely wet. That’s when he started adding her flavor to his tobacco.
The next day, at the real estate agency, her boss asked her if she had a boyfriend and she said yes. He was happy for her and hoped the lucky guy was as nice and handsome as he was.
What did Juanma look like? That was a good question. Sitting in that dark living room all this time, she couldn’t really picture his face.
It was almost summer when Juanma paused an Argentinean romantic comedy, and said he was going to France to work. Doing what or how long, he didn’t tell. She could drop by next week if she liked to and that was it.
He hit the play button again, mumbling that the female protagonist was always less attractive after having sex with the male protagonist. She agreed and opened her legs a bit more, sliding towards his fingers.
On the last Tuesday before Juanma’s departure, she got delayed at the office. Everyone was going away for their long vacation and she had many contracts to file. She was about to leave when her boss walked in and asked to see an important unclosed deal. His wife and kids were waiting in the car.
It took him two minutes to come and he forgot the contract he asked for.
When she finally got to Plaza Trinidad it was 10 pm. There was a light in Juanma’s living room window.
She rang the bell, but there was no answer.
Noa Sivan, 37, was born and raised in air force bases all around Israel and is currently living in Granada, Spain. She is a graphic designer and writer. Three of her short stories were published in 2005 in an anthology edited by award winning Israeli author Yitzhak Ben Ner. In 2013 she published a digital book of microstories based on her life in Tel Aviv during the social justice protests of 2011. “Plaza Trinidad” is her first short story in English.
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(Image derived from photograph by Kurt Bauschardt)