TWO SMALL CRIMES
A short story
ALBERTO ÁLVARO RíOS
SEñORA CLOTILDE TORRES had woken, rubbed her eyes, with some di;culty gotten herself up from the bed, put her feet into her slippers, gone to the bathroom, then to
the kitchen to start the morning co=ee, no di=erent from any
other day, she said. She had opened the kitchen curtains and
looked out at the lemon tree in the yard — it was all just sticks
this time of year, no leaves, no fruit, just as if someone had
been practicing with a sword and these were all the swoosh
marks the sword made in the air, the air sliced so much and in
so many ways but all in the shape of a tree. It was a drawing of
a tree, an idea.
“I know what you mean about how trees look that way in January,” said the o;cer. “I hadn’t thought of it, but I see it. Christmas
trees have always struck me the same way. Not that I had a sword,
but that’s how I used to draw them in school so quickly with my
pencil, so quickly I used to think my pencil was like a sword. Like
Zorro and his Z, only I was making a whole Christmas tree, with
the Z getting bigger and bigger as I got to the bottom.”
“For me it was dresses and dancing,” said Doña Clotilde.
“When I was young, I used to dance back and forth so hard my
dress would snap one way and then the other, as if my very move-
ments were something of a sword, as if I myself moved through
the world in that moment like a sword. Fast. Sharp. Snapped.
Maybe it was like a sword or a whip, or both, but without my
hands. It was my hips. I loved to dance, and I loved the songs.
People used to get out of my way on the dance floor.”
“I can imagine,” said the o;cer, Sergeant Maldonado, nodding
his head up and down at the thought. He and Doña Clotilde were
drinking the co=ee she had mentioned just a little bit earlier. The
co=ee had been sitting there a while, now, he guessed, and was
slightly cold, though he didn’t say anything. He began to draw the
cup to his lips, prepared to compliment the taste regardless.