Buenos Aires whispered

She drifts in and out of my vision and my life. I see her murkily, as if she were beneath the brown Rio de la Plata water. She swims languidly and shows no need of surfacing for air. When she opens her mouth to speak, it is muffled and I only see it opening and closing in an endless pantomime of conversation.

Her long dancer’s limbs float around her like streamers, undulating in the current. I ask her to wait while I go to the surface and gasp for air, but when I return she has turned away. She is facing out to the sea, but her mouth is still opening and closing — though to what end I cannot say. I swim up closer and lay my ear against her cheek and I realize she is telling me her story.

“Buenos Aires was whispering to me, so I followed. I turned at the first street, but there were only crumbling buildings down that way so I continued on. The next street was filled with stalls full of merchandise, but there was no one there: no vendors, nobody perusing the goods. On the third street there was a heavy, dark moss growing on all the buildings and the street was slick as if drizzle had fallen on years of accumulated grime. It was here, I knew, that I must turn.

“I walked down this street for several days. Sometimes I would hear sighs of pleasure but they would always end as terrible cries of agony. At times the furry moss that grew on the walls of the buildings would grow so thick that the two sides would meet and I would have to pull at the matted strands to get through.

“I stopped before one house where there was a spigot and I knelt down to drink. The water that poured out was brown and malodorous but I was so thirsty that I gulped it in spite of my disgust. My exhaustion was catching up with me and I decided to rest a few minutes but I quickly lost consciousness. I would have slept there for a long time, but I was woken by the screams of a man who shouted, “But I love you. I love you.” It came from inside one of the nearby houses, but I couldn’t tell which because the windows of all of them glowed with the same eerie red light used in brothels around the world.”

I waited for more but though her mouth opened and closed, I did not hear another word.

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