kill him. Killing the tiger. That was the only solution. Kill him somehow.
He looked up and found the same thing he always found; that was not the sea, it could not be, it had ceased to be the sea. He did not know when, or it was still the sea, and, in some way, it did not matter anymore. Days ago, it had been a dock, a coast, hardly any lights, and in the end only an immense celestial carpet that breathed and had no end. If that couldn't be the sea, it had to be the ocean. And that meant he had lost the shoreline, the way back, the trail that would take him back home. After all, after three weeks of sailing, it was no longer difficult for him to keep his eyes on the horizon, and what he called home was so far away that it had already become somewhat non-existent. It wasn't the sea, it wasn't the ocean, and three weeks could be longer. He brushed his hair out of his face and thought how serious or how wonderful it could be to lose an entire week of his life. Choose a week and lose it. Do not forget it, nor live it without remembering. Lose it. With everything that lives in it. The river, the sea: the ocean. He did not keep count of the days he had spent on that sailboat, although he had kept a report of the days but had stopped counting at the same time that the sea would have transformed into that immense celestial nothingness. All the same. All days the same. It went up and down with the waves as part of the landscape. So that must be the ocean: the horizon: it rose and fell. And now the only thing that could drive him crazy was the lack of that swing. He pulled his hair out of his eyes again with a mechanical gesture that he had inadvertently incorporated, because the wind never stopped blowing. It blew and blew. Wind. And the horizon never stood still, and he had begun to think that perhaps the only thing that was not moving, that remained motionless, truly motionless, was his sailboat. He and his sailboat. He looked at the hoisted sails and checked with his eyes that the ropes were still firm. It should not be long before seven in the afternoon, he knew it because the sun was setting on his left. He was sailing west. Northwest, actually. He did not know because he had checked the course hours ago and since then the wind could have made him turn to any point. But it hadn't been that long, he hadn't completely lost his way, just a degree to the right. He didn't care too much, either. There was no right, no left, no north, no south. In that trance that anyone enters without hesitation after being alone for so many days, one day after the other, a sun that appears, disappears and reappears, forming part of the same trance, a music of silence through days of dreams, model sky and sun, stars and moon on the surface of the waves, he tried to imagine it, but could not, had not found the way to do it, so many days and without knowing how it would go to kill the tiger. He liked to think about it, to be suspended in a thought that spun the journey, the continuity of the days. Night and sun. Waves and stars. He didn't have much more to do anyway. To think of that was in a way to think about her. He imagined the tiger, calm, sure of himself, and o a few steps behind: thus he lost track of time again, his mind merged into an image, he stopped seeing the horizon, clenched his fist tightly, hid his gaze, and this siberian tiger, calmed and sure about itself, appeared lying on the grass. Then, she appeared too, on her green dress; and a few steps behind, the tiger's eyes. With fury and sadness. So. It was enough not to want to think about it, to think about nothing. Suddenly and without truce.
He entered his apartment, closed the door with an automatic gesture, left the car keys, his wallet and sunglasses on the table in the living room where he always left them. Sometime later, that is to say, already on the sailboat, he would have to confess that this had not been a presentiment. He took a few steps through the living room but could not find the coat that she usually left on the back of the chair, nor her wallet: he took it as a sign, but made every effort to ignore it. Suddenly he wanted to know what it was that she always had in her wallet, but he was doing nothing but distracting himself, trying to delay the news. In the silence of that afternoon, on the heights of that building floor, he looked through the kitchen door but did not enter, he arrived at the living room that they had decorated together, distinguished in the distance and through the large window the familiar silhouette from the other building towers and approached the master bedroom. He stood for a few seconds on the lintel of the door. Nor was it necessary to enter, go to the dressing room and check that her clothes would no longer be there. Her clothes. He instinctively searched his eyes on the bed; I was hoping to find an envelope. Inside the envelope a letter. But in bed only the six pillows he neatly dropped on the floor every night, before going to bed. That afternoon he had looked up from his desk, still in his office, as if a call was reaching him from far away, like a deep sound that only he could hear, more than a sound, a vibration on the ground, in the concrete skeleton of the building where he had installed his office, something deeper than an earthquake, less violent and darker, a dark vibration in his own guts. Without saying anything, he had risen from his chair, had passed in front of his secretary, had ignored her reproachful look and had left without greeting her, had gone down the elevator, had not responded to the greeting of the security guard, and had reached his car and left the garage to win the street. He had a feeling. A bad one. Minutes later, he had arrived at his apartment. But he did not dare to enter the room, to leave the lintel of the door that protected him in a way, to reach the dressing room, to find the envelope that she would have left for him. He was crying. He was crying now. Standing in front of the door of the room that had been the two of them. He was crying and did not know why.
They had chosen to spend the holidays there, it had occurred to her. He had said
yes without much thought, that is, he had consulted his schedule, he had checked the date with his secretary, he had said yes. At that point of things, it did not matter going on vacation or not. The holidays were not going to solve anything, the problems were going to enter one by one in the suitcases and they were all going to go with them. There or somewhere else. They made two suitcases, one for her, one for him, and they also carried two travel bags, hers, a handbag, hers too, and a purse and a backpack, also hers. One day the alarm clock rang, which did not alert him to get up, to bathe, to go down to meet his car that would take him to the good presence of his secretary, but rather pointed out to him that the day of the trip had come so close that was today, is today, this very morning. Now. The journey. So they took a taxi to the airport, boarded a plane that they saw between threat and admiration through the windows of the pre-boarding room, slept badly on the flight. Once the plane left the ground and stabilized in the air, they reached their destination. There, they took a taxi to the hotel, and when they entered the room they sat on the bed. Almost nothing had been said during the entire trip. And they said nothing to each other now, sitting next to each other, in a strange room, in a bed that was not theirs, with a smell in the air that they still did not recognize, a different climate and an impossible time on the clock. And they didn't say anything to each other because at that point it didn't matter to go on vacation or stay in their lives. To talk or to be quiet. Several tourist days later, a guide picked them up at the door of the hotel where they were staying, charged them in advance and took them without them knowing it to a kind of nature reserve. The hotel receptionist had not been well understood when he had sold them the tour, but they had accepted the confusion as part of that no sense trip. They accepted the ride without fully wondering where they would go, and two hours' drive later, they ended up at the gate of a wild bird reserve. Two hours by jeep, not knowing not only the destination but also where they were taking them. And already in the reserve, they discovered something else: as it seems the tourists were not very interested in traveling thousands of kilometers from their homes just to visit that reserve where there were only wild birds, whoops, those in charge of the Reserve they had decided to incorporate a tiger. So it was that the guide picked them up, muddled in a bad translation, and led them to him. Even the tiger. Things happened as a succession of unfortunate events, and they let those things happen, thus escaped their own things, a journey that led them to a guide who spoke a language without vowels and who was suddenly silent, who stepped into the side, which presented the animal with a hand gesture. And somehow the tiger seemed to have been waiting for them. Innocent of what they had come for. A Siberian tiger watched them from his Siberian tiger eyes. In a tropical climate, an animal badly sold by a ruined circus, mistreated in a bird reserve, sold without papers and without enough official stamps, a tiger in a bird reserve that had forcibly forgotten the cold of the snow. And once in front of the animal, they were alone. He and she and the tiger. Him. She and the tiger. Tied by the neck with a chain that gave him a limited range of motion; the tiger did not move anyway. He looked at them. Just that. Sitting on his hind legs, you could tell he was looking at them and thinking about them. It was then that he knew it. He didn't know it the first time, he just knew it. There was a response in the tiger's eyes. Actually, there was a question in the tiger's eyes. He was there, standing in front of the animal, thousands of kilometers from everything known, and she was there, also there, thousands of kilometers from him. So the tiger no longer looked at them both, the tiger just looked at her, and took her with his eyes of tiger and could feel that she was lost in a jungle of grudges: the tiger was a tiger, he lived like a tiger, he was glad to be one, he suffered humbly to be a tiger, and he accepted the chain in his neck with courage, knowing that he was bound otherwise could kill them both: the tiger accepted the chain and accepted not being able to kill them. So. Threat and backwater at the same time. All of that sitting on his hind legs. With his tiger eyes in her eyes. That was enough to have her, so that she was no longer his. He was there and yet it was like never having gotten on the plane. she barely breathed in front of the tiger, and the tiger could feel her breathing and nothing else, because only that was left of her, warm air around her body, a body that was not really there either, a faded presence of a body surrounded by a warm and perfumed air that had been his and suddenly was not.
In the middle of the ocean night something woke him up. Immediately he recognized the swing of the water, the bunk where he slept, the claustrophobic proximity of the sailboat's walls. He was going to turn on a light, sit on the bed, detach himself as much as possible from that horrible feeling that had awakened him in the middle of the ocean, and the night. He looked through the skylight at the reflection of a moon on the surface of the water. There was a clear sky, there were stars and for the first time since he had set sail from that dock where he kept his sailboat, he admitted to being in the middle of nowhere. Because being there was being nowhere, or rather on an unrepeatable side, a portion of the ocean that moved with the tides, to the rhythm of the moon, a place impossible to leave or to return. But the moon reflected in the ocean was something beautiful, and with something like that you have the feeling that there is no danger, or that it does exist but it is irreparable. He turned his head and looked at the ceiling above the bunk. Suddenly he thought, without horror, that this sailboat was a coffin. Like a coffin he thought. Maybe he had that idea because of the confinement or maybe he thought about something else. He repeated the words one by one, slowly, in the middle of that darkness. For that he had embarked, had left everything known, to get to the tiger and kill him. But he knew immediately that they were both alive, not just alive, but there, both of them on this sailboat. He knew it in the same way that all things are known: without certainty or without the certainty that we would like. He locked up inside the cabin, and the tiger on the deck. He closed his eyes and managed to push the sounds of the wind out of his mind. Then he managed to hear the footsteps on the outer surface of the sailboat. There was no question. Although it was impossible. There was no question. In a calm but relentless rhythm, he heard the tiger's footsteps overhead. One by one. Four footsteps. At first he did not know what to do. I wasn't planning to find him there. He knew well that it was not possible to find a tiger on a sailboat. He had embarked to find him in the reserve, where he had seen him the first and last time. But not there. He lay back on the bunk again and for a moment wondered if any of it was really happening. He remembered the guide of that excursion, moving away and introducing them to the tiger, he remembered how at that moment her breath hitched, and, although he had not been able to see her, he knew that her eyes had closed to find the tiger's eyes in the darkness of the eyelids. That was how he had been, in an instant, expelled from her world forever. That thought struck him like a knife. It had hurt him before and it hurt him now. But he heard footsteps again, one after another, four footsteps that were repeated in four other footsteps. The tiger's eyes appeared in the dark, and through those eyes he saw himself again in front of his bedroom door, a bedroom that had been so far away. Standing on the doorstep, he was crying again. Not because she was gone, or because he was unable to enter the room. On that sailboat he also cried. The death of a blind tiger.
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