keeping the secrets of the apartments. I looked at them and couldn’t guess which ones I’d be looking out of from now on. With a somewhat tremulous hand I gave a few coins to the watchman, and when heclosed the building door behind me, with a great rattling of wrought iron and glass, I began to climb the stairs very slowly, carrying my suitcase.
Everything felt unfamiliar in my imagination;the narrow, worn mosaic steps, lit by an electric light, found no place in my memory.
In front of the apartment door I was overcome by a sudden fear of waking those people, my relatives, who were,after all, like strangers to me, and I hesitated for a while before I gave the bell a timid ring that no one responded to. My heart began to beat faster, and I rang the bell again. I heard a quaveringvoice:
Shuffling feet and clumsy hands sliding bolts open.
Then it all seemed like a nightmare.
In front of me was a foyer illuminated by the single weak lightbulb in oneof the arms of the magnificent lamp, dirty with cobwebs, that hung from the ceiling. A dark background of articles of furniture piled one on top of the other as if the household were in the middle ofmoving. And in the foreground the black-white blotch of a decrepit little old woman in a nightgown, a shawl thrown around her shoulders. I wanted to believe I’d come to the wrong apartment, but thegood-natured old woman wore a smile of such sweet kindness that I was certain she was my grandmother.
“Is that you, Gloria?” she said in a whisper.
I shook my head, incapable of speaking, but shecouldn’t see me in the gloom.
“Come in, come in, my child. What are you doing there? My God! I hope Angustias doesn’t find out you’ve come home at this hour!”
Intrigued, I dragged in my suitcaseand closed the door behind me. Then the poor old woman began to stammer something, disconcerted.
“Don’t you know me, Grandmother? I’m Andrea.”
She hesitated. She was making an...
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