Nacha heard them calling at the kitchen door and froze. When they insisted, she opened it reluctantly and looked out into the night. Laura appeared with a finger over her lips in a sign of silence. She was still wearing the white suit, burnt and soiled with dirt and blood.
`Señora!' whispered Nacha.
Señora Laura entered softly and looked with interrogating eyes at the cook. Later, confident,she sat down next to the stove and examined her kitchen as if she had never seen it before.
`Nachita, give me some coffee. . . I'm cold.'
`Señora, the señor...the señor will kill you. We had already given you up for dead.'
Laura stared in amazement at the white tiles, drew her feet up on the chair, clasped her knees and became pensive. Nacha put the water on to boil for coffee andlooked sideways at her mistress; she couldn't think of anything else to say. Laura rested her head on her knees, she seemed very sad.
`You know, Nacha? It's the fault of the tlaxcaltecas.'
Nacha didn't answer, preferring to stare at the water that wasn't boiling.
Outside, the night erased the roses in the garden and pulled shadows over the fig trees. Far behind the branches, the illuminatedwindows burned from the neighbors' houses. The kitchen was separated from the world by an invisible wall of sadness, by a compass of hope.
`Don't you agree, Nacha?'
`I am like them: a traitor...' Laura said mournfully.
The cook folded her arms in hopes the water would boil.
`And you, Nachita, are you a traitor?'
She looked at her expectantly. If Nacha shared her disloyalty, shewould understand her, and Laura needed someone to understand her that night.
Nacha reflected a moment, turning to look again at the water that was beginning to boil noisily. She poured it over the coffee and the hot aroma helped made her comfortable around her mistress.
`Yes, I too am a traitor, señora Laurita.'
Satisfied, she served the coffee in a white cup, put in two lumps of sugar andplaced it in front of Laura who, deep in thought, took some small sips.
`You know, Nachita? Now I know why we have so many accidents on the infamous road to Guanajuato. At Thousand Peaks we ran out of gas. Margarita was scared because it was already getting dark. A trucker gave us enough to get to Morelia. At Cuitzeo, when crossing the white bridge, the car stopped suddenly. Margarita got upset withme, you know how empty roads and Indians' eyes frighten her. When a car full of tourists came by, she went to the pueblo to look for a mechanic and I stayed in the middle of the white bridge that crosses the dried lake with a bottom of white stones. The light was very white and the bridge, the stones and the automobile began to float in it. Then the light broke into many pieces until it became athousand points and began to spin until it was fixed like a picture. Time had taken a complete turn, like when you look at a postcard and then turn it over to see what's written on back. That was how I came to the lake of Cuitzeo, to the other girl that I was. Light produces these catastrophes, when the sun turns white and one is at the center of its rays. Thoughts also become a thousand points, andyou suffer vertigo. In that moment, I saw the texture of my white dress and in that instant I heard his steps. I wasn't surprised. I looked up and I saw him coming. In that instant, I also remembered the magnitude of my treason, I was afraid and tried to run away. But time closed in on me. It became rare and dying, and I couldn't move from the seat of the automobile. "Some day you will findyourself faced with your actions changed into solid stone like that one," they told me as a child when showing me the image of some god, I don't remember which one now. One forgets, right Nachita? but only for a while. Back then, the words also seemed to me like stone, but like a crystalline and fluid rock. The stone would solidify at the end of each word, to remain written forever in time. Weren't...
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