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Mercè Rodoreda
A broken mirror


Those velvety eyes and that contagious laughter seduced him. He was always to remember Teresa’s entrance into the room, in her hazel moiré dress, a pink rose on her breast and a marten overcoat hanging down to her feet, and shivering, complaining about the weather. They barely exchanged two words, but when they parted she shook hands with him, laughing as if she'd known him all her life. He saw her again the day after Twelfth Night, also at Quim’s brother’s house. Rafael told him he’d invited the two of them for dinner because both of them were a bit lost: she'd been a widow for a little over a year, and he had no relatives in Barcelona. When coffee was served and the men were left alone, Valldaura asked, to what branch of the Godays did Teresa belong?

“I don’t quite know,” Rafael answered him evasively, “but since she's the widow of Nicolau Rovira she has many friends, and all doors are open to her.”

Teresa and Eulàlia, Rafael's wife, had become intimate friends and once in a while would go window shopping together. One week after that dinner Valldaura, walking by himself along the Passeig de Gracia, saw them get out of a carriage on the corner of Carrer Casp. Teresa wore a hat with bird-of-paradise feathers.

"What nice feathers," Valldaura said, stepping to her side.

"Are you sure you are not making fun of me?" Teresa looked splendid, and men turned their heads to look at her. He was about to take her arm but had second thoughts: one couldn't do that sort of thing in Barcelona. They walked together for a while, and before he left the women he said he wouldn't be seeing them for a while as he'd received a letter from Paris and had to leave before the end of the week.

One afternoon two days later Valldaura went to Can Culleretes. He had the habit of going to that cafe for a dish of whipped cream on the eve of his departure, once he was all packed. It was his way of saying good-bye to Barcelona. Lost in thought, he heard Teresa’s voice: “May I sit at your table?”

The waiter came at once. “The usual, Senyora Rovira?”

Teresa laughed. “Yes, Joan, whipped cream and an ensaimada.”

Setting her gloves and purse on a chair next to hers, she told Valldaura, who had not yet recovered from his surprise, "You see, we like the same things." They talked about the weather, of the Bergadas, of Joaquim, whom Teresa had never met. Then they sat for a while, not knowing what else to say.

Teresa sighed. “How nice it must be to travel…”

He replied that he was beginning to feel tired of globetrotting on his own and that he'd always been afraid of marrying a foreigner. "It might work out, but I've never felt like trying." All of a sudden he remembered Barbara and blushed. Teresa took her teaspoon and toyed with her whipped cream; looking at him, her eyes filled with false innocence, she thought: I'll bet you've slept around plenty! They barely said another word. When they rose, Valldaura said good-bye reluctantly. He was smitten.
The next day, before he left the hotel with his suitcases, he ordered flowers to be sent to Teresa daily. "Violets, while they are in season." It would be as if the Vienna idyll had taken hold again. More realistically, however, he left a boxful of his cards. On each one of them he had written, “Devotedly.”

Traduït per Josep Miquel Sobrer
Mercè Rodoreda, A broken mirror. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006, pp.15-17.
Mercè Rodoreda, fotògraf desconegut, 1980 (AHCB-AF)
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