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A la Toscana

Sergi Belbel
In Tuscany


JAMES: Sorry to cut you off. I can’t avoid it. If you want my opinion: death and pain are two enduring things. Like two sides of the same coin. There’s no death without pain, one’s own someone else’s. And, in the same way, there’s no authentic pain without a sense of the threat of death behind it. As a result it’s absurd for you to ask yourself which frightens you most, one thing or the other, because they’re the same thing. And to say you want to die at a moment of extreme happiness seems like damn stupidity, sorry.
MARK: Think what you want. I thought I wanted to die.
JAMES: “I thought I wanted to die.” But now you’re here.
MARK: Unfortunately.
JAMES: So... you should have killed yourself.
MARK: And if I had done it? (Pause.) You don’t think I’m capable of doing it, do you?
JAMES: No. (Pause.) Neither of doing it, nor of thinking about it, nor of saying it.
MARK: Well of thinking about it, I have thought about it. In Tuscany, a week ago. Of saying it, I’ve done it. I just said it to you, now. I just need to do it.
JAMES: Listen, Mark, did something happen to you, there?
MARK: I just need to do it.
JAMES: ...Or not to do it!
MARK: And that’s not the question.
JAMES: Oh, no? What is the question then?
MARK: The question is... “Is there a question or not?” Because when all is said and done... don’t you think that life is always stronger than this “conjugation” of death and pain?
JAMES: I don’t know what you mean...
MARK: We’ve all seen people who are terminally ill. You more than I, surely. Some lose consciousness more than others. But they have all accepted the what. And they only ask that the how be as painless as possible. And in most cases, as later on as possible. When they speak about what they really feel, they use metaphors. “Give me a little water, please,” means “don’t go yet, stay a while, I like your company, and help me to calmly get through the inevitable, and you have to do it, because a few days from now you won’t be able see me and touch me anymore.” And you grab the plastic cup and look into the dying person’s eyes and help them drink, reading in their eyes those words your lips haven’t dared to pronounce, and you’re there for a while longer and when you leave, the person who is about to die, says to you: “I love you a lot,” and he or she had never said it to you before, much less with such clarity, with such bluntness. The “I love you” that a dying person says to you is the most absurd and perverse metaphor that exists. “I love you” means “I don’t want to die.” And nothing more. The person doesn’t love you at all. The person only wants not to be forgotten. So that when you leave the room, you take with you in your mind a part of them. Pieces of the life that is dying. And you take them with you. Because years later you still have the image in your mind of the person’s eyes while they enjoyed drinking four drops of water from a plastic cup. And you’ll never forget those eyes. When you look into your brain, the pieces that form the image come together and the person will come to life again. (Pause.) At least, the person’s gaze is still alive in your mind. (Pause.) That’s why there’s no question. Life always wins out.

Translated by Sharon G. Feldman
Sergi Belbel, In Tuscany. Traducció de Sharon Feldman., p. 12-14.
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