translated from the Spanish by Tyler Gebauer
Olivia steps out from her workplace. It’s seven o’clock at night, and it’s already dark. How can the sky be so dark so soon? she wonders. She thinks through her day. She had worked some overtime, but not that much. The sun should not have set yet. She stands still on the first step of the building that receives her every day at 9:00 am. Suddenly she remembers: it’s daylight savings time. Damnit! She is relieved because of the logical explanation, and at the same time annoyed for having forgotten to set back her clock.
The street is empty. Having cleared up her confusion, Olivia steps down from the stairs and sets her boots on the cold concrete. She walks a block. She walks two blocks. The light grows fainter with each step she takes. She hears someone else walking several meters behind her. The footsteps are light, barely audible. It doesn’t matter. They must be heading to the station as well.
Hopefully it has shark fangs and not alcohol breath
The figure keeps its distance from her. No need to worry. The sound comes closer. Olivia breathes in, searching for calm. Probably in a hurry, she thinks. The footfalls grow stronger as they approach, as if they were becoming heavier and heavier. Olivia breathes in and out again. It will all be okay, she tells herself. The footsteps quicken. She becomes aware of the thundering of her heartbeat. They are following me. My god, they’re following me.
Fear begins to take a hold of her. She imagines the appearance of the predator. Hopefully it’s a chimera, she pleads. She grips her keys in her restless fingers. Hopefully it has the wings of a dragon instead of two arms. Sweat covers the back of her cold neck. Hopefully it has goat horns instead of a poorly shaved beard. Olivia picks up her pace. Hopefully it has shark fangs and not alcohol breath. She runs without knowing where she is going. Hopefully it has a lion’s tail instead of an erection. She’s unfamiliar with the buildings and streets that surround her but she doesn’t care. She enters into that abyss as fast as her legs allow.
Olivia stumbles on a cobblestone. She falls on the concrete. Panic prevents her from getting up. She hugs her knees and trembles like a small child. The steps that stalk her pause for a moment. They continue moving ahead, but now take on a lighter tone. They are accompanied by a feminine voice: Are you all right? A woman Olivia’s age leans over her. What happened? Olivia hugs the stranger and cries into her shoulder. She looks around. It’s only the two of them.
Natalia Bassoco (Mexico City) is a writer and student of communication sciences at The National Autonomous University of Mexico. Her work has appeared in Escritoras Universitarias, Claro y Directo MX, AUNAM and Punto de Partida. She was also awarded first prize in the 51st national short story contest for the magazine Punto de Partida.
Tyler Gebauer is a freelance literary translator who has worked for organisations and writers based out of Chicago, Mexico City, Bolivia, and El Salvador. His literary translation has been published in Modern Literature and Packingtown Review (forthcoming). You can find him online at www.linkedin.com/in/tyler-gebauer-1992n
Saud Baloch was born Balochistan, Pakistan and studied fine arts at Balochistan University. In 2008, he moved to Lahore to complete his studies at the National College of Arts (NCA), majoring in sculpture, graduating in 2013 with a distinction. His thesis show, Sustained (2013), investigated the impact of physical and metaphorical burdens on the human form. Later sculptures and drawings have continued to enquire into this theme, exploring the effects of historic and geographical inheritances, and of contemporary political developments, through the manipulation of new materials and techniques. Since graduation, he has taught sculpture at the NCA, completed several large-scale commissions and exhibited extensively in Pakistan. In 2016, he moved to the UK, where he participated in Arts Council funded projects and exhibited as a solo artist (Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt, Hartlepool Art Gallery, 2017). He continues to show his work in Pakistan and abroad.