She brings her own pillow, one of those expensive foam ones, and her own toothbrush, and she takes it all with her on Monday morning. You send her one exploratory text, but it’s never answered. You two are pushing his daughter’s stroller around the playground near Columbia Terrace. And you thought this guy was a good idea for what reason? A little kissing, a little feeling up, but nothing beyond that. Within an hour, she has unfriended you on Facebook. You claim that you were sick, you claim that you were weak. You write her long sensitive letters, which she returns unopened. You start taking salsa classes, like you always swore you would, so that the two of you can dance together. You phone her every day and leave messages that she doesn’t answer. You’re out all the time, but no one seems to be biting. One girl, when you tell her you’re Dominican, actually says, Hell no, and runs full tilt toward the door. One month, two months, three months, and then some hope. You get serious about classes and, for your health, you take up running. You begin to wonder if there’s some secret mark on your forehead. He’s working for this ghetto-ass landlord and starts taking you with him on collection day. Deadbeats catch one peep of your dismal grill and cough up their debts on the spot. You start three novels: one about a pelotero, one about a narco, and one about a bachatero—all of them suck pipe. On the ride out to the hotel, up through those wild steeps, you pick up a pair of hitchhikers, a couple so giddy with love that you almost throw them out of the car. And every hour, like clockwork, you say that you’re , and asks you to move from the Harlem apartment that you two share when you’re not teaching in Boston. You even show up at her apartment at odd hours, and at her job downtown, until finally her little sister calls you, the one who was always on your side, and she makes it plain: If you try to contact my sister again, she’s going to put a restraining order on you.
You walk the beach where they filmed “The Piano,” something she’s always wanted to do, and now, in penitent desperation, you give it to her.
Then you’d lose your thick, you note, and she laughs. It’s all going swell, it’s all marvellous, and then, in the middle of a sun salutation, you feel a shift in your lower back and —it’s like a sudden power failure.