The Melancholia of Happy Endings

Edited by Davina Bell, Julia Carlomagno and Rachael Howlett

h2-cover2EXTRACT

He feels the cold here, and the heat; he suffers from both. He has a theory that a lack of altitude can be just as dangerous as too much if you’re not used to it: it’s being at sea level, he thinks, that fosters his melancholia. I don’t remind him that he lived in coastal Lima for two years. He would say that Lima doesn’t count, that there was always the option of altitude and the journeys to his white city to visit family were enough.

The forty-hour flight was his second flight. The Pacific was a span of blue far below; when he landed he looked at it from the west rather than the east. No more watching the sun sinking into its depths. But I was there waiting for him, there at the airport, and that, for the moment, made it all okay. He smelt of stale sweat and exhaustion. There hadn’t been an interrogation like last time.

I took him home and he emptied his suitcase onto my bedroom floor and called his family and fell asleep on my bed. I watched him sleep and touched him carefully; he was here in my bedroom. Finally, right here, lying on my bed. He couldn’t stop thinking of the way his nephew ignored him when he left. His nephew had said to him, Ah, you’re doing just what papá did and looked the other way.

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