what would happen if they stretched her to an unreasonable extent, tried to take the situation to its limit, what would happen if ... ?
The night had turned a deep midnight blue. The breeze that had refreshed her earlier now chilled her to the bone.
She had counted to a hundred, then another hundred, then another. In the end, she had given up counting. She did not dare hang up, because the more time passed the more important (and difficult) whatever might be behind this seemed to her. The most important and difficult, the toughest and most risky.
She contemplated the silence, the sparse light, the kingdom of cats. She saw how the early hours in the city passed by, as if she were staring at the imperceptible movement of the hands of a watch.
What would happen, she wondered, if they did not speak to her? When, at what precise moment would it be necessary to conclude that the game was over? Who would yield first in this completely unequal test of strength?
All at once she heard the woman's voice. Her ear had been pressed against the receiver for so long the sound hurt, just like when a blind person is suddenly brought into the light again. The voice was short and sharp. It mentioned a place: plaza Desiderio Gaos, no number. Just a name: Friedman. A time: nine o'clock precisely, the next morning. Then the phone went dead.
Clara wanted to remain in the same pose, holding the receiver up to her ear, for a few moments longer. Then she grimaced and returned to life and its inconveniences.
That was in the early hours of Thursday 22 June, 2006.
The attic. The house in Alberca. Father.
The sun was shining brightly in the garden. It was a wonderful sight: the grass, the orange trees, her father's blue check shirt, his straw hat and thick square glasses. Manuel Reyes was short-sighted, almost obstinately so, or at least resigned to the fact, and was someone who did not mind having to wear such heavy, outdated, tortoise-shell contraptions. He insisted that his glasses added a weight of authority to the detailed descriptions he gave tourists of the paintings in the Prado museum. That was his job: to show people round the galleries, explaining with quiet erudition all the secrets of Las Lanzas and Las Me ninas, his favourite works. Father was pruning the orange trees while her brother Jose Manuel practised at his easel in the garage - he wanted to be a painter, but Father advised him to study for a career instead - and Clara waited in her room to go to Mass with her mother.
That was when she heard the sound.
In a house like her home, where there were so many, one more was unimportant. But this particular one had intrigued her. Her eyebrows raised in a questioning V. She left her room to discover who or what had made it.
The attic. Its door was ajar. Perhaps her mother had gone in to put something away and had not shut it properly afterwards.
The attic was a forbidden room. Their mother never let them go in there for fear that all the accumulated junk might fall on them. But Clara and Jose Manuel thought something terrible must be hidden in there. They both agreed on that, and only differed as to what that meant. For her brother, it was something bad; for Clara, it could be good or bad, but above all, it was attractive. Like a sweet, which could taste horrible but still look tempting. If something dreadful had appeared in front of them, Jose Manuel would have recoiled in horror, whereas Clara would have approached it fascinated, as stealthily as a child at Christmas. Horror would have provoked this contradictory movement: something truly horrible would have sent Jose Manuel running, whereas Clara would have been drawn to it like a possessed woman, as calmly and naturally as a stone dropping into the dark depths of a well.
Now, at last, the horror was calling out to her. She might have shouted to her mother - she could hear her busy in the kitchen -or run down into the garden to seek her father's protection, or gone
Simone Beaudelaire, J.M. Northup
Janwillem van de Wetering