NDJ:3 Lynn Somerstein, MA

THE LAST TIME I SAW YOU

Last night when I sat down to dinner with my husband in the little restaurant in Tuy your face took shape like a suddenly remembered dream; your image seemed to be reflected in a smooth green bottle of Santa Rita Reserva, the same wine that you and I used to drink. I remembered that we had talked about taking a long river trip together, but somehow we never made it.

“I’ll order the wine, Carlo.”

He was surprised. “As you like.”

For an appetizer I chose to eat avocado and shrimp. I scooped out the avocado and the tiny shrimp planted tenderly in its concave soft green body. Slippery.

“This used to be my specialty,” I told my husband. “I used to make this all the time.”

He agreed that it looked delicious. I didn’t tell him that you and I used to cook together.

“Missing the kids?” Carlo asked.

“The kids?”

“You’re so quiet. What are you thinking?”

“Nothing. lust enjoying the view.” I poured myself some more wine. Carlo’s glass was still full.

“What would you like to do tomorrow? Swim? Go for a boat ride? We don’t have to spend the whole day with mother.”

“That would be nice. After dinner I would like you to walk with me next to the river.”

“You would hate the mosquitoes.”

“That’s true.”

“Beautiful restaurant, isn’t it?” Carlo said.

“Yes.”

“Are your scallops good?”

“Yes. Aren’t you going to call your mother, Carlo?”

“Si, yes, right now. I’ll be right back.”

Carlo touched my cheek before he sat back down at our table. “Mom sends you her love, as always. She asks if you’ve sold any paintings,”

“She asks me every day.”

“She always remembers that you like to paint. Would you like dessert?”

“Dessert? Sure. Anything you like.”

I looked out the window and saw your smile reflected in the mist that hovers over the Rio Mapocho. I sensed your long body stretching out in the grass as I smelled the fecund effluvial mud, a touch of decaying vegetable matter that means something has died and something else is growing. That was the last time I saw you.