She came to me. She came and said, “Hi.” “Hi,” I replied. Maybe I should have said more, but “Hi” was all I could manage. She asked me if I was drunk, I said I wasn't―if I had a drop of alcohol, I wouldn't be able to talk to her for another second. I should have told her that, but I didn't. She looked at me under the faint light and said she wanted to have something to drink, then asked me if I wanted to join her, since she had come alone. So I went―I'd go wherever she wanted to, even if she wanted to walk around campus at that time of the night. I paid for her drink, of course, “As any men should,” I told her. She said she partially agreed with me, but called me chauvinist. Chauvinist, me? She drank the beer anyway, and said she wanted to check out the band that was playing. We went to check them out, that shitty band. Fuck, why didn't I tell her already? I was drinking that beer just to be next to her, and I'd take a walk around campus, too... I asked her how she was gonna go back home, and she said she'd wait until the morning, 'cause the buses would be back on the street in the morning. “No, c'mon! I'll take you,” I helpfully offered. I was acting like a dog, laying on the ground, offering my belly for a scratch, just to be turned down on the spot. Yes, that's what I was, a dog, a silly dog. But she said yes and smiled at me when the beer was gone. “Want another one?” I asked. She said no, maybe later. I started to squeeze the can, trying to cover up for my despair. I wanted to do so many things, so many things, so many things. And, nothing. Nothing. Dog. I was afraid there was still some beer left in the can and I'd get all wet, then I remembered I had drunk it all in one big gulp, so I wouldn't waste any time and wait for the alcohol to give me courage to be a dog no more. “Want another one?” I asked. She repeated that she didn't. “Why, do you wanna get me drunk?” she asked. “Me? No way!” I told her I was just trying to be nice, and she laughed. Once again, I felt like doing everything, everything. And, nothing. No, that's not possible. What was going on with me? Why was I always like that? Was I special, was that it? I grabbed her and kissed her right there... No, that never happened. She said she wanted to go for a walk, so I went with her. We went together. There was grass everywhere, and I sat down wondering if my breath was unpleasant. She asked me if I liked those frat parties, and I said I didn't, that everybody who went to those parties was annoying, ugly, that there were never enough girls. I gave up talking. If I kept going, I'd told myself to shut up. I looked at her face, her neck, her chest, her arms, her hands, then her face again, and she kept staring at me. She asked me what I was looking at, and I said her shirt was cool. She said her ex-boyfriend had given it to her. Great, great. I asked her if she liked Bashô. “Who's that?” “Bashô, the one with the banana trees,” I told her. No, she didn't know him. I told her I could lend her one of his books. “Cool, I'll read it,” she said. How do you say “dog” in Japanese? “Wow, it's late already,” she said. “Should we get going?” she asked. “Let's go,” I answered. Well, it had to be right then. In the car, I put it on reverse so slowly even I thought it was weird. I backed up slowly, slowly, slowly. Nothing more. “Wow! The campus is so peaceful at this time of the night,” I said. She said she loved the campus at night. “It's beautiful,” I said. I couldn't take it any longer―there are moments when even dogs react. She said I was trying to be a jerk, that I wanted to just start kissing without talking. “You don't have to be a jerk with me,” she said in a tone of voice I had never heard before. I told her my biggest flaw was that I was always sincere. She said that wasn't a flaw. Yeah, another one who said that, so what? I kept talking about my sincerity, and I hated the fact I was talking. “Shut up!” I yelled at myself. “Silence!” I kept quiet, waiting for that reaction, that one. We got to her building and she said bye with that same tone of voice she had said hello to me.

RAFAEL F. CARVALHO was born in São Paulo in 1978 and graduated in Languages and Literature at the São Paulo University (USP).

He works at Editora Patuá and has published two books: A estante deslocada [The Displaced Bookshelf] and A cor do sal [The Color of Salt].

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