LOVE STORY 3 – by Luis Martín Ulloa. Translated from Spanish by Michael Langdon

I was his wife for two months. Not his lover, his wife.  What’s more, I was an unsatisfied wife.  Literally.  In my defense, I was completely inexperienced at that time. I had recently gotten my first “important” job, and it fell to me to interview him when he applied for a position. It wasn’t a difficult job for him. All he had to do was follow orders and keep all of our cubicles clean, and that he did.  He came by my desk frequently on any pretext, and at times I found it exasperating, until one day I noticed that he had a beautiful smile. He began to follow me everywhere: he would finish his work early and come to see if I wanted him to bring me something from the store. If I went down the stairs, he would be by my side, the hairs on his arm grazing against mine. If I went to the warehouse at the back of the yard, he would follow me there. I begin to get excited when we were alone together.

One afternoon, I was putting something away on the bookshelf. He sat in my chair, and when I was finished, I stood up to find him there, waiting for me. There was a moment of hesitation, and then I sat down on the arm of the chair and reached my hand toward his zipper. We both got flustered. I moved away, and he stood up immediately. For two or three days, we didn’t speak. Later, I apologized, and he gave me one of his beautiful smiles. 

The first time I jerked him off was in the bathroom in the back. The romance I wanted to see in the scene wasn’t broken even when he said, “It’s been days since I’ve done anything.” We began to seek each other out, to have little encounters in whatever nook, including when we weren’t completely alone. I was taking a great risk, of course, but I didn’t care. The pattern that was established on our first encounter continued: at first, he would resist, but then he would allow me to pull his dick out. After he came, he would run off rapidly so that no one would see us. He would leave me there, more turned on than when we had started, with no other option than to get myself off. I tried to get him to go a little further with me, after what seemed to me a reasonable lapse of time, but he wouldn’t give in. Sometimes his wife would come see him and leave one of their kids with him. We would take the boy to the store and buy him something so that he wouldn’t get irritable, each of us taking him by one hand.

One day, out of the blue, he told me that he had had a big fight with his wife and that they were going to separate. He asked me if he could come sleep at my house for a few days until he found somewhere else to stay. That evening, I arrived at the house first, not knowing what to do with myself while I waited for him to show up. After making up the mattress that my brother had left in the spare bedroom, I tried to follow my normal after-work routine, but my excitement wouldn’t leave me. My heart almost came out of my chest when I heard him knock on the door. I helped him with the rucksack in which he had packed his clothes, as if he were returning from a long trip. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world. But the trap had been laid. 

We stopped seeking each other out at the office. There was no reason to take risks there if we could be alone together in the house. Or that’s what I thought. I believed our honeymoon was about to begin. But the truth was that we weren’t moving beyond the handjobs I had been giving him all along. Although he gave no explanation and only refused repeatedly to do anything more, I made excuses for him: I tried to convince myself that this was something new for him, that he felt dislocated by the situation with his wife, etc. In short, I needed to give time to what I insisted upon viewing as a “relationship”: it was enough that I was now “living with someone.”

Moreover, since I had more free time than he did, it seemed natural to me to start doing his laundry. At first, I did it stealthily, and then, when he needed something and opened a drawer and was surprised to find his clothes folded, smelling of fabric softener, I could only smile with pleasure. He would give me a rough hug, of that type of roughness that is less a manifestation of feelings than a way of creating distance, like the hug he would give to any of his straight friends. And, nevertheless, I felt rewarded. And I tolerated and accepted the delay. Even when he invited me to watch him play football, I convinced myself that we were making progress. What followed was nothing more than suffering through two or three Saturdays of commotion and near sunstroke on the football field.

With a few small variations, our life together continued in this vein. At times, I asked myself why I was putting up with all of this, if it was worth the trouble. But it was enough to see him leaving the bathroom wearing nothing but his underwear, and to think that the cock outlined in cloth might wind up in my mouth, for me to tell myself yes.

As hope wears out, it grows tired of not being fed. I began to harass him openly. He had begun living with me the 15th of October, the day before my birthday (I tried to see the hand of fate in the date, of course). By December, a mixture of horniness and resentment was driving me crazy. One night after dinner (because all this time, if I could cook, I would do so for both of us), I gave him an ultimatum: if he didn’t fuck me right then and there, everything was over. In that moment, what I said sounded completely stupid to me, but I didn’t back down.

He thought I was joking, and he got up and tried to hug me. I pushed him without measuring my strength, and if he hadn’t been able to grab onto the table, he would have landed on the floor. He quickly went to his bedroom. The following morning, we didn’t see each other in the office. That night, he came home, greeted me, and shut himself in his room. The next evening, when I came home from work late, having eaten out and gone to a movie, I found a goodbye note filled with gratitude. There were no clothes in his drawers.

He endeavored to do his work without ever having to speak to me. I wasn’t in the same room with him again until the Christmas party, on the last day of activities at the university. Afterward came winter break. But I never heard from him again. He requested to be transferred to another department. I don’t even know if he’s still separated from his wife or not. How stupid. Him. Me as well.

Luis Martín Ulloa teaches literature at the University of Guadalajara. He has published two collections of short stories, Damas y Caballeros and Personas (In)deseables.   

Michael Langdon teaches English at Chabot College in Hayward, California. His translations have been published in Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Your Impossible Voice, and Foglifter.