That night, when I got up from the floor, I felt loaded with my own blood and breath. I was slowed down from the heat. I walked over to the bathroom floor-length mirror and stared at myself, naked. My cheeks bore the weight of water, leaving a slimy sheen. I could see more of myself without my long hair, and I didn’t like it. My body had been developing without me quite realizing it. My boobs looked heavier. Streams of fat felt along my thighs and I was beginning to pale. I pressed my face close to the glass and stared at myself for so long that my features lost their meaning and I thought I didn’t really exist. My lips were purple and papery. It made me think of my father’s lips, always a little worn on the edges. I was cold again.
“Roberta? Are you alright in there?” Tia Nastácia called from outside of the door. I had been in there for a while, I realized.
“Yeah. I’m fine,” I said this in a loud voice, trying to break away from what my voice would have naturally sounded like, wet and broken.
I could feel that she was still there, pressed against the door, leaning on her big hands.
“Listen, I probably shouldn’t have told you to come today. I just wanted to do something for you. But it was the wrong thing, you see.”
“I know that.” I wanted my tia to stop pitying me. I didn’t want any more questions or forgiving words. I wanted to pretend that nothing had happened. But just when I thought that maybe we had already made up and that she had left, she said:
“Roberta I saw you today. I saw that you were looking through that window.”
It was quiet for a while until I turned towards the door, as if she could see my guilty naked self, and I told her I was sorry.
When I had gotten out of the bathroom, tia Nastácia was already sleeping. She had left my bedside lamp on for me, and a glass of cold water on the table. I got the sudden urge to wake her but I didn’t. When I was very young, I would wake mamãe by softly blowing on her face, so as not to wake her too inconveniently. She would open her eyes slowly, catching my last breaths between blinks. My neck felt soft against the pillow. I had the habit of going to sleep with my hair wet, and when my hair was long I’d suck the ends of my hair until I’d fall asleep. I lay on my back like my tia that night, allowing my spine to flatten and unroll like a racing roll of ribbon. It felt good to just lie there and not think too much.