Coffee in the Early Morning

October 16th, 1978

She came back. Pounded on our door before dawn, hair unbrushed, eyes sunken into cavernous pits, and Matias fell to his knees. I had never seen a man cry before the storming of the Moneda. At first I didn’t know who it was. It was Beatriz who shouted, “Mama!” Sleepy girl, still in her pyjamas. She ran to hug her, and my boy, who does everything his sister does, ran after her and began to hug this woman too. This woman who had been absent for so long. This woman who didn’t exist.

I tried not to hate her. I tried to think of the pain of being separated from my baby for so long, of not being able to sweep his hair back or wipe the milk mustache from his face. I tried to think of her as there with Ramon, my uncle, of them giving each other some sort of comfort in the not-to-be-found-on-any-map place they had been. But my heart twisted with jealousy and it was not so. So I made coffee instead.

Behind me, my husband is overcome with joy at the sight of his first wife, and anguish at the two of us in the room together. It was the first time I had to directly face the fact that he never loved me. Here he is looking into the eyes of his chosen life partner, his best friend so cruelly ripped from him, and he wants to smother her in affection. He wants to pull her close and tell her all the things that have been on his lips these past two years. But he can’t because the guilt of my presence is pressing on him, so he says nothing.

Then she storms the Moneda all over again, with the words, “I’m taking my daughter.”




1 thought on “Coffee in the Early Morning

  1. ssvolk says:

    How terrible that something so good can also bring pain.

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