Chapter 21

HYPOCHONDRIA IS FINE, THANK YOU

Illustration de Paloma Agüera

In a space of a few square meters his eyes seem to point to some infinity, as if they were able to go beyond the walls that enclose us. His body vibrates, sweats and cries from time to time, but not like we cry when we have lost something, when we are sad. He cries like a dog that has been adopted out of the kennel but has not forgotten that he got there because of his abuser. 

– I’m sad too. Being a mom is a challenge – I tell him in an attempt to interrupt his silent monologue.

I stir my coffee and review our options. There are many more than we expected, but he must have thought they were not enough. A few minutes earlier, at the geneticist’s office, he had already been tense and challenging with the doctor, as if he preferred not to receive any dose of optimism. Sitting in front of her, he had not leaned his back on the chair and his legs, which from time to time he hooked with his paws, forcing them to stay still, had involuntarily interrupted the talk in the form of an involuntary kick. The doctor summarized what preimplantation genetic diagnosis was. “Luis,” she named him, holding his hand that kept moving, “Luis,” she insisted condescendingly, “you can be a father without taking the test.” It was great news.

– Toast, churros or scrambled eggs? – I asked him several times from the counter of a bar near the hospital. He doesn’t answer, he has been silent for half an hour talking with a chatty mind and with a compulsion in the form of a Google search that has already given me clues about his internal dialogue.

– Luis – I tell him, trying to join the conversation with himself when I return to the table – love, you don’t have anything, really. It’s just a tremor. The temperature changes. I don’t know. I am too. A hug.

I try to make our eyes meet, but he doesn’t look at me, not at breakfast either. Every time he blinks, I think he’s going to stay there, a victory for his brain, outside there’s nothing interesting left for him. I steal a piece of ham from him to start and end up scraping his whole plate to finish. He hasn’t interacted with the waiter either coming or going. The tea has been cold for a while. I cry too, but his sight is, indeed, in an infinity of neurons that knows his weaknesses, his narrative, the threads he is unable to unravel but which, in a responsibility he takes as his own, the mind makes and unmakes. I can almost see it in his pupils:, the cable of an earphone that has long been in a bag, a maze of green bushes with him in the middle, a city full of people, animals, vehicles, smoke, smells, chaos.

We leave without speaking, he walks with his cell phone, which doesn’t even last two seconds in his pocket, and, for that very reason, he stumbles at the entrance and falls face first on the ground. The waiter comes out quickly to pick him up, but he doesn’t let him and ends up pushing him away with a slap. 

See! – he shouts at me – look! – he says again, pointing to his cell phone screen with a list of “First symptoms: falls, mood swings, memory lapses…” – I’m already sick! And if I am, why am I going to be a father for?

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