Brazilian top literature: short fiction "Betsy" by RUBEM FONSECA
Betsy waited for the man to return to die.
Before the trip he had noticed that Betsy was hungry. Then other symptoms emerged: excessive drinking of water, urinary incontinence. Betsy’s only problem till then was the cataract in one of her eyes. She didn’t like to go out, but before the trip she had unexpectedly come into the elevator with and the two of them had strolled along the sidewalk by the beach, something she had never done. The day the man arrived Betsy had the hemorrhage and didn’t eat. Twenty days without eating, lying on the bed with the man. The specialists he consulted said that there was nothing to be done. Betsy only left the bed to drink some water.
The man stayed in bed with Betsy throughout her agony, caressing her body, feeling said at the thinness of her hips. On the last day, Betsy, very quiet, her blue eyes open, stared at the man with the same gaze as ever, which indicated the comfort and pleasure produced by his presence and his affection. She began to tremble, and he hugged her more tightly. Feeling that her limbs were cold, the man arranged a comfortable position for Betsy on the bed. Then she extended her body, appearing to stretch, and turned her head away wearily. Then she stretched her body even more and sighed, a powerful exhalation. The man thought Betsy had died.
But a few seconds later she emitted another sigh. Horrified but his meticulous attention, the man counted each of Betsy’s sighs one by one. She exhaled nine identical sighs, her tongue hanging outside her mouth. Then she began to beat her stomach with her legs, as she would occasionally do, only more violently. Immediately afterward, she became immobile. The man ran his hand lightly over Betsy’s body. She stretched and extended her limbs for the last time. She was dead. Now, the man knew, she was dead.
The man spent the entire night awake at Betsy’s side, lightly and silently caressing her, not knowing what to say. They had lived together for eighteen years.
In the morning, he left her on the bed and went to the kitchen to make coffee. He drank the coffee in the living room. The house had never been so empty and sad.
Fortunately, the man had not thrown out the cardboard box from the blender. He returned to the bedroom. He carefully placed Betsy’s body in the box. With the box under his arm, he went to the door. Before opening it and going out, he wiped his eyes. He didn’t want to be seen like that.
Translated into English by Clifford Landers. Rubem Fonseca’s The Taker and Other Stories. New York: Rochester, 2008.