I sat down and wept, by Juan José Millás

I went into the changing room of a department store, which turned out to be occupied by a guy who his nose was missing. “Sorry & rdquor ;, I excused myself, hurriedly heading to the dressing room next door, where I tried, in front of the mirror, to imagine myself without that appendage. The shirt was a good size for me, but I was not convinced by his workmanship, so I returned the garment and gave up trying on others because the sight of the man without a nose had disturbed me. Back home, on the bus, she took my hand to her all the time, to the nose, to check that it was still there. At this, she came over to greet me an old classmate who was missing an arm. It was already missing when we met in high school, but then it was the left and now the right. It can’t be, I told myself, the arms can’t be absent alternately, today one, tomorrow the other. While we were talking, I remembered and I remembered him writing on the desk, always with his right hand.

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The matter occupied my mind for a couple of days and then I decided that it was one of the many inexplicable things that happen to us throughout life. The problem was that he kept constantly touching my nose to check that he hadn’t lost his way. I did it with my right hand, because I had been losing, almost without realizing it, the ability to move my left arm, which was the one that my partner originally lacked. I was becoming a functional one-armed man, since, although he enjoyed the limb, he could hardly use it.

The situation lasted about 15 days. Little by little, I stopped obsessing over the imaginary absence of the nose while recovering the mobility of my arm. I decided then that the time had come to get hold of the shirt whose purchase I had delayed. The clerk at the department store calculated the size by eye and gave me a blue one that I chose for the shape of its neck. In a somewhat reckless act of audacity, I entered the dressing room of the man without a nose, which was empty. But when unfolding the shirt it turned out to have a defect: the left sleeve was missing. I tried it on anyway, defending myself as best I could from the anguish attack, but it turned out that the mirror had a defect at the height of my nose that made it practically invisible. So I sat down and cried.

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