“How do you know I’m far from home?”
“Every place is far from here. Where are you going?”
“I don’t know.”
She nodded. “I think we are similar. We both share strange destinies in this life.” She held the cigarillo up and studied the burning end. “Though, it may be true that there are no other kinds of destinies.”
“I don’t believe in destiny,” I said.
She shrugged and laughed. “All that matters is that destiny believes in you.” Her voice had become languid and her eyes distant, as though she were looking out from behind some kind of veil.
It only made her more beautiful to me. Like the Guitarrista’s melancholy songs, something about her sadness resonated with me. If I do have a destiny, I thought, it is Lemanja. “Those men downstairs are waiting for you,” I said, just to have something to say.
Lemanja nodded and ground the cigarillo out on the windowsill. “It’s a strange thing to be a beautiful woman in this country. Where is your mother?”
“My mother is dead.”
“I don’t believe in things being sad,” I said. “Why do you stay here if you are free to go?”
Lemanja stood and stretched her arms over her head so that her breasts were outlined clearly beneath the camisole. Everything in my body lurched with desire. “It will be the same wherever I go,” she said. “It always has been. This land is cursed. The men here are men only in their violence. In all other things they are boys.” She looked at me. “You’re different, I think. You’re a poet.”
I spit outside the window. “Poets are the fools of the world.”
She cocked her head aside and smiled at me through glazed eyes. “A poet who does not believe in poetry. A strange destiny, indeed.”
“I don’t believe in destiny.”
“Yes, I recall you saying something like that.” Lemanja rolled her eyes and smiled. “I want to swim.”
Without another word, she climbed over the windowsill and down the rope hanging outside.