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Old Rosa

(my translation of a novella by Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas)

In the end she went out to the yard, almost enveloped in flames, leaned against the tamarind tree that no longer flowered, and began to cry in such a way that the tears seemed never to have begun, but to have been there always, flooding her eyes, producing that creaking noise, like the noise of the house at the moment when the flames made the strongest posts totter and the flashing frame came down in an enormous crackling that pierced the night like a volley of fireworks. She went on crying, and her face, shrouded in a reddish halo, looked at times like the face of a little girl lost in the middle of one of those storms that only occur in hallucinatory illustrations accompanying stories of witches and other phantasmagorias, which she had never read. But now and then, when the flames exploded almost before her eyes, singeing her lashes, her face lit up with all the features that time had undertaken to etch there. Then it could be seen, clearly, that this was an old woman...