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Curt Eriksen

Noche Buena

He flicks on the light in the bedroom and squints against its glare. His eyes are going too, have been for some time now. But he knows—he can remember this much—where the lighter might be and he goes to the bedside table and grabs it, knocking the ashtray aside and spilling ash and stained butts that roll onto the floor. Severo starts to bend over to pick them up but instead he turns around and, walking out of the room, curses life again.

Although his memory has faded with his physical strength, one thing Severo can never forget is the hunger. It's no longer a sensation or even an excuse for overeating or berating his wife. After all, she didn't starve the way he did. She grew up in a village, on the Castilian plane, where life was bearable. But in Madrid there was no animal more miserable than the orphaned son of a Republican hero.

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