A new day has just begun for Gala. Gala alone. She awakens every morning but has never managed to soften that process. Since Lucas is gone, her dreams feel like a warmer place than her own reality. She no longer turns on the phone first thing in the morning. Her therapist keeps telling her that she should stop thinking that the cellphone is the connection between herself and Lucas. And, as she rolls over on the huge empty bed covered with white sheets, she wonders how she could even think that a simple serial object would connect her to an expired love.
Gala enjoys caressing the marble stairs of her building as she goes down to the street. She has always been quite fascinated with marble. Gala has been struggling with acne issues since adolescence. Scars now overlap with her first wrinkles. She is angry at her own skin for never letting her know what it must feel like to have a smooth and harmonious face. Maybe that is the reason why she is so fond of marble. For her it will always be far nobler than her own skin.
In the painting academy, the women’s restroom is also for the disabled. She finds a strange comfort in a diaphanous and large space that allows her to leave the jacket and bag hanging, with at least two steps to reach the toilet. Public bathrooms, on the other hand, make her very tense. Gala always tries to avoid having to do something so intimate in a strange place. This is one of the few things she and her husband agreed upon.
She doesn’t sit on the toilet—never does. She crouches her head so that she sees the pee leave her sad body. Since Lucas is not around, she drinks water obsessively. It feels to her like a way of getting rid of that pain cyst, as if the water could break it down and make it leave her body. The pee looks to her like fractals of a life that dissolves and disappears through the toilet.
At the sink, there are no napkins, just a hand dryer, which makes her a little sad. Hands never get dried properly. And, suddenly, she remembers how she used to wash the dishes while Lucas hugged her from behind. It made her uncomfortable to have moist hands, and she felt unable to hug him back as she would have really liked. She now regrets having missed those everyday moments because of such trivial nuisances.
She is back home just before dinner and picks up a random book from the bookshelf. Her house is packed with books. Collecting them was one of the great genuine projects of Gala and Lucas during so many years of marriage. At flea markets in London, stalls in La Seine during their fall trips to Paris, hangover Saturdays in Los Encantes in Barcelona.A few months ago, I was awakened by a thunderous noise during the night. My bookshelf had broken down because of too many books. I saw all my magazines and books on the floor, in distress. Gala instantly came to my mind; I wondered what she would have thought if that had happened to her.
Lucas was fascinated with books. Their touch, their design. Books were like stocks to him, a smart long-term investment. A book by his favorite artist would be worth three times its original value in a few years. For Gala, a book is a trunk of past emotions. Just by opening a random page in any of them, she would go back to the exact space and time she had occupied the first time she read it. She would remember everything. The light of that moment, the conflicts that were haunting her, her subtle desires.
While for Lucas, a book was an object, for Gala, a book transcends the form. It belongs to the intangible universe and everything that cannot be touched remains there. She never understood how Lucas could see a book as an share, a precious object. But now, she says to herself that, after all, they were both placing books in a supreme place, so their respective feelings were not so different in the end. She now wishes she would have realized this when Lucas was still here.
The camera Gala gave to Lucas for his last birthday is still in the box. She realizes that in their ten years of love Gala had offered many cameras to Lucas: analogues, Polaroids. Lucas used to smile gratefully, but after the initial month or the first reel, he would never use it again. And now, as she keeps staring at the box, Gala thinks that perhaps there is a second reading in any gift, projecting the idea we have of our partner into the objects that we offer.
She wonders if Lucas’s absence could take the shape of an object. She would then proceed to include it in the box containing socks, underwear and strange artifacts that her ex-husband used to collect. She would leave that word, absence, in the nearest rubbish bin and that would be it.
But that word cannot be touched. However, a man in a skyscraper working alone at night with the whole empty floor could be touched. Although she is well aware that if she climbed the stairs of that building to get into the image, the shot would change completely and consequently the feeling that would go with it would instantly fade away. The feeling comes from an intangible image.
She thinks of this while stretching the cable of the Santa & Cole lamp that Lucas brought into the house so full of excitement. And she says to herself that this must be the absence made object: the noise of the lamp turning off and nobody next to her on the other side of the bed.