A new day has just started for Gala. Gala alone. She wakes up 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 as the first thing in the morning. Her therapist keeps telling her that she should stop thinking that the cellphone is the connection between her and Lucas. And, as she rolls over on the huge 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 the street. She has always been quite fascinated by marble. Gala has been struggling with acne issues since adolescence. Spots have now overlapped 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 more noble than her own skin.
In the painting academy, women’s restroom is also for the disabled. She feels comfortable when she has a diaphanous and large space that allows her to leave the jacket and the bag hanging, and there are at least two steps to reach the toilet. Public bathrooms get 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 agreed with her husband.
She doesn’t sit on the toilet, never does. She crouches her head so that she sees the pee leave her sad body. She has been drinking lots of water. Since Lucas is not around, she drinks water obsessively. It feels to her like a way of getting rid of all that pain cyst, as if the water could break it down. The pee looks to her like fractals of a life that dissolves and disappears through the toilet.
In the sink there are no napkins, just a hand dryer; that makes her a little sad. Hands never get dried properly. And, suddenly, she has just remembered when she would wash the dishes and Lucas would hug her from the back. It made her uncomfortable to have her hands moist and felt unable to hug him back as she would have liked. She now regrets having missed those everyday moments because of such trivial nuisances.She is back home just before dinner and has picked 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: 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 there were too many books and it was too heavy. 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 by books. Their touch, their design. Books were stocks, 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 from any of them, she would go back to the exact space and time in which she was the first time she read it. She would remember everything: the light of that moment, the conflicts that were haunting her, her subtle desires.
For Lucas, a book is an object. For Gala a book transcends the form, it belongs to the intangible universe– everything that cannot be touched remains there. She never understood how Lucas could see a book as an action, 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 realize that when Lucas was still there.
The camera Gala gave to Lucas for his last birthday is still in the box. She had just realized that in their ten years of love, Gala had offered to Lucas many cameras: analogues, Polaroid… Lucas used to smile gratefully, but after the initial month or the first reel, he never used 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 in the objects that we offer.
She wonders if Lucas’s absence could become 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. A man in a skyscraper working at night alone with the whole empty floor, that, she could touch it. Although she is well aware that if she climbed the stairs of that building to get into the image, the plane would change completely and consequently the feeling that would go with it would instantly fade away.
She is thinking about that while stretching the cable of the Santa & Cole lamp that Lucas got 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.