She was almost unrecognizable. She had put on weight, and in spite of her make-up her face looked worn, not so much by time as by frustration, which surprised me, as I never really that thought Clara aspired to anything. And if you don’t aspire to anything, how can you be frustrated? Her smile had also undergone a transformation. Before, it had been warm and slightly dumb, the smile of a young lady from a provincial capital, but it had become a mean, hurtful smile, and it was easy to read the resentment, rage, and envy behind it. We kissed eachother on the cheeks like a pair of idiots and then sat down; for a while we didn’t know what to say. I was the one who broke the silence.  I asked about her son; she told me he was at daycare, and then asked me about mine. He’s fine, I said. We both realized that, unless we did something, the meeting was going to become unbearably sad. How do I look? Clara asked. It was as if she were asking me to slap her. Same as ever, I replied automatically. I remembered we had a coffee, then went for a walk along an avenue lined with plane trees, which led directly to the station. My train was about to leave. We said goodbye at the door of the station, and that was the last time I saw her.

Clara, Roberto Bolano

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