Amor con Amor se Paga
Lina Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas
AMOR CON AMOR SE PAGA
Love with love is paid.
Love with love is paid.
Eye for an eye.
“No, no. I got this.”
Fausti couldn’t sleep without Quena’s hand in his. He curled his body next to hers and reached out every night until she’d meet his hand, then he slept. They woke up together, and they walked together too. Fausti picked fruit and put an arrow through a partridge’s neck every so often while Quena told him stories. She said, “That was back whn Bachué was still with us,” or “That’s why hummingbirds’ necks are red,” or “So they made her watch as they sliced her lover’s ears, and then his nose and then his penis, and then they made her eat his heart,” and when Fausti would walk too far or lose himself in the track of some animals Quena would whistle a five note song so he could find his way back to her.
One day while they were walking Quena stopped suddenly. She saw the Sun setting and she caught a glimpse of the His golden hem. He was dressed entirely in gold and everything around him glimmered, refulgent and beautiful and Quena longed for it. Just one piece, she thought, one small piece in her hand to rub between her fingers while she watched Fausti climb a tree or make an arrow—that’d be enough.
“Fausti,” she said, “Fausti, how much I want some of the Sun’s gold. How much, I can’t even say.” And Fausti took a deep breath, because he knew that to scrape even a flake he would have become one of the most formidable hunters in the land. So he tightened the straps around his shoulders, kissed her a long time and set off to the east.
When he left, Quena found she couldn’t sleep without his hand in hers and slowly she began to die. She stopped sleeping and started crying. She became faint and pale and sick with all the nights she was awake and he wasn’t there. And then she wasn’t there either.
When Fausti finally came back he found an empty house, and an empty bed, and everywhere emptier than before. He walked out and yelled for her, he ran through the woods with a pouch full of gold hanging from his neck and yelling her name. He reached the town and yelled and yelled until someone finally led him to her grave, and then he got quiet. He curled up where her body lay buried and he didn’t move for eight days, like a beetle’s larvae, dug up and drying in the sun. He sobbed and he cried all eight days until the elder god couldn’t bare it anymore. “Fausti, Fausti.” The elder god called out to him in dream, “Fausti, listen to me,” and Fausti listened. When he woke up he rose from her grave and knowing what to do he began to dig.
He dug her up like the elder god had told him. He pulled her out, head and arms limp and bent softly back. He brushed the dirt from her eyes and hair and between her fingers, and then he began cutting. He took her leg and carved out skin and flesh, tendons and ligaments. He stuck his knife into her knee cap and then her hip socket. He pulled back and pushed forward and back and forward again until the bone was loose and he could rip out her femur.
“Like this, Fausti,” the god had said. “Carved thin and hollowed out, and makes holes down the spine, here, and here, and here, and here, and your fingers go here, and here, and here. And your lips. Your lips go here.” And when Fausti pressed the carved bone against his lips, covered the holes like the elder god had instructed and blew into it, he heard Quena’s voice again.
Lina Maria Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas graduated from BYU with a BA in English and is concurrently completing two MFA's at the University of Iowa in Creative Nonfiction and Literary Translation. She was born and raised in Bogota Colombia, translates from Spanish to English and is interested in untranslatable and linguistically unnegotiable.