If it weren’t for Beth’s birthday it would be a Tuesday like the others, but it was her 30th birthday. She woke up, like every other day of the year, in her small apartment in São Paulo. She put on the first panties she saw and chose her usual bra. Starting with the feet stretching towards the thighs, he put on the thin, not-so-thin, black stocking. Her little beet dress and the cardigan, which she would carry in her hands, mustard. In one gulp, he took only his half-watered coffee and, half-choked, ate bread and butter. At the door, in a hurry, a little awkward, she found space in her arms and hands to carry, not only her cardigan, but her purse, newspaper and cell phone. He put on his black sneaker and left, his heart pounding in such a hurry. At the bus stop I waited for his that was slow to pass. When he arrived, he sighed with relief and entered. He arrived at the publisher where he worked late, as usual. He threw the mustard cardigan, bag, newspaper and cell phone on the table. He started to correct the essays he would have to deliver that day. They were the most diverse texts, on the most diverse subjects, with the most diverse grammatical problems. With each accent she had to correct, or each hyphen she had to update, she cursed the new spelling agreement that she reportedly disagreed with. In the middle of the morning, after sitting for a few hours, she got up to stretch her spine and drink some water. Suddenly she felt strange, very strange. From 11 am on that cloudy day, but not so much as to be able to put on his mustard cardigan, he realized that it would be difficult to blow out the candle of his heavy and frustrated 30 years. He thought he was ripe to worry about cake, candles and the like. He wondered if he would celebrate and if there were enough friends to share an entire cake. He tried to concentrate on the newsrooms, but the crisis was so great that it seemed greater than the disgust with the orthographic agreement, or greater than any other problem he had ever thought of having. The agony was such that he considered not buying a birthday cake. He thought about everything he would do or would be at 30 and understood that he didn’t want to be that woman. I didn’t want to live that life of heart palpitations, nor to have that thin body of so many cakes that it deprived itself to eat in parties of people who were not even that friendly. He left work, took the crowded bus and a heavy rain. Her mustard-soaked cardigan turned brown and, between her breasts, her cell phone seemed to be sheltered from the rain. She ran to keep from getting wet. But that night I didn’t want to be afraid of the rain. He realized that he had run the past 30 years in the wrong direction. Undaunted, she walked home. This time he didn’t buy the birthday cake. She made it herself and it didn’t look pretty, nor so tasty. She did not sing congratulations, but lit a candle, blew and ate alone. At the end of the night, he called his mother, who lived in the countryside, and said he was happy, celebrating his day among friends. He also said that going to São Paulo was the best choice and that it was done. Lied! But he lied because he was big enough to worry a mother. He hung up the phone, turned off the light and, even with thousands of other windows lit, tried to sleep. The cake weighed on his stomach, no more than age on his back.
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