Talking to Ourselves

Talking to Ourselves



The Pequod Review:

Mario has terminal cancer. He and his wife (Elena) have kept it a secret from their 10-year-old son (Lito). Talking to Ourselves consists of each family member taking turns sharing their feelings, and revealing their truest and at times most shameful thoughts.

Elena falls into a depression (“No one talks about the rights of the caregiver. Another person’s illness makes us ill. And so I’m in that truck with them, even though I’ve stayed at home.”) and later has an affair with Mario’s doctor. Mario decides to take Lito on a trip while Mario is still healthy, which turns bittersweet when a distracted Mario is unable to keep his mind in the present:

I could see, Lito, that you didn’t want to, or to go to bed, or anything, and while I was waiting for the change I started looking around at the guys in the bar, some of them were real young, and suddenly it struck me I would never see you that way, at that age, leaning on a bar, and then I had, I don’t know, a sort of attack from the future and I thought: Well, if I can’t wait, then why not now, and I went over and asked if you wanted a drink, I swear I would have let you have anything, whisky, tequila, vodka, anything, and you ordered a Fanta, and it was fantastic, maybe this was why we made the trip, to have a Fanta in a motel with hookers, and then everything was worth it, until that disturbed man came over, that phony magician.

Later, Elena reflects on Mario’s death:

When someone you slept with dies, you begin to doubt their body and yours. The once touched body withdraws from the hypothesis of a reencounter, it becomes unverifiable, may not have existed. Your own body loses substance. Your muscles fill with vapor, they don’t know what it was they were clutching. When someone with whom you have slept dies, you never sleep in the same way again. Your body doesn’t let itself go when it is in bed, your arms and legs open as though clinging to the rim of a well, trying not to fall in. It insists on waking up earlier, on making sure at least it possesses itself. When someone with whom you have slept dies, the caresses you gave their skin change direction, they go from relived presence to posthumous experience. There is a hint of salvation and a hint of violation about imagining that skin now. A posteriori necrophilia. The beauty that was once with us remains stuck to us. As does its fear. Its hurt.

This is rich analysis of each character's inner landscape. Recommended.