HUSBAND IN TRANSLATION
He returns every evening at 6 p.m. and asks if she’s found a job yet. She has a part-time job, but it isn’t enough. Her husband expects her to work in a respectable office and wear high heels every day. He has a fantasy of them meeting at a pub for happy hour, both of them exhausted and full of work drama. Their twin martinis escape valves, sour tonics.
The climate in the apartment escalates until she dreads 6 p.m., the question, her shrug that betrays her indifference.
“I applied to two more jobs today,” she sometimes volunteers.
“When you’re looking for a job, applying becomes your job. Why are you not treating it like a job?”
“Well,” she explains, “because I work part-time and often marinate chicken when I get home, so we can eat together.”
After a string of identical weeks, her dreams become strange theater soliloquies. On stage, she reflects and rages, a blinding spotlight tracking her every step.
Their bills bulk into bullies, so she continues to apply for more office jobs. Positions to answer phones, update databases, interact with professors, delegates or philanthropists. She writes impeccable cover letters, brimming with enthusiasm, yet no one calls. Occasionally she receives emails informing her that [company name] is no longer pursing her candidacy. Such notices elate and panic her. This means the road ahead is endless: more applications, cover letters, hours robbed of her day.
Throughout her life, she’s had many full-time jobs, though never in an office. Her best position was as a museum curator in Buenos Aires. As the only fully bilingual employee, she was often intercepted and asked to translate.
Q: How do you say tacones?
A: High heels.
Q: How do you say un marido fastidioso?
A: Annoying husband.
Q: How do you say déjame en paz?
A: Get off my back.
URSULA VILLARREAL MOURA was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Her stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in Tin House online, Catapult, Prairie Schooner, Nashville Review, Washington Square, WhiskeyPaper, Bennington Review, Wigleaf Top 50, and Hobart. Her writing has been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, a Pushcart Prize and long-listed for Best American Short Stories 2015. For more info, visit www.ursulavillarrealmoura.com.