One Hundred Years of Solitude - Chapter 20


   Gaston had returned to Brussels. Tired of waiting for the airplane, one day he put his indispensable things into a small suitcase, took his file of correspondence, and left with the idea of returning by air before his concession was turned over to a group of German pilots who had presented the provincial authorities with a more ambitious project than his. Since the afternoon of their first love, Aureliano and Amaranta ?rsula had continued taking advantage of her husband’s rare unguarded moments, making love with gagged ardor in chance meetings and almost always interrupted by unexpected returns. But when they saw themselves alone in the house they succumbed to the delirium of lovers who were making up for lost time. It was a mad passion, unhinging, which made Fernanda’s bones tremble with horror in her grave and which kept them in a state of perpetual excitement. Amaranta ?rsula’s shrieks, her songs of agony would break out the same at two in the afternoon on the dining-room table as at two in the morning in the pantry. “What hurts me most,?she would say, laughing, “is all the time that we wasted.?In the bewilderment of passion she watched the ants devastating the garden, sating their prehistoric hunger with the beam of the house, and she watched the torrents of living lava take over the porch again, but she bothered to fight them only when she found them in her bedroom. Aureliano abandoned the parchments, did not leave the house again, and carelessly answered the letters from the wise Catalonian. They lost their sense of reality, the notion of time, the rhythm of daily habits. They closed the doors and windows again so as not to waste time getting undressed and they walked about the house as Remedios the Beauty had wanted to do and they would roll around naked in the mud of the courtyard, and one afternoon they almost drowned as they made love in the cistern. In a short time they did more damage than the red ants: they destroyed the furniture in the parlor, in their madness they tore to shreds the hammock that had resisted the sad bivouac loves of Colonel Aureliano Buendía and they disemboweled the mattresses and emptied them on the floor as they suffocated in storms of cotton. Although Aureliano was just as ferocious a lover as his rival, it was Amaranta ?rsula who ruled in that paradise of disaster with her mad genius and her lyrical voracity, as if she had concentrated in her love the unconquerable energy that her great-great-grandmother had given to the making of little candy animals. And yet, while she was singing with pleasure and dying with laughter over her own inventions, Aureliano was becoming more and more absorbed and silent, for his passion was self-centered and burning. Nevertheless, they both reached such extremes of virtuosity that when they became exhausted from excitement, they would take advantage of their fatigue. They would give themselves over to the worship of their bodies, discovering that the rest periods of love had unexplored possibilities, much richer than those of desire. While he would rub Amaranta ?rsula’s erect breasts with egg whites or smooth her elastic thighs and peach-like stomach with cocoa butter, she would play with Aureliano’s portentous creature as if it were a doll and would paint clown’s eyes on it with her lipstick and give it a Turk’s mustache with her eyebrow pencil, and would put on organza bow ties and little tinfoil hats. One night they daubed themselves from head to toe with peach jam and licked each other like dogs and made mad love on the floor of the porch, and they were awakened by a torrent of carnivorous ants who were ready to eat them alive.