In the shattered schoolhouse where for the first time he had felt the security of power, a few feet from the room where he had come to know the uncertainty of love, Arcadio found the formality of death ridiculous. Death really did not matter to him but life did, and therefore the sensation he felt when they gave their decision was not a feeling of fear but of nostalgia.
Impassive, without even worrying about making a show of his recent bravery, he listened to the interminable charges of the accusation. He thought about Úrsula, who at that hour must have been at the chestnut tree having coffee with José Arcadio Buendía. He thought about his eight-month-old daughter, who still had no name, and about the child who was going to be born in August. He thought about Sofía de la Piedad, whom he had left the night before salting down a deer for next day’s lunch, and he missed her hair pouring over her shoulders and her eyelashes which looked as if they were artificial. He thought about his people without sentimentality, with a strict closing of his accounts with life, beginning to understand how much he really loved the people he hated most.
They kept a clean and neat house. Rebeca would open it wide at dawn and the wind from the graveyard would come in through the windows and go out through the doors to the yard and leave the whitewashed walls and furniture tanned by the saltpeter of the dead. Her hunger for earth, the cloc-cloc-cloc of her parents’ bones, the impatience of her blood as it faced Pietro Crespi’s passivity were relegated to the attic of her memory.
They had put together a delightful album with the postcards that Pietro Crespi received from Italy. They were pictures of lovers in lonely parks, with vignettes of hearts pierced with arrows and golden ribbons held by doves. ‘I’ve been to this park in Florence,’ Pietro Crespi would say, going through the cards. ‘A person can put out his hand the birds will come to feed.’ Sometimes, over a watercolor of Venice, nostalgia would transform the smell of mud and putrefying shellfish of the canals into the warm aroma of flowers.