Today Is Yesterday

translated by Frances Riddle
A photograph of a dimly lit nook in an apartment where a writing desk is set up
Photo by Ehud Neuhaus /

Time is an assassin. There are days that occur in the past. Today, for example, a January Monday in 2019, the sky stretched out like a blue sheet. Yesterday I saw a park submerged in a green veil of emerald light that fish could’ve swum in. I laughed out loud, ate strange stews, drank. But nevertheless today is a winter Sunday in 1986. Recently arrived in Buenos Aires—not a city but a dangerous miracle, buzzing with electricity like a tract of unequal promises—I lived alone, and on summer nights I liked to sleep on the floor, the window open, watching bad movies on channel 13 past midnight. I didn’t have a washing machine, my fridge didn’t keep things cold, I never tired of being out on the streets, of going to the movies. I walked no-man’s-lands with my hands in the pockets of my black leather jacket, my Batman costume that did nothing to protect me, saying to myself: “This is an adventure; this is what you came for. Don’t be afraid.” I chatted with drunks and beggars. I went down into dives damp as a throat where powdered trans women shouted poetry like blasphemous fiends. But sometimes, often, the days were merely a slow march toward the night, one endless hour after another, filled with emptiness. I lived in agony, surrounded by a swollen, cancerous silence, with no affection, no peace. From my window I watched the balconies across the street as the lights came on and the families sat around the dinner tables, while I boiled rice or opened a can of sardines. On those days, things erupted inside me, turned to an ashy and inconsolable night. Everything was still yet to happen and nothing seemed possible. Today, now that everything has happened, I do the only thing I can. I lower the sails. I hold on tight. 

Buenos Aires
Translation from the Spanish

Leila Guerriero (b. 1967) is a journalist and editor whose work regularly appears in Spanish and Latin American publications (see WLT, Sept. 2022, 27). She has received numerous prizes, including the Gabriel Garcia Márquez Journalism Award, and is the author of over a dozen books, including A Simple Story. Her writing has been translated into multiple languages. 

Frances Riddle has translated many Spanish-language authors including Isabel Allende, Claudia Piñeiro, Leila Guerriero, and Sara Gallardo. Her translation of Elena Knows, by Claudia Piñeiro, was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize and the Queen Sofía Translation Prize in 2022, and her translation of Theatre of War, by Andrea Jeftanovic, was granted an English PEN Award in 2020.