Fernando stared at the painting. It stared, or so it seemed, back at him. Shivers shot up his spine and if you were to accuse him of taking a step back, Fernando would have been quick to reassure you that it was a most manly step backwards. “Lety, I’m not, how to say it, exactly wild about you buying that thing. Much less with you hanging it up.” He gave it another good, hard look. “God, it’s like—“
Lety joined him at his side and wrapped an arm around his waist, giving him a quick, affectionate squeeze. He was so happy (and, god, he still got ridiculously tinkled pink every time she came near; he prayed to never stop feeling that way) that he almost didn’t notice her smiling fondly at the painting. Almost. “I know what it’s like. That’s exactly why I got the church to give it to us. This way, it’ll be as if Aldo is always watching over us.”
Fernando might have hissed. It’s hard to say, because only Lety was there to witness any hissing and she would have defended him of any such behavior if asked. “I don’t want Domenzaín watching over us.”
“I married you,” she reminded him, as she already had many, many times. It wasn’t something either one would forget anytime soon, but they both liked to hear it said, over and over. “And you’re not allowed to turn this one upside down, like you keep doing with the seashell painting Aldo gave me. And, yes, I know about that.”
He crossed his eyes, hoping that that would make the Aldo-saint easier on his vision. But even with crossed eyes it still looked as if Aldo had secretly been a selfless, divine, well-meaning being sent to earth to make Fernando’s life hell. “Oh, c’mon, Lety, pleeeeease.”
“No,” Lety said firmly, “It would be as if our entire house were upside-down.” She giggled, hand over mouth: hee-hee-hee.
“We’re kinda upside-down, aren’t we?” Fernando contemplated. “Relatively, I mean.”
“If we were, and if you had it your way, then all of Aldo’s paintings would be right-side up, by your logic.”
Fernando had to let go of Lety and sit down. All this philosophy was making his head hurt. Aldo was right-side up? He kinda was, wasn’t he, what with his intolerable goodness and generosity. But a guy that self-sacrificing and angelic had to have something wrong with him, it just wasn’t natural. So even compared with Fernando he’d be the one upside down by normal standards, right?
Fernando wasn’t good with philosophy. He had gone into media studies for a reason, and it wasn’t just because he wanted to inherit Conceptos. “If you’d just throw them out, we wouldn’t have these head-ache inducing conversations!”
“You’re the one thinking too hard,” Lety admonished, “And the paintings stay. Aldo saved my life, and if it weren’t him, he’d be the one I’d be married to, not you. A few reminders is the least I can do.”
“I bet he doesn’t hang mementos of you around his house,” Fernando muttered. And he would bet on that. He’d never seen any such things in Aldo’s office at Conceptos, not even when he was engaged to Lety and should have been using every opportunity to rub it in the world’s, that is, Fernando’s, face.
“Probably not,” Lety agreed, “but he’s a better person than I am. He doesn’t need physical objects to remember.”
With a big, martyred sigh (Fernando learned a thing or two from Aldo: a bit of sacrifice goes a long way), he said, “All right. We’ll have it your way—on one condition.”
“Really? What condition?”
He motioned for her to come closer, and she did, leaning over so that they were nose-to-nose. He traced a line above her lip. “If you’ll grow your moustache back—“
She snapped back up. “Not that tired old argument again—“
“But, Lety, you’re so much prettier--“
Aldo’s two paintings ended up permanently upside-down. If, as Lety had suggested, that meant that they were actually upside-right, what with the newlywed Mendiolas being inherently upside-down, Fernando was okay with that. Because, no matter how you looked at it, Fernando was married to the woman he loved.