Issue #80

Fall 2021

A Borges Dream

by Marcelo Medone

Borges crosses San Martín Square, in the heart of Buenos Aires, walking slowly, helped by his cane. He's been blind for a long time, but he knows his route by heart. He comes to the door of his building on Maipú Street and the janitor shows him in.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Jorge Luis."

"Good afternoon, friend," replies the writer and heads for the elevator.

"I'll help you, don."

"No, thanks. Let me handle myself."

When he reaches the ninth floor, Borges takes a few steps and reaches his apartment. He comes in, puts down his cane and goes to the living room. He pours himself a glass of whisky and leans back in his favorite armchair, the one by the window that overlooks the street, even though he can't see anything outside. The world is a yellow blur.

Shortly after, María Kodama, his girlfriend, guide and reader for the last years, arrives. Reader because she reads to Borges the pages that he no longer sees. And, also, the one who takes notes on the texts that Jorge Luis masterfully produces in his brain and dictates with unhurried fervor.

María asks him, "How are you, Georgie?" while kissing him on the forehead.

"Fine, dear."

"I see you've already had a drink."

"You can keep me company if you please."

"No, thanks. But if you want, I'll read you something."

"There is nothing I would like more than that."

While Borges empties what remains of his whisky, María goes to one of the shelves where the books that Borges wrote, translated or edited are placed. She finds a new edition, with a modern cover, of The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, prefaced and translated by him.

She takes it and says, "We can read The Metamorphosis one more time."

"I would love to hear again, from your lips, the story of Gregor."

Then, María makes herself comfortable in a chair next to her beloved Georgie and begins to read aloud in her calm voice: "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect ..."

Almost immediately, Borges rests his head on the back of the armchair and falls fast asleep. María closes the book, stands up, takes off his shoes, brings a small blanket and covers his knees and feet with it. She takes the empty whisky glass from him and then heads to her room.

Borges dreams of Gregor Samsa, his sister Grete, the beautiful old town of Prague, Vienna and Geneva, cities so dear to him.

In turn, Gregor Samsa wakes up in Borges's dream. He has had a restless night, in which he has slept uneasily, chased by monstrous insects.

To his horror, he wakes up in his worst nightmare: a huge beetle. The realization that he is a prisoner in Borges's dream does not reassure him at all because Gregor is trapped inside the body of a giant insect in the first place.

But, to his amazement, Gregor discovers that he is dreamed by another Borges who dreams of Borges dreaming of Gregor, who in turn is dreamed by another Borges and this one by another, in a sort of infinite succession of Chinese boxes, of endless mirrors.

Suddenly, Gregor, imbued with Borges's thought, has a revelation that gives him the solution to his existential problem. Surely his transformation was due to the fact that at some point he has drunk from the waters of a magical river, with preternatural powers. He has to travel the world in his dream, which is also Borges's dream, and drink water from each of the world's rivers until he finds the original one, the spring that conceals his healing in his bosom and thus allows him to cease being a nightmarish insect and regain his human form.

We don't know if Gregor achieved his purpose. Some say that somewhere, a lonely Borges continues to dream.

Author Bio


Marcelo Medone was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1961. He is a fiction writer, poet and screenwriter. His fiction and poetry have received awards and have been published in magazines and books, both in digital and paper format, individually or in anthologies, in various languages in more than 30 countries all over the world. His first book, Nada Menos Que Juan (Nothing Less Than John), an illustrated story of the fantasy genre, won an international award and was published in 2010 in Spanish and Portuguese. He is a devotee of short stories and flash fiction. His most admired writers are Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Julio Cortázar and Gabriel García Márquez. He currently lives in San Fernando, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Facebook: Marcelo Medone / Instagram: @marcelomedone. His "Five Stories" appeared in Issue #78 of The Cafe Irreal. "A Borges Dream" is to be included in a forthcoming anthology linking Kafka and Borges, edited by Sergio Gaut vel Hartman.