‘La asesina de insectos’ (The insect killer) by Rosa Montero

Rosa Montero is one of Spain’s best-known columnists. She started working at El País in 1976, the year after General Franco’s death, and her career has run in parallel with the development of Spain’s democracy. Montero’s writing often reflects the mores of post-Franco Spain, although she has turned her sights on Britain, too. Recently she wrote that “I have always been a great anglophile, but now I see the British turning against history and submerging themselves in a reactionary chaos.”

This story was commissioned for a Spanish anthology marking the turn of the millennium, and describes inter-generational friction, but not of the usual kind. Marina and Juan are children of the dictatorship and spent their youths on demonstrations or running away from police, young hippies in full rebellion against their parents and the establishment. Now neither of them can get work, while their son Carlos has become the reincarnation of his bourgeois grandfather, a “grey suit man with tame ideas”. He’s considerate, responsible and fluent in English to the standard obligatory now for anyone wanting a well-paid job in Spain. He supports both his parents, who find the role-reversal hard to take. They grew up fighting the system; their son has become a slave to it.

First published in Relatos para un fin de milenio, Plaza Janés, 1998