The Trail of Your Blood in the Snow

Garcia Marquez, Gabriel

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Annotated by:
Miksanek, Tony
  • Date of entry: Aug-11-2005
  • Last revised: Dec-11-2006


Billy Sanchez and Nena Daconte, children of two wealthy Colombian families, fly to Europe to celebrate their honeymoon. Although married only three days, Nena is already two months pregnant. After she scrapes her ring finger on a rose thorn, the nearly imperceptible cut starts bleeding profusely. Nena is admitted to the intensive care unit of a Paris hospital. Visitation is permitted only one day a week so Billy must wait six days before he can see his wife again. He spends most of his time alone in a nearby hotel.

Billy tries to visit Nena sooner but is thrown out of the hospital by a security guard. Billy’s attempt to enlist the aid of the foreign embassy is equally unsuccessful. When Tuesday’s visiting hours finally arrive, Billy cannot locate his wife. He spots the physician who first evaluated Nena. The doctor regretfully announces that Nena bled to death sixty hours after hospital admission. No one could find Billy to apprise him of the situation so Nena’s parents have already arranged the funeral and transported the body home for burial. Billy exits the hospital with thoughts of violence and revenge for his calamity.


This short story calls to mind the works of Franz Kafka. The tragic death of a pregnant newlywed stemming from a simple scratch on her finger, the foreboding hospital with its ridiculous rules, and an omnipresent bureaucracy contribute to a sense of horror, anger, panic, and futility. Neither wealth nor youth are seen as safeguards against the whims of fate. Loneliness is to be feared at least as much as death. The concept of traveling is important. As a foreigner, Billy finds many things strange and even disorienting (culture, laws, accommodations, and language), but it is loss that he is most unfamiliar with.

The depiction of the hospital with its strict regulations, absurd visiting hours, and security guard clad in a bloodstained garment suggests comparisons with a fortress or prison. The gloomy and huge structure is both unfathomable and nearly impenetrable to outsiders (friends and relatives of the sick). The story also illustrates how communication breaks down, how doctors deliver bad news, and how, for the spouses of patients, hospitalization generates stress, confusion, and fear.


Translated from Spanish by Edith Grossman. The story was originally published in 1993 in Playboy.

Primary Source

Strange Pilgrims



Place Published

New York