The short story "Preludes" by Daryll Delgado begins with the revelation that a singer dies after singing three songs at the death anniversary of another man. It then shifts to his wife, Nenita, who is at home at the time of his death, and then it flashes back to what she was doing before his death.
"Preludes" not only ends but also begins with the feeling of heat. Although the author refers to heat in various forms, all the manifestations of heat contribute to the emotional heat at the heart of the story. Nenita's husband has been committing adultery over and over. Although each time she takes him back and nurtures him, she also keeps handy in a hidden place a packet of poison powerful enough to "make his blood boil until his veins popped." At the end, Nenita considers that the weather is hot enough to make an old man's blood boil and his veins pop. Readers are left to wonder whether Nenita finally got fed up enough to give her husband the poison.
The first mention of heat is at the beginning of the story as the author describes the death anniversary celebration at which the singer dies. It is afternoon, the sun is high, and it is so hot that people absorb the heat internally. The music contributes to the heat people feel, implying that the heat is not just physical but emotional.
At home Nenita opens the window for a breeze before watching television, but the air is hot and dry. She falls asleep, dreams of being in the arms of a TV star, and wakes up sweating and feeling guilty. This is another manifestation of the heat, and we can see that it is connected to her conflicted emotions. She, too, longs for a lover, but unlike her husband, she is unable to follow through with her desires.
She then has a reverie about how her in-laws do not appreciate her and how she always takes her husband back after his infidelities. From this we understand her motivation for keeping poison at hand. The intensity, or heat, of the story is heightening as more of the couple's background is revealed. She keeps the poison close at hand so that she can "keep, see, touch, and feel" it. From this we realize that she has certainly contemplated ending her husband's life. In the end, the author does not disclose whether Nenita has poisoned him or he has died because of his defective heart. Either way, Nenita goes back into the house because it has become intolerably hot outside. We understand that even if she has not killed him, she will not be unhappy that he is dead.