jueves, 8 de enero de 2015

Adele and the Island

  Adele exhilarated but undoubtedly happy and eager to see and learn more. She was diving, not very deep but had been doing it now for about three hours and she had no intention to stop. So many beautiful creatures were there, so much natural magic that she had no intention of leaving, no matter what happened.

But at lunchtime, the rest of the team was famished and in need of food. Adele had to concede that she too was hungry and they all came back to port to have a nice dinner of shellfish and recently caught sea bass. It was delicious although it seemed weird to be eating a creature she had just seen swimming free in the ocean.

Adele was, in no way, a vegetarian or a vegan. She had no intention to be either. The woman knew that humans need to feed and it was natural to do it, as long as the resources were not depleted. In here, this small island just a few kilometers from the mainland, the consumption of fish and all other animals was controlled and they were very careful not to risk the environment, which actually gave them the money to keep their island pristine and beautiful.

The woman, aged 35 or so, had come here for good. She had visited the island several times with family, friends and past boyfriends and had decided she was meant to live there. She looked up for jobs in the island or near it and had found that the harbor restaurant needed a waitress and also someone who knew numbers to properly run the place. And Adele was just right for both jobs.

At first, Ron thought she was bluffing. He had established the restaurant twenty years ago and was very careful when hiring people to work there. He looked for people that not only worked but also loved the sea and respected the food. He had interviewed at least a dozen people, two dozens for both jobs and no one had caught her interest, until Adele came by.

She confessed she needed to get way from it all. The woman didn’t say her reasons for that but assured Ron that she knew how to make people feel welcome. Adele handled the owner of the restaurant her resume and told him she had worked with money before and had always been entrusted by her employers. As a matter of fact, she had never been laid off. She had always just moved on because, as she put it, she needed to keep on rolling.

Ron decided to hire her for both jobs but warned Adele that he needed both jobs taken care of very specially and that he wouldn’t be very happy if she left one for the other or left one of them unattended for long. He was sure she wasn’t going to be able to cope with both positions at the same time. It was simply too difficult.

But surprisingly, she managed to do it just fine. Adele was a dedicated person and, once she put her mind into something, she was unstoppable. She had decided to work the numbers when the orders got slow and even asked Ron if she could stay one more hour a day to leave everything in order. She rapidly picked up a nice pace in the establishment and was soon the preferred waitress of visitors and residents alike.

As she didn’t work the weekends, Adele spent them diving with the local enthusiasts that numbered around a dozen. They would leave in a rather small boat to a spot near the island, filled with fish and other creatures, thanks to the presence of a beautiful, unspoiled coral reef. For Adele, it was the best. She felt relaxed in the water. Besides, she also felt like an explorer, entering a new world each time.

What made her a great waitress too was the fact that she shared all of her diving stories with the people that came in the restaurant. Every dish they asked for was a short story told by Adele about a certain kind of fish or an interesting anecdote about diving. And people, most of them at least, really enjoyed her stories and even came back for more.

It was worrying, though, when she had no stories to tell or when she felt somehow “not there”. It happened rarely but Ron noticed it always happened towards the end of the month, the exact time when the mail boat would come into the island to deliver packages and letters. Any person living in the island that wanted a faster service could get a personal mailbox in the city in the mainland, at least sixty kilometers away.

When Ron asked Adele about why she seemed sad or simply away, she answered she would never put her two jobs aside. And so she did. Adele never let the work pile up, even in her “strange days”. She was a very responsible person. Anyway, Ron wasn’t asking her how she felt because of work but because he was worried about her. Both him and his wife had become very close to Adele and it hurt them that she had decided to be so private with her life, not telling them anything about it.

Eventually, they stopped asking him what went on with her mood at the end of each month. And it didn’t happen because they didn’t care but because they knew she would never say anything. So they just stopped and she didn’t even noticed. She kept on working and telling her stories and diving and being sad for no apparent reason.

That was until a letter came, almost one exact year after she had arrived to the island. Her many friends on the island, practically all the inhabitants of the small piece of land, were preparing her a party to celebrate her first year as an islander. The party was to feature the ocean, seafood and a case of beer specially brought from the mainland.

But that last letter changed that. The day of the party, she didn’t go to work. She wasn’t in the house in which she had been living in for the last few months and wasn’t diving anywhere near the island. Many people had seen her read the letter right in the harbor but, after that, no one really knew where she had gone.

Many said she had boarded the mail boat, arguing with the man that drove it but finally negotiating with money. Others were sure she had gone to the Big Tree, the only so called park the island had on it. It was really a small square of grass with, in the middle, a huge tree giving shadow to a couple of houses. It was a popular spot for lovers or people that wanted a peaceful place to think. Others said she had resumed working or gone to her house, but they were proven wrong very fast.

So, for many days, no one knew anything about Adele. Ron was especially upset, as she had left her two jobs hanging, for which he didn’t look for a replacement. He told his wife that he was sure Adele was going to come back, eventually. But as the time passed, that thought began to dissolve in time.

A young woman named Arisha replaced Adele as a waitress and Ron decided to take over the accounting duties. Anyway, the restaurant was fairly easy to handle and it was only during the holiday season that he really needed a lot of help to keep the place running properly. Anyway, Arisha was a very dedicated young lady and, although she wasn’t really experienced and didn’t tell any stories, she did the job right and was sure she could do better.

It was during the holiday season, in a really hot day, when the mail boat arrived and a letter addressed to Ron arrived to the restaurant. He was busy cooking some burgers so he only opened it at night, when he had done everything to make the holiday visitors happy. Walking home, he realized the letter was from Adele and quickly opened it, reading it outside his house.

In not so many words, Adele told him she was ashamed of herself and the way she had left the island, to the extent of leaving everything she had owned in the small house she had inhabited in. She told Ron that the reason why she had left had been simple: she couldn’t bear staying in one place too long. She had never liked that, even if she felt at peace and she certainly did in the island. Anyway, the real reason was that a former lover, a man she was going to marry once, would write her every month to tell her he still loved her deeply. She avoided him, even if she felt still guilty, until the last letter came in.

The man who loved her had suffered an accident and was in critical condition. Adele left everything to be with him but was not able to get there in time. He had died. She stayed, even if she wanted to live, to see him being buried and to see her family again. But that was just another signal to leave.

She wrote Ron from a ski resort and told him she would love to see him and all her other friends soon, in due time, once she felt she was strong enough.

-       “To be honest, I will never be strong enough for anything. I had no idea what I had around until I lost it because of fear and insecurities. Anyway I hope I see you again, wherever, whenever”.

Ron shared the letter with his wife and kept it in a drawer, waiting for the day he could see Adele again to talk and tell her it was ok to stop running, as no one had never been chasing her.

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