Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta change. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta change. Mostrar todas las entradas

viernes, 20 de abril de 2018

Lessons in the ice

   I would always spend my winters in my friend Robert’s cabin, in the woods just north of the Northern Lake. His family never used it on such windy and cold months but I needed that time to be alone and be able to think for once, about my life, decisions and so on. My family lived far away and I didn’t have any money to go and visit them, so I would pack my laptop and portable Wi-Fi and just cold them from the cabin on Christmas day to wish them all a happy day and talk to them for a while.

 The reason I liked the cabin, or at least the main one, was that the lake was just a few minutes away by walking. Part of it would freeze but the other half would stay liquid because of a strong current coming from a river that traverse the body of water. The part of the lake nearest to the cabin was the one that was always frozen, and I would practice my jumps and twists right there. I would do it for hours, never fearing that the ice would break beneath my feet or that I could be attacked by a feral animal.

 I had grown to know the lake deeply, so I knew very well that the ice was at its thickest when I visited, almost a meter thick at times. That was more than enough for me to spend hours and hours practicing. My skating was getting sloppy and I couldn’t do the things that I was famous for several years before, when I first entered the ice skating circuit. I had been labeled a “star” and “the next best thing to come out of ice skating”. There were gifts and praise and flowers and all kinds of beautiful moments.

 But that had happened then and this was now. Me gliding on the ice, jumping and trying to make a good figure, just to be stopped in the middle of the air by my weight or my stupid feet. I seemed to have lost my form in a matter of a few years and coming back now was going to be the most difficult thing ever. I had made the decision to try my best to make a comeback, a last attempt at glory before I entered well into my thirties. That’s the magical number that you cannot go over, not in this world.

 I had checked out every single competitor I was going to have and they were all much younger than me. The prodigy of the group was a kid that was more than ten years younger, with a small stature and slender body, he was sure to make a big impression in any contest. I needed to work a lot to get to that level, to even get near what the others were doing. No one cared that I had won so many awards years ago. They didn’t care if they had been gold, silver or bronze. I wasn’t in their landscape at all. I was just a memory of a past that wasn’t that old.

 I worked out every single day in the cabin, just after having a small breakfast. I would jog around the woods and do sit-ups and pull-ups and every single kind of exercise to make my body what it had used to be. It hurt a lot and it there were many moments in which I wanted to drop it all and just go back to what I had been doing for the past year and a half. Working at the supermarket and as a cashier in the local skating rink was not bad at all. It helped pay the bills at least. But I needed more.

 Telling anyone about my plans was out of the question. Even after sending my papers to inscribe my name for the upcoming events, no one had notice that I was there, trying to make a comeback. They would only notice me once I stepped in the ice once again to reclaim my throne or at least make a decent attempt at it. I hadn’t told my family or anyone else. No one needed to know about what I wanted to do with the next few years of my life. They wouldn’t understand why I just need to do it.

 Maybe if I had a friend, I would tell them what was going on in my head the moment I decided to go back to such a difficult sports life. But I don’t have any because everyone left me after I stopped being famous and a success. And those who didn’t leave me were alienated by the person I became after I hung up my skates to pursue a more “normal” life. They were disappointed in me and got fed up of my negative attitude towards life. I have always said that I would never hold that against them.

 Sometimes, at night, I wonder about what those people think now that I’m planning to come back to the competitions. Are they going to be still mad at me for leaving everything in the first place or are they going to silently cheer me on? Well, I’m never going to know that but it’s not important. I need to do this whatever the results may be and no matter how difficult it can get. And it’s already pretty hard so I guess things are going to be pretty messy. But that’s the challenge I accepted.

 When winter is over, I will go back to the city and start practicing on a proper ice rink and then the trials and competitions will begin. Everyone will know I’m trying to get back to the top and then everything will become even harder. But I trust I can push through and just get to a point were I get to enjoy skating again. I want to feel what I felt all those years ago, because it was the best feeling ever. It was like walking on clouds and being able to fly over everyone else, doing something most people would only dream about. It felt so special and magical, a one of a kind sensation.

 But before that, I need to get back in shape, I need to be able to be that person I once was or at least someone very similar. I have to learn from the mistakes I made back then and also make new ones, because no one is perfect and there’s no way I’m going to step on those competitions thinking I’m better than others just because I have been there before. No, I need to know that I’m starting over, from the bottom. I need to make the trip to the top with all the dangers and difficulties, because that’s the only way I can do this right.

 Sometimes, I can already feel the rush through my body, going up from the skates to my hair, rushing with my blood which is warmed by the simple power that you feel when you’re doing something that makes you feel unique and present in this world. That one of a kind feeling.

 But then I fell, flat on my ass, hitting myself once and again and again, against the hard and cold ice. I see my body covered in cuts and bruises and I realize I’m just beginning. There’s still a long way to go for me but I do not mind at all. I want to get to the finish line. I need to get there.

miércoles, 14 de marzo de 2018

La Vérriere

  The sound of a piano being played could be heard on the staircase that led to the each one of the seven floors that made up the building. In each floor, there were two doors: one for each apartment. Nevertheless, not all of the apartments in the Vérriere building were used as homes. Some of them were offices and others, like 7B in the upper most floor, had been in use for thirty years as a teaching hall of music. Some days you could hear a piano, some others a violin or even a flute.

 Below 7B lived an elderly couple, Ava and Michael. They had been living in Paris for almost seventy years, from the day they had visited as a recently married couple and had fallen in love almost instantly with the city. They loved the architecture and the vibrant artistic movements that you could see and feel all around. And the food, of course, was one of the big reasons for them to stay, as Michael had always wanted to become a professional pastry chef, and Paris was the perfect city to achieve that.

 They decided to move into the Vérriere less than a month after their marriage and announced their decision to family members and friends back home in England with a postcard of the city seen from the Eiffel Tower. Of course, everyone was surprised by their sudden decision. Yes, maybe Michael had always wanted to be a chef and he loved everything that had to do with pastries and bread, but they no one really thought he would follow the dream. And Ava… she was much too young.

 When they moved, Ava was seventeen years old and Michael was nineteen. They started working right away, Michael in a bakery and Ava in a bank. They didn’t ask for experience back then, just the language, which they had to learn bit by bit at nights. It was a hard life for a long time but they eventually moved up in their respective fields. Michael got enough money to enter school and become the chef he always wanted to be and Ava was able to be the accountant of a very prestigious chain of stores.

 Now, Ava and Michael are in their early eighties. They are still in love with each other and they rarely leave their apartment, for which they paid rent for many years but they were eventually able to buy it, as the owner had became a great friend of the both of them. They had two children; now living in the country they had both came from. Somehow, the love the couple had for the city had not being transmitted to their children. They rarely visited, the only foreign sound in the apartment coming from the music lessons above, which were an entertainment for them, more than a nuisance.

 In the middle of the building, in 4A, lived a young man that had recently moved from an eastern European country. It was almost a year ago that he had entered the building, only to check it out with a friend. But they hadn’t been looking for an apartment to live in. His friend ran a production company that produced pornographic content on the Internet and he was looking for a place that looked old and could be used to set various types of productions, somewhere versatile they could use.

 Both of them loved it but Karl, the boy with a thick accent, was truly enthralled with everything about the location. He liked every single little details like the door handles and the sink appliances, but he also loved the views from the windows and the fact that there were very well lit rooms and other one that seemed flooded with darkness. The high ceiling and beautiful wallpaper sold the deal for him. His friend, however, thought the place was a little pricey and that’s when Karl proposed a deal to him.

 Karl would give money to his friend, in order to cover the price of rent, but with the condition he would be able to live there, use it as his home. His friend was doubtful because he knew it could get annoying if someone lived there and a filming crew would suddenly need one of the rooms for a movie. But Karl assured him he was very used to the whole filming scene, being an actor himself, so he assured nothing would go wrong and no problems would show their ugly heads.

 Actually, he said that not being sure of anything, only knowing he just wanted to live there. But he eventually realized he had been correct: the place was not only perfect to live as it was huge and conveniently located, but it proved to be a great setting for lots of movies. Karl even participated in some of them. The incredible surprise was that the building was so sturdy, that people were not able to hear anything on the other floors. And the fact that there were offices around was even better for them.

 Eventually, Karl met a nice young man like himself during another location scouting. They talked and dated for several months until he asked him to move in with him. Karl’s friend eventually found other locations and he eventually stopped using the apartment in the Vérriere building for his films. The place turned into the home of Karl and his boyfriend, who would eventually become his husband. They made great friends in the building, including the elderly couple made by Ava and Michael but also the dozens of cats that Mrs. Laffite had taken in.

 She lived in the only apartment located on the ground floor. She was the person in charge of getting the building clean, on the outside and the inside. Mrs. Laffite was also the only person to have an actual garden in the building, complete with a small bench to sit down and several plants that made her home look like something of an anomaly for such a huge city. Nevertheless, she wasn’t the most sociable person ever, so most people didn’t even know about her beautiful apartment.

 Sometimes called Lala by other people living there, she had surrounded herself with dozens of cats. It was common to see her entering the building holding one or two cats on her hands, just as if she had came into the building with two bags of groceries or something. She always brought in new kitties, mostly strays that she found around the marketplace and other corners of the city she liked to walk around. Granted, she never went to far from the building and never spent more than two hours outside.

 The rest of the day was spent inside her house and sometimes standing in the frame of her door telling the cleaning lady how to do her job. There was always a different woman or man cleaning the place, as she grew impatient with them very fast. She never liked how they clean, how not thorough they were. She trembled when thinking about their homes, and how dust and dirt would be slowly accumulating in corners and under the furniture. Lala was a big germophobe, odd for such a cat lover.

 When someone talked to her, saying “Hi” or something, she always responded by nodding. If people started talking more, she continued answering with head movements and other gestures. It wasn’t that she couldn’t talk but she simply didn’t like to interact with people. And those who had been living there for a few months already knew how to handle her situation. And they didn’t mind and she didn’t really mind any of them, she didn’t really care too much to be very honest.

 Her happiest moment was being in her garden, tending to her plants. She would sing to them and that was the only time some of her tenants were able to hear actual words coming out of her mouth. Her voice was beautiful, soothing and simply magnificent.

 La Vérriere was a building filled with so many people from different backgrounds, doing different things and having different thoughts. It was pretty much as any other building in the world. A place where everything and nothing meets at the same time.

viernes, 2 de febrero de 2018

Broken home

   Shaving had always been one of those things to do when things were about to change. For many people, it wasn’t like that. Most people would never do something like a ceremony to move from one place to the other. But Phillip was not like every person. He had always felt different from others even when he was certain there was nothing really special about him. Nothing at all. However, he felt he needed to shave before leaving his parents home for good. It felt like the right thing to do.

 As he was doing it, he realized he hadn’t shaved in a long time. The last time he had, another change had come to his life. He had done it after formally entering a relationship that didn’t last very long. Phillip found it funny that people talked about one, two or even five-year relationships. He had no idea what that was like or if it was even a real thing. Being together for that long wasn’t the difficult part, but being interested in the other person for that period of time seemed excessive to him.

 Then again, he really didn’t know any better. When thinking about his parents home, it has to be clarified he was talking about a place were both his parents lived but had decided to do it in separate rooms, with their lives almost completely apart except for the obvious part of living together. But he had seen, for the last two years, how they had transferred from being a couple that was always fighting, to a pair of people that would rarely even speak to each other, let alone fight.

 They had decided to divorce a long time ago, but the process had become stalled do to several complications with many documents that they had to fix with the law, one by one. Any time now, they would be divorced for good and his father would leave the house to finally start a new life on his own. At least that was what he told Phillip in numerous times, as if his son had any interest in what he was going to do next. Frankly, the kid only wanted to get away form all that madness.

 He had achieved that by sending documents and filling forms for every single university he could find on the Internet. Not only colleges in his country but also abroad and with programs longer than four years. He really wanted to go away, to experience something new and different. Who knows? Maybe he would be able to find some really needed stability away from his crazy parents and from the person he had always been. Because he was also one of the problems he faces in life. Phillip had an issue with his lack of passion for anything other than getting away from his parents.

 He had tried though, a lot. In his last two years of school, Phillip had decided to try lots of new things and, thankfully, his school was a very good place to do that. He could include at least two classes each year that had nothing to do with the mandatory assignments. So he still had to go to math and physics class, but he was also able to attend some cooking classes, karate, football and even the woodwork workshop. He attended every single class until the end but the real results were very mixed.

 In cooking class, he had a tough time with the amounts of every ingredient he had to put into each concoction. He followed the recipe word by word but that didn’t seem like a good strategy because his creations would always taste awful or burn in the oven or something would happen. Phillip had to apologize to the teacher several times until he grew tired of doing that and he just tried to fix every single one of his failed attempts at making something edible. The teacher realized he tried, at least.

 In karate, he had the most fun out of all the classes. It came as a surprise to him that he was very strong in all the right ways for such a sport. The bad thing was that he wasn’t really able to channel that strength like he was supposed to. That meant that, although he could do all the exercises the trainer demanded from him, Phillip was the culprit of about five broken noses and several kicks that had left his opponents without any air and wanting to go urgently to the nurse’s office.

 In football, he realized he was out of his element the moment he put on the uniform. He felt strange and clumsy, which was kind of a premonition of his performance in every training session that season. He was so awful at even walking around the field, that the team’s coach decided to assign him as water boy for the remainder of the year. He was teased a lot because of that but at least that guaranteed him a good grade, which was all he really needed at the end of the day.

 Finally, it has to be said that Phillip really liked the woodshop. He was in his element when using the machines, because he was doing it all on his own. Unlike in the kitchen, he felt being alone there was relaxing and really a good way to spend the time. The only thing was his creations were never what the teacher wanted. He never really knew if he was bad at it or if it was all about that bald man not liking what he did just because. He got an average grade again and also the sense that people don’t really give a shit about how you do anything in this world.

 When the acceptance letters began to arrive, Phillip wasn’t surprised that the first two had been rejection letters. They all began in the same way, praising the idiot that had spend hours filling forms, only to say at the end that he wasn’t what they were looking for. Reading those letters, he wondered why would anyone spend so much paper only to say “no”. It would a lot easier to just send an email with the word “NO” and the words “rejection from this college” in the subject section.

 The third one was an acceptance, which was kind of exciting, but it was a college he didn’t even remembered reading about. Letters poured in for about two weeks. After that, he had received sixteen rejection letters and four acceptance ones. Three of the acceptance ones came from schools fairly close to home. Only one was from a university abroad that offered various programs but nothing that he was really interested about. He looked at their website for our but couldn’t make up his mind.

 That was until his birthday, the day his parents had agreed to behave like normal human beings. Or at least that was what was supposed to happen. Instead, it became the first time in two years that they engaged in fighting, this time over the size of the portions they should serve of the birthday cake. Phillip had so many feeling trapped up inside of him, that he just spouted out that he was about to leave them for good and that he was very happy he would probably never see either of them again.

 You see, Phillip’s parents had given him as a present a bank account with years of savings on his name. They had planned that since he was a baby, in order to give him the best education they could. It amazed him that they were able to do it, knowing how much they hated each other. The point was that he had the money to do with it whatever he wanted and, right then and there, he only wanted to run away from their crazy ways and every single thing that reminded him of them.

 For months, he prepared everything to leave the country. He finally decided on some career, not even knowing if it was the right choice. He made all the payments, got a place to live in and even tried to get a job at his destination, soon to be his home.

 The day he left, his parents agreed to take him together to the airport. Right before crossing the security checks, he apologized to them and told them he wanted to say “Thank you” for their efforts and also that they were finally free. And so was him.

viernes, 15 de diciembre de 2017

Resistance and downfall

   When the dust settled, there was nothing to rally behind of, nothing to support us another day, not a rock or a person. There was nothing. When they blew it up, they destroyed everything we had believed in for so long. It was a strike deep in our hearts, resonating thousand of kilometers in every direction, where many others would also feel that hope had died and darkness had descended upon us to stay. We were in such disbelief, that they took advantage of our pain to come and destroy us.

 Those men and women were not the kind to take prisoners or to torture. They just killed every single person that tried anything against them and they had the best memory to ensure they would never forget how someone had wronged them. And that was what we had done. They had been the predominant power in the universe and we had tried to take them down, we had tried to stop them from making us penetrate into the abyss they wanted everyone to be in and they didn’t like us doing that.

 For a time, before all of this happened, we lived a life of relative peace and quiet. It would be a lie to day we all lived in harmony, because we didn’t. We just didn’t find interesting to disrupt someone else’s existence, unless it threatened our own. Our existence was not an easy one but we tried to make ends meet by using our wit and ability to cope with every single human thing that tried to tie our hands and prevents us from going forward. Maybe that’s how it started.

 At first, they were only a handful of people, but it started to grow exponentially when they made it into the media, into the information channels that every single intelligent creature used. You have to grant it to them: they used that in their best advantage and soon enough they rallied hundreds, then thousand of people in order to do what they wanted. It was one of those things you ignore at first but then they become so overwhelming and obvious, that you cannot just turn your head away.

 They started with fights and then with proper skirmishes. Now, we battle every so often with heavy artillery and our uniforms on, trying to change the tide one-way or the other. It has to be confessed that it doesn’t really seem to be working in anyone’s favor. We seemed to have stalled and it doesn’t seem like any of the sides knows where to look for the next step. However, with the destruction of our most sacred site, things will change in a new way, one that we haven’t yet seen and it’s very scary. Maybe they knew what to do all along and we were just pieces of a game.

 Being a prisoner is bad, of course, but we would prefer that option against the real one, the only one they give us: death. Facing that is not easy for all of us. Some have already decided they want to embrace it but others are too young or too afraid to actually walk into a battlefield and decide to die. So, when we were caught off guard by the destruction of our temple, they killed a big bunch of us but others ran towards the granite hills and hid there, moving through caves, trying to live another day.

 They eventually left, feeling there was no use in finding every single one of us to be killed. It’s obvious they realized that, without food, we wouldn’t be able to survive for long. And even if we did, such a small group of people had no power to overthrow the power hungry machine they had become. They were virtually unstoppable now and every other living being knew what they had to do in order to survive, and no other person could say anything about it, because we all wanted to keep living.

 The caves became our home and, as time passed, we were able to go outside and harvest foods we had never eaten before but we had to learn to enjoy them, for our sake. Many people had learned to grow other foods there and they also found water. In time, we had a small community that seemed to go unnoticed by the rest of existence. For a time, again, we were happy and we thought everything had gone back to what it was. We thought that, maybe, we had been given another chance.

 However, that was not the case. We were awaken one morning by the sounds of heavy artillery and then came the bombs. Our population was still small so two or three bombs easily killed most of our people. Those who weren’t killed, we tried to push them off for a while, in order to let others escape or maybe we thought someone was coming to the rescue, which didn’t make any sense at all. In time, they came through and the rest of our little group was almost completely destroyed.

 The only person that remained was I. Their leader in person came down to meet me and force me to bend the knee and sweat loyalty to him. He knew, very well, that it had been me who had started this whole thing; it had been my fault that so many brave men and women were now dead. It was my fault that our world had sunken into a deep darkness that would never go away. He knew how bad I felt about it all and he had come to make me say it out loud, not only to him but also to every other soldier on his side to hear. Because they had been on my side once.

 I did. I confessed my crimes and tried hard to redeem myself by asking forgiveness. But I didn’t ask him to forgive me; I did not ask that to his soldiers either. I was telling that to my people, to the ones that had been beside me for a long time and now they had paid with their lives. They had entrusted me with their faith and their lives and I hadn’t been able to correspond in any way, I had just grabbed their lives and used them as cards one uses in a cheap and lousy game of chance.

 As I cried, the man that had become the leader of the new world came to me, gave me his hand and carried me into his vessel. Inside, I was put on chains and treated like an animal, even worse. I was done and I wanted death to be forced upon me, but it seemed like he had finally realized that just death is not punishment enough. He wanted me to really need death, he wanted me to beg for it every single day of my life and he would be able to deny me that privilege.

 In time, I became something you cannot call a human anymore. I was much less than that. I was a shadow of everything mankind had ever amounted to. I just sat on my corner, in a dark cell, and thought about every single thing that had ever happened before my very eyes. There were happy moments but mostly fear and dread. I was haunted by the remains of the people I had failed to and the ones I had lead to their deaths. They blamed me and I could never disagree with them.

 I became increasingly weak and feeble, even to the point my mind started to go a little bit. The leader would come sometimes and watch me, ask me questions or just stare, as a disgusted costumer looks at a circus freak. He knew I wanted death and he would still deny it. There was something inside of him, something that remained from the past and seemed to be buried deep within him, some kind of grudge or maybe it was something completely different. I never really knew.

 Our vessel was destroyed one day, by armies that had been hiding and resisting the darkness that had befallen on the world. They had rallied, in silence, and their moment to attack had come in the exact moment I had been finally granted my death.

 I died anyway, but it was a different thing altogether. It was better. After all, it was them that needed to take revenge on me, after I had almost destroyed everything that they had tried to build. I had been the killer of their families and friends. So it was fair, in the end of the day, for them to kill me.