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

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.

lunes, 27 de febrero de 2017

Best actress

   After a very long night, she left her award on the table beside her bed once she had gotten to her home. It wasn’t really home but it was the place she was staying for the moment and that was good enough. Her brother had said goodbye some moments ago and now she was alone, late at night, removing everything from her earrings to the very expensive dress she had been offered. The shoes stayed besides a chair all night, the first thing she had removed, not a surprise.

 For a long time, she contemplated the award and she was glad that no one else but her was there too watch because she would have been too embarrassed. But alone, she had the time and opportunity to really look at her prize, the crowning achievement of her career after only having been working for ten years. She knew she was a very lucky girl, so contemplating the prize made it all so much more real, something even more thrilling. She smiled and then she heard someone at the door.

 It was one of her assistants who announced that the people of the jewelry company had come to collect their things. She didn’t quite get why they would come to her so late, but it was better that way because she had been very worried all night, trying to protect her ears and neck from every possible accident, which was very difficult with all the people around and all of the moving and talking and waving. She removed it all, handed it to her assistant and told her to give it to them.

 She would have given them their things in person, but she was very tired to do so. Hoping that the people that gave her the dress wouldn’t appear out of nowhere, she walked barefoot to the bathroom and took the dress off there. She hung it on the closet and then brushed her teeth and washed her face. She had the feeling of having been running through a coal mine or something like that, maybe because the make-up was now running down her face after so many pictures and poses.

 The pajama she had brought was made of two pieces: blouse and pants. They were both filled with teddy bears, which made her laugh. She put it on and quickly after she was already in bed, looking again at the little man that was standing on the table beside her. She couldn’t stop watching him and she knew it would be difficult to look at anything else for the days to come. But she had to make an effort because life was still going and not everything stopped because she had received a prestigious award. It was difficult as it was so beautiful.

 The actress stared at the statue and slowly fell into a deep slumber. In her dream, she was not in a fancy dress or even in her pajama, but dressed as a waiter in a restaurant she felt she knew but didn’t quite know where to put it. It felt strange but then someone asked for her and she ran to offer her services. The man that was ordering looked exactly like the actor who had won that night, just before her. But the expression on his face was the one of someone who didn’t know her.

 He wanted some apple pie and coffee. She wrote on her notepad and then left for what she thought was the kitchen. But once she pushed the door, she was the character in the movie that had made her a winner that night. She had the same dress she had put on for so many days, several months to be exact. It was bright yellow and had no real features besides its color. The fabric and even the smell felt just like she remembered them. It felt it had all happened a long time ago.

 She then realized she was inside the movie and it was her moment to perform. As she had done several times for the last few months, she did her dance number, the big one everyone in the world had been talking about. Almost at the end, a man would lift her up and then put her down again. But this time her partner during the dance number was no other than her actual father. It wouldn’t have been very shocking if it weren’t for the fact he had died a couple of years back.

 She was glad to see him again. He didn’t smile or talk to her at all; he just danced in the most beautiful and gracious way possible. When the time came for him to lift her, he did the most amazing job at it. She cried and hugged him but it seemed she was the only one doing the hug. Maybe it was because she was imagining him but he wasn’t putting any type of pressure on the hugging, he seemed to be there only for the sake of having someone standing in for the real dancer of the movie.

 It didn’t matter to the young actress. She hugged very tight and wanted that moment that wasn’t real to last an eternity. But as dreams often do, they end in the most sudden way. She soon found herself awake, still sitting on her bed, with her neck hurting because she had fallen asleep in the most uncomfortable position ever. She gave her a soft massage but didn’t leave bed, instead she looked at her award again and, only for a moment, she imagined it to be a smaller version of her father. That made her smile just before adopting a better position to sleep.

 Someone came for the dress when she was sleeping. She thought it was a very good idea not to wake her up, maybe everyone thought she deserve everything that day because se had achieved something not many people had been able to. And she was rather young and that even more uncommon. When she finally woke up, it was already late but no one had come to bother her. Again, she sat down at the edge of the bed and stared at the prize, which seemed to be waiting for her to wake up.

 It had lost some of its brightness, maybe because so many people had touched it. She could actually see fingerprints all over the statue. The woman stood up and looked around for her purse, where she thought she had the special cream they had given her to clean the award. But then again, she realized it was not something that had to be done on that very moment. Actually, there was something even better she could do right there, before anyone knew that she had woken up.

 She grabbed the award and felt it: its weight, its shape and height. It was not cold or warm. Then, she acted as she had just received and acted surprised and bewildered for a moment, not in front of a mirror but in the middle of her room. She was suddenly interrupted by her assistant who talked through the door: she had a long day of interviews for magazines and TV shows, so it was time for her to head to the shower and then running around the city to get all of her commitments done.

 As she entered the bathroom, she left the award on the counter, by the sink. She removed her pajamas and underwear and then stepped into the shower. There, she used hot water to relieve herself of everything that felt like a layer on her skin, things that were not really there but only on her mind. She had finally made it; she had finally become the person she had always wanted to be. And now, the path to be walked was new and amazing, painted with the most beautiful colors.

 In the shower, she smiled. She stared at it again, just to know it was there, and then smiled once more. She felt so damn lucky.

martes, 20 de diciembre de 2016

Christmas dinner

   As always for that time of the year, Adele had to out on her best clothes when working. It wasn’t really well seen if the hostess of a very prestigious restaurant dressed in any kind of clothing. She had to have some nice dresses for every single type of occasion, as she was the face of the hotel on the evening people had chosen to come. She represented everything for them and was the go to person if anything were to happen during one of the many dinners the hotel hosted all along the year. It was always vey busy, a successful business.

 Christmas time was especially hard on the hotel workers. For example, Adele had to wake up very early in the morning every single day leading to Christmas. For a week or so, she would have to put on her best coat to resist the fierceness of the weather and also because she really needed to get warm as soon as she arrived at the hotel as many things had to be checked. And in Christmas this was done in the most exact way, as everything had to be in line with perfection that night, as they always promised their guests the most lavish dinner ever.

 The kitchen staff consisted of several men and only a few women. There weren’t many women trying to breakout in the business and she was only closely related to everything they did on the actual restaurant. Adele was only a hostess and she would never be able to grow much more than that in her line of work. It all depended on very well paid jobs in certain events and parties, which he had hosted occasionally but not as prolifically as the events held on the hotel. There, she knew she was prepared to resist anything and everything.

 In the days leading to the Christmas dinner, the menu was checked several times and many testing lines were done. It was Adele’s job to taste everything and determine if she needed to change something in order to have some more time or make it a more successful menu. Two days before, she even thought it was going to be necessary to change the dessert because it wasn’t very well achieved but the person in charge of confectionery convinced her that he could make it more attractive with some superficial design.

 The day before Christmas he presented his corrections and he was lucky enough to be congratulated by Adele. The rest of the dishes were done and they only needed to cook them early on Christmas Eve in order for everything to be on point for the dinner. Many cases of wine were ordered from around the world, as well as many other alcoholic beverages. They also bought lots of cheese for after dinner and had to go to the market to buy the best and most fresh products in order to cook everything they needed for the menu.

 The night before the party, Adele was not able to sleep properly. She had gone to bed intentionally early but it didn’t work out at all. Not only was she worried about the dinner and the results the hotel was going to get with it but she also doubted her personal capacity to resist everything she was going to be held against. After all, the dinner was practically her show and if anything went wrong, it was her skill which had to come to work in order to fix whatever that needed to be fixed. All those thoughts did not let her sleep for a minute.

 When she arrived in the hotel, she checked every produce than had arrived and gathered the staff around her in order to tell them a few things before beginning. Not only the kitchen staff was present during the speech but also the rest of the hotel employees, as most guest were going to stay the night after dinner. Adele asked for everyone to do their best, to make it an experience that none of them could be able to replicate anywhere else. They needed to make that night one of the most special nights ever for every single guest.

 Rooms began to be cleaned and final details were being put on all over the hotel as flowers in every floor to make it smell divine. The kitchen went into full gear from very early in the morning, as they also had to cook for the rest of the guests in the hotel that were not going to participate in the dinner. It seemed to be chaos in the kitchens but the chef, and to a lesser extent Adele, knew how to make it all seem so peaceful, to always have a certain order that may not be obvious but with which every single person can work with to achieve the goals.

 Adele also had to check every single bedroom in order to personally see that the other workers had done a good job. She had to check first the ones where people had the intention to arrive earlier and then she moved on to the rest, checking for the bed to be perfectly done and for the furniture not to have a spec of dust. She also checked the bathroom, as that had always been very popular after dinner. People loved to have a bubble bath at some point so it was better to be prepared. Anything people wanted while staying had to become a reality.

 As she was checking the top floor, Adele received word that something had gone wrong with the dessert. Apparently the ingredients had been on a refrigerator that wasn’t working very well and they had become useless. Many melted and others were simply not the quality needed for the dessert. Adele ordered for all of that to be stored away and demanded the pastry chef and the confectionery guy to come up with something very fast as her customers couldn’t go without desert.

 Dinner was scheduled for nine o’clock at night. At seven, some of the guests begun to arrive and the desserts were not really done yet. Adele was very pleased to escort the first couple upstairs and tell them everything about the dinner, the usage of the bathroom and of the rest of the hotels features such as the swimming pool, the steam room and the spa, among others. She was lucky enough to check that room beforehand because she had discover dirty towels in the bathroom, so she changed that before anyone noticed.

 She didn’t join everyone to their room as, at eight o’clock, many more people started to arrive and she certainly didn’t have any time to waste. She used that moment to go back to the kitchen and see what they had come up with for dessert. As expected, they weren’t having many ideas. The people in charge were not as imaginative as they needed to be and they were really relaying on clichés to make a proper dessert. But the same old pastries and ice cream were not nearly goo enough for Christmas dinner. It would be an insult to the guests!

 Adele decided to come up herself with a new dessert. She knew they didn’t have much time, so she decided to reuse some of the ingredients they had from past parties. She decided to reuse the chocolate balls that melted when hot chocolate was poured on top of them. She decided to change the liquid chocolate for caramel and told the staff to come up with some sort of truffle at the center of the ball, in order for people to have a nice surprise when having their last dish. She put everyone to work and told them they had minutes to come up with a tasting plate.

 She decided to visit the lobby as they prepared, in order to let in the first guests. It was decided they should wait at the lounge bar, as she preferred to know first if the dessert was a go or no. She returned to the kitchen briefly to taste her idea and approved it when she realized it was good enough. Half of the kitchen staff had to help do all the desert plates needed for the evening. Adele left them again in order to open the restaurant and let everyone inside. The music had been carefully chosen as well as the design of the menus.

 The dinner started with applause when the guests saw their first plate, which was absolutely gorgeous. Then came the other dishes and finally the dessert. People didn’t say much about it but, when coming out of the restaurant, they praised the idea for being “simple but effective”. As some guests headed towards their beds and other towards the bar, Adele went to the kitchens and declared the night a complete success. She wasn’t going to sleep much that night either but at least she wasn’t going to be worried.

martes, 15 de noviembre de 2016

State visit

   Everyone at the airport was ready. The staff had put on their best clothes and every single corner of the small terminal building had been cleaned to the last millimeter. From very early in the morning, people had arrived to help organize every single part of this impromptu visit. After all, it was the president of the most powerful country in the world. And theirs was one of the poorest and most isolated ones on the whole planet. However, the presidential plane had to refuel somewhere, so the small nation had received the honor of hosting the president for a few hours.

 From the moment they had been warned about the impending arrival of the plane, hundreds of people were put to work. Not only those in the airport, people who only really worked on weekdays and even then only in certain time frames, but also every single operator and technician available. They wanted not only the people to feel welcomed but also to make the best work possible with the plane. They got fuel from the city’s reserves, as the amount they had on the airport was not enough to refill a plane the size of the one they were going to see in a few hours.

 The process required almost every person in the capital, a city of about a thousand people, to wake up and also help by cleaning the streets of the city and the authorities enabling the movement of fuel reserves from where they stored it to the airport, which was fairly close to the city. People took to the streets with brooms and mops and every single cleaning help they could get, but the truth was no one really knew if the president was going to land and stay on the plane or walk around a little bit. Many people were curious like that.

 The president of the tiny nation was the one that was moving all over his house, calling the right people and asking everything from food to more cleaning products. He wanted to send a message through TV but the people of the studios were helping around so he decided to send it through the radio. It was much simpler and more effective; as it was the medium of communication that people listened to while they were preparing the city for the big arrival. Every single person in the country heard it and everyone understood the importance of the visit.

 To the eyes of the world, it was practically a miracle that their country actually existed. To be honest, it had been a thing of luck and one of those strange coincidences that happen out of nowhere. They were too isolated and unimportant. Practically everything they had came from their neighbor to the east. So they had known starvation and real poverty because when that neighbor didn’t have enough for themselves, they suffered too. But the world in general never really knew anything because they weren’t watching, until now.

 The country had no army but its people did behave like one once the president’s message had reached every single person. They knew they had around six hours to have everything ready. With luck, the weather up in the clouds would delay the plane a bit more to give them more time but they constantly checked with the aircraft and that didn’t seem to be the case. Everyone had to do their best in the time given. Only an hour after the president’s announcement, everything was coming up nicely and all citizens were helping, even elders and children.

 A huge amount of people arrived at the terminal in order to use the old kitchens that some rundown businesses had not used in several years. The idea was to cook a good amount of their national food for the people arriving, as well as other dishes that they might like. It wasn’t crazy to think that they would be very hungry, even at that early hour of the day. After all, this was all going on in the darkness of the night. The president was scheduled to arrive around eight o’clock in the morning, so they had to wake up or not even sleep.

 The cooking team was led by the nation president’s chef, his own wife. It wasn’t like in other countries were the president has everything and the people below him have nothing. In that nation, everyone was basically the same. People hadn’t starved in some years but they weren’t rich or even close to that. So the president’s wife decided it was best if someone close to the government like her supervised the food. It was the best way to guarantee that it would be perfect for someone with such a high profile as the ruler of the richest country in the world.

 They acknowledge that all those people in that plane, around two hundred according to the information they had shared with them, had been and eaten in places much better than their small country. That was obvious and they didn’t feel bad about it. But they wanted them to leave knowing a little bit more of their culture and about what they loved to eat and drink in those lands. The menu had been defined by the president’s wife and she was very confident that it was going to be one of the best feasts in the recorded history of their nation.

 It consisted of a special recipe for meatballs using a kind of cheese that was made from goat milk, which also happened to be used in their national beverage, which was kind of like a milkshake but less thick and richer in flavor. They also cooked the goats in various ways and were very proud about their vegetables and mushrooms, of which they had a very large variety. Various dishes were cooked with all those ingredients and some spices too.

 The small country’s president arrived in the airport only two hours before the arrival of the plane, to check everything out. The terminal had been painted in record time by volunteers and the control tower was bursting with life when, in normal days, it would only have one person and not even all day. He thanked everyone there and then went to the terminal’s commercial area where his wife and helpers were giving the final touches to the food. The smell had flooded the building and it was very delicious, so much that many stomachs growled loudly.

 Then, he went outside and did a walk around the tarmac and the runway. There wasn’t a single spec of dust anywhere, which he thought was absolutely magnificent, especially for such a windy part of the country. It seemed as if the weather was also helping them achieve their goal. The red carpet in the tarmac was the same one that the president had stepped on when he was inaugurated for his term, more than three years ago. A president’s term was five years and he couldn’t be reelected, which he personally thought was a good idea.

 He decided to check the band that had been practicing for hour in the cold and congratulated them for the amount of love they were showing the country. He stayed a bit to hear them play and, to be fair, they were not as prepared as he would have like, but there was no way of getting better musicians with only an hour to go. They would have to do. What made them special, at the end of the day, was that they played their instruments with real passion and the idea of making their country proud. And that was more than enough.

 The president decided to wait for the plane in the control tower. There, he would be able to know every detail about the upcoming visit. When he stepped in, the plane had crossed into their airspace. It would be only thirty minutes until they touched down in the runway. The atmosphere was really special. Every single person in the tower, in the terminal, in the tarmac and even in the city was ecstatic. This was, by far, the most exciting thing to ever happen in their country. And they had all worked together to make it the best day possible.

 The plane came out of the clouds and landed, in a very soft and elegant manner. Everyone applauded and greeted the people inside through the radio. The president ran outside, getting ready with all others. Many people from the city had come out of curiosity and they had been allowed to stay a bit further away. The plane parked exactly where they had determined it should go. For some minutes, nothing happened. Then, the door opened and everyone stopped breathing for a second. Their moment had come.