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

lunes, 24 de abril de 2017

No one

   The floor was cold and the room was very humid. No light entered the tiny space where he was trapped. He had forgotten his name long ago, maybe because of the many beatings he had received or maybe because it wasn’t something that was important anymore. A name didn’t help anyone survive such a horrible thing. Then again, he wasn’t sure he wanted to survive. He just wanted his awful situation to change, one way or the other, it didn’t matter at all.

 All the days were the same so remembering each one individually was difficult and also useless. There was no point in having a good memory when the schedule every day was the same: early in the morning he would be woken up by a plate of water sliding towards him or by cold water coming out of a hose. It apparently depended on the humor of his captor. Then, he was kept there all day unless his captor wanted something else from else, usually to work for him in the most awful way.

 He would knew it was a “work” day when an old mattress was put inside his cell, alongside the water plate and also some food. The food was never good, some sticky stuff that looked like mashed potatoes, but wasn’t exactly that. He ate it anyway but his stomach always complained. Those days, he would have to wait all day until his captor’s client would come. It was and excruciating wait that didn’t get better after it all ended. Of course, he wouldn’t see any of the money the client paid.

 Actually, he had never seen the face of the man that had kidnapped him and kept him there. He always wore a ski mask, so he had no idea what his face was like. But what he did know was that he was a very strong individual. After many beatings, using both punches and kicks, the captured had learned how heavy the captor’s body was. He had an incredible force in his arms and legs, probably because he exercised a lot. But the man was losing his eyesight living in the dark, so he could only go by what he felt was the truth.

 The beatings took place randomly. It was the only thing in his cell life that changed and, of course, it wasn’t something he would look forward to. When it happened, it almost felt like part of a sick and awful routine that had survived for far too long. The man in the cell knew he had been there for a long time but he had no idea how long that was. More than a year? Probably. Five years? Maybe, he didn’t really know. What was true was the fact that the violent man would never use him as the clients did, which the captured always thought was strange.

 But that was only when he wondered about his situation, which was really that often. Instead, he loved to sleep. It was the only way his body felt actually rested and, when he managed to sleep long hours, he was able to dream. Even when nightmares slipped in, it was a good thing for him. After all, he had forgotten what having an imagination was like and seeing all those images that make no sense inside of his head was a sign that there was still hope for him, in a very sad way.

 In the dreams, he was sometimes free. Not every time and that was very strange. One would think that his obsession was to be free in the world. But a recurring dream happened to be a redecoration of his cell, with more light and nice furniture, as if he was restoring his childhood bedroom, which he didn’t really remember anymore. When he dreamt of freedom, it always ended on a stark note, like a remainder that he wasn’t really free and that he might never be free again.

 What he did want, at least judging by his dreams, was to be able to talk to someone. Once, he did have the chance to do so, when another person was locked in a cell beside him. He had thought for long that he was alone wherever he was and that discovery was the best for him. Except the other person was not very interested in talking, instead crying and demanding an explanation to why they were there. Soon enough, their captor moved that other person somewhere or who knows.

 Voices were rarely heard. In their daily routine, not the captor or the captured would talk, even when one would pull the other by the hair or when the beating was especially brutal. No words were heard, as it was an unspoken rule to actually say something. It was better not to taunt danger, not more that was usual. So words were something inside their brains, wondering around and trying to get out in any way possible. He was afraid he would forget how to talk and behave.

 Many of his dreams and nightmares were an exercise on precisely that, trying not to forget every single thing about himself. He would sometimes remember, for example, the faces of his family. He knew who they were but not their names. It didn’t matter because “mother” was “mother” not matter what. So were “father” and “sister” and “brother”. He would normally wake up soaked in tears when he dreamt about all of them but, in a certain way, it was worth it. Because he still remembered, which meant he hadn’t been completely broken down.

 A day came in which his captor did not come. For an entire day, the poor man was locked in that cell with no water or anything that would indicate the presence of another human being. It felt pathetic and sick but he wanted the man to come and, at least, smack hard. At least that felt real, it felt as if it was happening. But having no one, deep in the dark, was very cruel, even more than the usual. That happened for what seemed like an eternity, but were actually five days.

 Then, someone did open the door. He would normally raise his head and wait for the captor to get close but he couldn’t do that anymore. He was too weak, feeling sick and preferring to sleep and dream about something less depressing. With his eyes tightly closed, he dreamt about an enormous bird carrying him to a magical land that was made of many colors and shapes. He hadn’t dreamt hat before and it was the happiest moment for him in a long time, as he felt loved, in way.

 He woke up several more days later. When he did, it was very dark, like in his room, but he realized he wasn’t there anymore. There was a machine besides him making a sound and he was lying on nice mattress, with clean covers and sheets. He saw the light from a corridor near him but, as his head felt too heavy to bear, he fell asleep again. The last thing he would hear were the steps of several people passing by his room. Or that was what he thought it was, he wasn’t sure.

 When he woke up again, it was day. A thick curtain diminished the light, which was a good thing because the sunlight felt like acid on his skin. He felt very tired but also dry and clumsy. A nurse came in and brought a drink in a bag with a straw. By the flavor, it was obvious it wasn’t water but it didn’t taste bad at all, so the formerly captured man drank it all. The nurse didn’t say a word the time she was there. And he wanted her to tell him something, anything at all.

 However, he would have words to share the following days as doctors and policemen visited him. The first group told him what his physical state was. To sum it up, it wasn’t good but he would be able to recuperate in the future, he just needed to be patient. Go figure.


 The second group, the enforcers of the law, explained to him his captor had been killed by one of his clients and that crime had led them to the cell. Apparently the client was mad because the captor hadn’t let him stay with the man in the cell when he wanted. He never understood that part.

sábado, 18 de junio de 2016

Swimming

   The light seemed to be far away, moving far from my fingers each time I moved my arms. The space I was in seemed very open and, for a moment, I felt that would be the feeling of being floating in space, without a proper astronaut suit of course. I have no idea why I thought that at that moment. Isn’t the brain supposed to prioritize things in our bodies in order to make us live longer? However, I could almost see the ship I had come out too, floating silently in front of me, and a big planet below me. But all that didn’t matter because I was about to die.

 The thought lasted just a second but it was strong enough for me to move faster, to force my tired arms to do a little bit more work. Every single vein and nerve in my body was crying in pain, my brain hurt so much I couldn’t stand it. I had always wished to be taller in order to have bigger arms and feet, which would have helped so much in that moment. But I wasn’t.  I was just the opposite of that and I was in a position where wishing was useless.

 My last movements towards the light were desperate. It was then when my body felt like it was empty. Every single thing that had no real use, every function that didn’t serve a purpose in that moment, they all disappeared in order to focus on the fact that I was going to die if my body didn’t perform something close to a miracle. Because I had never done what I about to do. It was a triumph I would never really be aware of and that’s ok because it worked.

 It was my right hand, my main hand if you will, the first limb of my body to feel the air outside. It felt terribly cold, colder that the water in the lagoon. The air seemed to be against me too but the difference was I could breathe that. The water was different, invasive and dangerous. Before and after that, I could never understand the people that are fascinated with water and would like to spend their lives in it.

 I guess that makes me a hypocrite. Because I kind of was one of those people before that. Since the earliest age, my parents took me to the ocean, to swimming pools, lake or wherever I could swim. I took classes and even competed for prizes when I was in school. Modesty aside, I won several of those competitions because I had a serious passion about the water, about how my body moved in it and it felt like home.

 The hard time would be during my teenage years when, for reasons I shouldn’t address, I became increasingly larger in size. And it was nature doing its job; it was more like junk food and sugar doing their thing. It was then when I got depressed for the very first time. Self diagnosed, of course. I never went to any doctor or shrink to tell me how I felt. Even at that age I found the concept ridiculous.

 Of course, I stopped my swimming. I was too big for the bathing suit and too sad to move my arms that fast. It was like that for years and I had to put away any remainder of who I had been before because it hurt too hard. Somehow, I had become a disappointment for myself. Is there anything more pathetic than that? I have no idea. The point is my attention shifted from one thing to the next. You can blame puberty for that. I just had to survive high school so, as when I swam, my body had to get its priorities straight.

 It was only in my last years of college, more than ten years after I had dropped out of the swim team in school, that I came back to the water. It’s amazing to think about it, but in that time I never really swam. Yes, I went to the beach or to houses with pools. But I would only be in the water for a moment, if at all. Maybe surprising but true. I felt I didn’t belong there anymore so why overstay my welcome?

 Aged twenty-three years old, I discovered a gym close to my house that had a swimming pool. The best part was you could reserve one of the swimming lanes for an hour and didn’t put anyone to tell you how to do anything. It was absolutely free of that. So I decided to go and, at first, I felt as drowned as in the lagoon. But I decided I would not ask for help and, slowly, it all came back to me.

 After my first week, the people that worked there congratulated me for my style, my technique. Although one of them reminded me, as if I didn’t know, that I was too short and that could be a problem. I know what he meant: being short in a pool is a problem because you take longer to reach the other side, even if it is by a few centimeters. Those can be decisive in a competition and they were certainly decisive in the lagoon. If I had been taller, the sense of terror would have been less powerful.

 When I had two arms outside of the water, the only thing I could do was taking a big breath. I felt alive, although barely. My legs hurt so much but they kept on moving until I reached the shore, which was obscured by the shadow caster over by the rocky structure above the lagoon. It was like a vault that enclosed the whole system. Why would I ever think it was a good idea to swim in a flooded cave?

 But as the soon got higher in the sky, the place seemed to get larger and the water revealed itself as so transparent and perfect. The sky was evenly reflected on its surface. It was so well done, the surface of the water, that had calmed down fast after I had gotten out of it, seemed like a huge mirror where God could check himself out.

 I lay down in my back, conscious I would have to swim back to the exit. Before I got comfortable, I checked for animals, bugs and others. After all, it was an arid place and little animals are known to live through the cracks of rocks and such. But when I was down, looking at the sky through the opening before me, I realized that was, again, my first time swimming in a very long time.

 The pool in the gymnasium was great. After some time, I got a proper job wearing a tie and a suit, which I’ve always hated, so I had to move my swimming hours to a later time. I would go the moment work finished, around six or seven in the afternoon. I would stay there for an hour, not stopping for more that a few seconds. I got new fans, new people that told me they were really surprised by me. I can’t tell you how much I loved that attention, which I had never gotten for anything else.

 However, I caught the eye of one particular person and from then on, I only cared about his comments and his smiles. I had learned not to let opportunities go by, so after a week of random looks, I decided to approach him after I was done swimming. It was weird because it was in the locker room, where people grabbed their stuff to have a shower or changed their clothes. He was wearing his bathing suit, like me, when I asked him if he would like to have a drink in a bar close to there.

 That was our first date. We considered it our first date a year later, when we celebrated the anniversary of our relationship. We didn’t really celebrate, we just got together and did the things we both like: we went swimming to a beautiful lake, we had a picnic with many delicious things to eat and we kissed and made love in my car, which was incredibly comfortable for such a vehicle.

 Our relationship lasted for almost three years. One month shy of our relationship turning three years old, he was assaulted in the street by some guy that wanted to steal his money. The guy had a gun and shot him with it, once. The bullet hit his spine. We all got to the hospital in time to say a few words. Then, he was gone. As if he had never existed. We had so many plans, a life of plans. This city is crazy.


 I came to the desert because of what happened. I needed to escape from everyone and everything. I still think about him, date and night. I cry for him and I also have wet dreams with him. But it’s in the water I feel him the most. I guess that’s why I challenged myself to swim through the flooded cave. And that’s why I’m challenging myself to go back. For him but also for me. I need to feel alive again.

martes, 12 de enero de 2016

Him and the gym

   It was very annoying, but it was more and more frequent that, in the middle of the night, he had to wake up to a cramp or some other time of pain. It would normally be in his feet or legs but sometimes it was his waist that felt the pain or even his face. He had gone to the doctor several times and to many different ones but none of them was able to tell him why that happened. He hated when it was obvious they were inventing what to say instead of giving him a science based and objective point of view. They just shot in the dark, trying to get it right.

 Many had told him it was the lack of exercise so he tried to jog in the mornings. Soon, he changed it to the afternoons, and then the nights. All of this happening in the same week, as he realized he hated to reorganize his life around such a menial activity. He didn’t understand how some people dared to say they loved to exercise often and for many hours. He didn’t tell this to anyone, but for him all those persons in the gyms and the parks exercising every single hour of the day, were just insane people without any real talent in them.

 Of course, he didn’t tell this to anyone when he signed on for a year at a big gym near his house. A perky girl showed him all the machines, explained the courses he could take (as if he was entering Harvard) and told him about the trainers that helped people there. Some even had experience in the military, which assured quality but also inspired some fear. In his first week he avoided the trainers and the courses and the dancing lessons, in order to focus only in the machines. It was a failure anyway but at least he wasn’t getting yelled at.

 The screams were constant in that place and everyone behaved as if it was extremely normal that a man build like a house would scream a bunch of skinny short women about how they couldn’t meet his extremely bizarre quotas of exercise. The man was clearly deranged somehow, always screaming and never really doing any exercise himself, only when he needed to demonstrate something he wanted all of them to do. Even then it was strange, because he would do the exercise so fast and in such a bizarre way, none of the women would get it fast and the screaming would ensue.

 He wasn’t the only insane one in the place. For a spinning class, there was a lot of yelling there too. The “teacher” there was a woman. She was very beautiful and her body was testament to her prowess in the exercise area but she was another one that yelled a lot. And he could never hold his laughter when looking at the spinning class because it was simply ridiculous. That woman yelling others to accelerate on bikes going nowhere, in a closed room with the concentrated heat that everyone was releasing, without the refreshing sight of the actual world.

 He exercised independently as long as he could but in every area of that place, there was a man or a woman kind of supervising that everyone make good use of the machines, normally looking after the cleanliness of everyone in the gym and to see that everyone was using the machines in the right way. To him, it was amazing how little sense of humor people in a gym could have. He saw a young man once trying to do a choreography he had clearly taken away from the TV on some of the running machines and they simply expelled them for that because they deemed his behavior “irresponsible” and “dangerous”.

 No one laughed there unless it was hypocritical laughter or if the person was talking on the phone. Besides that, the sound that ruled was heavy breathing and the eternal sounds of the machines and the one of the stupid music the put every single day. Every day it was the same playlist, from beginning to end and he already knew it by heart. And what was so annoying about it, is that it was there to make you feel you could always do more, like the music they put on shops and so on.

 Basically, the place was a laboratory, and every stupid person that paid to be there was a mouse or a hamster forever turning in their little wheel like an idiot, not ever thinking twice about anything. It was easy to see how brainwashed some of them are and the scary thing was that the results they had made them even more prone to stay there and keep on going and just obsess about the whole thing. He had hated to rearrange his life around exercise but many others were happy to do it, dedicating even more and more time per week to what they called “the art of exercise”.

 “Horseshit”. That’s what he told his doctor after a couple of months going to the gym. They did a lot of exams and tests and it was revealed that the exercise had nothing to do with whatever was happening to him. The cramps would even get worse some nights and he had slowly became a person that slept on his chest, as it was impossible to him sleeping in any other way. His legs always hurt and his body was still as bad as it was months ago.

 When he saw the results of the test, he decided to quit the gym. He had paid for a year but he didn’t mind “loosing” that money because in any case he had already paid it and new that the people in the gym had already spend it in some stupid machine. So he decided to only exercise in the weekends and on the park and maybe doing something he would enjoy, for a change. He played football with friends sometimes, or with a Frisbee or he could even buy a dog and play with him. The possibilities were endless.

 Yes, he wasn’t ripped like those nutbags from the gym but he started feeling better once he decided to relax about the whole thing and when he decided to get massages and eat better. All of those decisions made him happier than going to an enclosed space to run like a lunatic. Now he enjoyed his life and, even without the killer body, he felt better and that’s all he ever wanted. He had always been happy with who he was and had been depressed the whole time being in the gym. With all the pictures and the trainers and the brainwashing, it was hard not get out of there thinking “I have to be like all of this people”.

 He sometimes saw some of them in the park or in the street and they always gave him this look of superiority. But the look wasn’t only at him but at the world around them. For some stupid reason, all of this toolbags that had once decided to go crazy in the exercise, decided they were better than the rest of us and the worst thing was that all the media and the society at large believed that to be true. We have been taken by the balls by a small group of people and now the prototypes of beauty are radically different than what they were a hundred years ago and even more than what they were on the Renaissance or before.

 But people can stand up to that and just move along, living their lives as they may and not thinking every single second about how they look. He laughed alone when recalling some of the conversations he had overheard in the gym while in the machines or in the locker room. It has to be left clear that he didn’t thought they were all stupid but some of them were such idiots, it was a very difficult thing to ignore. They talked about sex in a way it was simply funny to hear about it, as if it was an exhibition of the caliber of a two peacocks showing their feathers to the one female, who also happened to be ripped like them.

 It hadn’t been his thing but he new that some people liked it and he was fine with it. Even some of his friends told him he should have at list used his membership the whole year, at least once a week. But he told them he simply couldn’t stand going there anymore. Seeing the faces of people that claimed they had fun exercising but were there every day stressed out because they didn’t lose as much weight as they had planned or because they wouldn’t meet theirs trainer’s demands. It was a disaster.


 He finally decided to buy that dog and it was the best decision he ever had. Not only he had tons of exercise running after his furry acquisition, the dog also became his best and most loyal friend. And that was something exercising like a lunatic couldn’t offer. It couldn’t give you real feelings, only shallow ones that surfaced because you can’t even think as you kill yourself on those damned machines.

jueves, 17 de diciembre de 2015

War there, peace here

   The park slowly fell into disuse. First, because it was all the way up the hill, something that had been a prime feature of the place but later was seen as just a silly way to make people pay more money for just some rides that they could easily find somewhere else. The rollercoaster, the ferris wheel, the bumpers cars and all those stands where you could get food and silly prizes were still there fifty years later but in a very different state.

 The city had wanted to dismantle the park but it would have been really expensive and it wasn’t a very rich area to pay for anything that big so they decided to send a team of experts to define if the park was safe as it was or if it had to be demolished, at least partially.

 It was a team of only three people that checked every single machine and structure for a period of five days. They used special devices to help them and took pictures. They were very noticeable in town because it wasn’t a very big city and people knew each other really well. It wasn’t a secret that most people believe the park should be left alone, as it had memories for many of the inhabitants of town but also because it was a very obvious and unique feature of town to have the park overlooking them from a hill. It was something like out of a movie.

 By the end of their studies, the team agreed the park was safe and that only some parts of the rollercoaster should be either demolished or repaired in order to avoid a future collapse. What surprised everyone was that the city council did nothing with the study and decided to file everything concerning the park. As they saw it, it was a place that was out of bounds, so if something collapsed no one would be hurt. After all, a perimeter fence had been built around the park many years ago and they could still manage to electrify it in order to keep out any intruders.

 The citizens were not very happy about this, as it would mean that a portion of the city’s electricity would go to a place no one cared about anymore. Some people presented their complaints but nothing happened. So the subject was left alone for a long time and people eventually forgot about the danger the study had shown, the electrified fence and so many other details that the council had omitted about the park.

 In the period of time that followed, the park was only seen as a feature of the city, like the rest of the hills and the forest to one side and the lake to the other. It was just something that was there and that no one really cared about a lot. It was ten years later, when young people, who didn’t know anything about the park and all that had happened with it, decided to are each other to cross the fence and get into the park. No one really knows why that came up but it did.

 They weren’t surprised when the first boy started climbing the fence and wasn’t electrocuted. Inadvertently, they had been the first people to realize that the perimeter fence of the park had not been electrified in many years. Actually, it had only been like that for a few months until the city dropped it. However, the townsfolk were never notified so they still thought safety was paramount among the rulers of the town.

 The kids loved to enter the park and eventually someone brought a pair of industrial cutters and made a whole on the fence in order for everyone to come in and just play around. Important to say they were just children and young adults, the oldest been twenty-five years old. The young ones liked to go around and destroy what could be destroyed, as well as use the former walkways as places to play baseball, pee and practice their shooting with toy guns. In the summer, they changed that to water guns.

 Meanwhile, the older new visitors went all the way up there to have beer and smoke cigarettes or marihuana. There was no place in town to do any of that without someone’s parents been aware of them so it was like a gold mine when they realized no one was looking at them in the park. Many got really drunk and passed out but friends would always help the guy or girl in trouble: they would help the person eat something, vomit as much as they needed to and then help them go home and say they had been food poisoned.

 Surprisingly, parents were very slow to understand what was happening and there’s no way to blame them as the country had entered another war in a far away land and many of the sons of the town had decided to go and defend the honor of their land. The truth behind this was that unemployment was rampant, which combined by the very traditional values of the region, made for a large part of the population supporting that war and being very proud that their children were participating in it.

 When they began to be killed, pride mutated into despair and worry and the fact that kids were smoking and drinking and playing in a dangerous place, was not really an important thing in the parent’s lives. They wanted to win that war but also see their boys, and in some cases girls, come back. The first coffins arrived only five months after the war had started.

 The perpetual state of mourning and overused patriotism was the perfect veil the younger kids needed to go to the park in the hill and just get away from their parents who spent every second of their day putting flags in every corner of the house or watching TV, usually the most fanatic TV station ever.

 They’d rather be shooting their toy guns to the roller coaster’s pillars or from the lower seats in the ferris wheel. It was amazing how the ambiance changed from the town square to the hill park. In the hill everyone laughed and ran and you could always pick up some gossip from the girl that sat in the benches to talk about their schoolmates. Even pets were allowed now as kids brought their dogs and other animals for their classmates and friends to meet.

 The truth is the place had become a kind of haven for children that were ignored at home. If the parents weren’t there for them, their friends would be. Many became friends after meeting in the park and many fell in love there too, initiating many relationships that would last for years and years, although kids had no idea of this.

 Even things as forbidden as two boys kissing was normal in their little world up in the hill, no one said anything to the boys that did it because there was an unspoken agreement that no one would judge anyone for anything they did, unless it was pretty violent or just wrong. For example, a group of kids saved a girl from being raped by some guy in one of the bumper cars and they decided to form some sort of security group, telling others to be aware of their surroundings at all time.

 Life was good for those kids and teenagers. And it was just like that for some years until an accident happened, the one that eventually was set to happen: the rollercoaster collapsed and killed two children and destroyed part of the fence and toppled trees that were located down the hill. As everyone in town was able to see the tragedy, no one was able to ignore reality anymore.

 Parents grieved now for the kids they had at home and realized what the city had done to them. Lawsuits ensued and media frenzy was created, as people loved all the drama and the tragedy behind this story.

Meanwhile, kids mourned their dead too and mourned the loss of the only place they had to be themselves, to enjoy being young in a world were adults were crazy enough to praise children going to war. The ones in the park talked about the subject often and thought all their parents were insane, even if none of them had said that to them ever.


After the tragedy, the town went back to worrying about those who had left willingly to die. But kids wouldn’t take it anymore. It all started with a twelve year old grabbing all the national flags in the house, piling ALL of them and burning them at the backyard. War had come home.