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

miércoles, 31 de mayo de 2017

The rocks

   Every single woman in the town visited the rocks at least once a weak. It was the perfect place to do laundry by the river, but also a place for encounter. They would discuss the latest news, as well as sharing some of their most personal things. Not every woman went there at the same time, so small groups of them visited the rocks every few hours. It was never crowded because they all knew at what time they should be visiting in order to find the people they communicated best with.

 The ones that arrived at the earliest were mostly older. For some reason, experienced women tended to do their chores as early as they could. It was kind of an irony because they were the ones with the least amount of work at home and there in the rocks. After washing a couple of undergarments from their husbands, they were finished and did not know what else to do. They usually stayed on until the last woman had finished. That means they only stayed about an hour in the morning.

 The biggest group visited the rocks after midday. It was the time when most women had finished cooking for their families, so they all decided to process their meal by doing some exercise, and washing laundry was exactly that. Some women spent up to three hours there. It wasn’t very surprising considering the amount of dirty clothes accumulated by one husband and at least three young children. It was a lot of clothes to clean and they did it as fast as they could, as they talked and laughed.

 Then, there was a small group of women that visited the rocks an hour before sunlight disappeared. They normally visited that late because they really didn’t want to confront other woman during the day. They just wanted to do their thing and then leave as soon as possible. Women that visited at that time were often widows or single, having never married. They were just a handful in town but enough to make people talk about them. That’s why they preferred a certain darkness.

  What they all had in common, and rarely realized, was that every single one of them loved to visit the rocks because it gave them an outlet, it was something different from seeing men every single day and then having to do what they said. There, in the rocks, no man was in charge. Actually, they practically never went there, as they knew they would encounter a large number of women and men always felt a bit scared when outnumbered by anyone. The rocks were only for women and, as such, it was a safe space where they could discuss anything.

 It wasn’t uncommon to hear women curse and talk about their families in a not so kind way. A person hearing them out of context would never understand how much these women actually cared for their families. But they would sometimes need to vent their dissatisfaction with some of the thing that happened at home, because they needed to tell someone. In the household, the men were not supposed to be bothered with those issues and children were too immature to understand.

 So they only had each other to talk about those things that only women went through. Of course, they didn’t all got along as adults are complicated and there’s always some kind of animosity against someone because they did something you may think is wrong. That’s why the single women had their own scheduled to clean. Because they didn’t wanted married woman to ridicule them in their own time, when they needed to feel they could breath for at least a second.

 The point was that life for women was very difficult in town and they were grateful to have a space of their own to talk and have a little bit of fun once a week. There was no fun in anything else they did and their little town, so out of the way of the world, was sometimes too slow and boring for any of them to feel they were living the best life possible. Granted, some of them stated often they could never have a big city life as the change would be too much and they thought of urbanites as sinners.

 Religion, as expected, had always been a very important part of the town’s life. Every single person, or at least most of the people, would go every Sunday to the mass. There, Father McGregor would tell them once and again that their ways were wrong and that it was time to correct them in order to get into the kingdom of heaven. Sometimes he softened his words but it wasn’t something that happened often. It was clear that religion wanted people to be scared and they were effective at that.

 So much so, that women sometimes felt guilty of whom they were just because they were women. They discussed it sometimes on the rocks, but it was a very complicated subject that some of them didn’t want to talk about because they felt heir beliefs were above anything else. These women had been raised to believe that they were inferior, by nature, to men and most had assimilated that and thought it was true. Changing that was very complicated so that’s why it wasn’t a very popular subject to bring to the table. Something more entertaining was always better.

 On the rocks, they laugh, they cried and they shared thoughts and words and what little knowledge came their way. Sometimes they could stop talking and other times, there was a silence that settled in and made them fell protected somehow. It was strange but after so many time there, they knew exactly how they should behave there and how they should do it at home and how it was better to never mix both worlds, because doing that could be dangerous to anyone.

 A woman once remembered a funny anecdote she had heard on the rocks and laughed out loud. That happened in her home but in front of her husband and children, while they were having supper. She tried to explain what she had remembered but the only thing that happened was that the husband stood up in silence, walked towards her and then slapped her as hard as he possibly could. The pain on her cheek was enough to understand that she could never mix the rocks with her daily life.

 Every women had a story like that, sometimes more tragic, sometimes less surprising. But they had all experienced what it felt to be something like a domesticated animal working for a master. They were like the bulls that helped in the fields or the horses that carried people from one place to the other. There were not that many differences between the two and that made them angry and hopeless. So they discussed it sometimes and they always ended up with a sour taste in their mouths.

 However, the rocks existed. And as long as the women had them to go and have a chat, they would feel empowered to keep going, to keep living day after day even if it felt difficult and, sometimes, impossible.

jueves, 24 de noviembre de 2016

Lemon slices

   She cut a slice of lemon and put it on the edge of the glass. One of the waitresses came in a second and grabbed it, taking the drink to its table. Working on a bar wasn’t the best paying job ever but no one ever get bored during a shift. Bronwyn had been working there for almost a year and she had already witnessed every single kind of thing you could see at a bar. From the beginning of a fistfight to a couple falling in love. She had seen first kisses and last dates. She had even been a shoulder to cry on for some people.

 It wasn’t like she had looking for that specific job or anything. The reality was that Bronwyn had not found a proper job in the two years after she had graduated college. She had a diploma that made her a professional engineer but she had never been able to work as one. Every single company she had sent her CV to, turned her down because she had no experience. But how could she gain any experience if no company would hire her? It was the eternal struggle and it got worse as time went on. She was desperate and there’s when her friend Alicia gave her the idea.

 Alicia had been dating a guy who owned a bar. The place was not very big but it had a very good location. As Bronwyn’s friend, Alicia offered her a job in her boyfriend’s club. She told her it would be nice for her to have at least one paying job in her information and that it would only be for a short period of time. Bronwyn wasn’t very convinced by that. She really wanted to find something that suited her better but Alicia reminded her of how much time she had spent looking for that. Besides, it would be fun for her to be a bartender.

 The first thing she had to do before taking the job was studying a little bit about the drinks that she would have to serve. Alicia gave her a copy of the menu of the bar and Bronwyn looked for the appropriate way to do those drinks. She practiced by watching videos online and failing once and again. She dropped several mixers to the ground before she could do the shaking moves the right way. The rest of the things she had to learn were quite easy and it was just about remembering the right ingredients and the amounts of alcohol she had to use.

 She practiced a lot because she wanted to be really good in her first job. If she was going to do it, Bronwyn had to feel she was doing the best thing she could do. The very first day she worked on the bar, she impressed everyone with her moves, despite being very nervous about something she hadn’t realized she had to do: talk to people. She had always being kind of shy but talking to half-drunks and people in almost darkness was much easier than doing it as if they were outside.

Her first day was an absolute success. Alicia came around late to watch her for a bit and then congratulated her on how much energy she put into doing the drinks. Bronwyn couldn’t really talk much because she was always focused on making the drinks properly and not missing one thing about them. She supposed that, in time, she would be able to do them without thinking that much. And it was true. After only a month in the bar she began to be more relaxed and even made friends with the other people in the bar and some of the clients.

 Besides, she found out people could give her tips and some of them were really good tippers. It was very clear for her where they came to, but it was pretty obvious that Alicia’s boyfriend had attracted the right crowd to the bar. They dressed with expensive clothes and paid for several drinks that large groups would consume. Some nights it was truly insane, seeing these rich youngsters drink and drink and their wallets never feeling a single thing from all of that craziness. For Alicia that was simply incredible, as were the tips she received.

  The place had two levels: the lower level was where the bar was located also had a lounge area and a small dancing floor. But the true dancing area and full club experience was upstairs. Lights there were even more scarce so all the waiters had to act as security officers also: they couldn’t allow any bottles or glasses upstairs, only in the tables and the bar in first floor. It was a difficult task for everyone and Bronwyn tried to help as much as she could by always being attentive of the stairs and the people going up to the second floor.

 There had been several times in which people tried to go there with their champagne or whisky bottles and one night in particular they found out why it was so dangerous for that to happen. A very drunk client grabbed his vodka bottle and hid it in his pants. The lights, or lack of them, helped him go unnoticed until he reached the stairs. Bronwyn thought he looked very strange, so she told a waiter to follow him and just see if he was hiding something under his clothes. The waiter did as she said but finding the guy wasn’t easy upstairs.

 It only became clear what he wanted to do once a girl screamed upstairs. Bronwyn almost dropped a bottle when she heard the noise. She ran upstairs automatically, as well as many other people. When they got to the second level, they realized the drunken man had broken the bottle and was threatening a woman with it. The waiter that had gone behind him was trying to convince him to lower the bottle but the he launched himself at the waiter, trying to cut him. Someone, a big guy, grabbed the drunkard before he could do any harm and put him on a lock.

 The bottle fell to the floor and the big guy took the man downstairs. The lights were put on and everyone was asked to leave the scene of the aggression, except for the workers, the drunkard and the girl he had threatened with the bottle. They all waited for the police, who arrived shortly and took the man away. The girl then explained to the officers that she was his ex-girlfriend. She could only guess that he had followed her into the club and had been waiting to do something all night. She was trembling a little bit as she told her story.

 After that, the big guy revealed his identity: it was Victor, Alicia’s boyfriend and owner of the club. He had been there just by chance and had been able to intervene. However, he wasn’t in a very good mood. He told everyone it was a shame that they hadn’t realized he was going up there with a bottle. He told them that they should be much more perceptive about who went up the dance floor. He told everyone he was very disappointed in them. After saying all that, he just left, leaving everyone to clean everything before leaving.

 Bronwyn thought she was out for sure. After all, she had left her post only to see what had happened upstairs. People could have stolen drinks or even money. She was certain that Victor would call her to tell her she was fired or not even that, maybe someone else would tell her. The next day of work, she was really nervous about that but no one ever came in to say anything. Furthermore, every single person that had been working in the club was still there and some of the also thought that they were going to be fired on the spot.

 Apparently, Victor was a much kinder guy that he looked like. That was a good thing for all of them because it wasn’t only Bronwyn that needed the job but every single one of them. From then on, they assigned a waiter to the stairs area to check on people and eventually Victor hired a security guy to do that job. The tips eventually got even better and Bronwyn realized that working as a bartender was not bad at all. She earned good money, she was good at it and she would make friends every night. The conversations she heard sometimes made her laugh, and some other times almost cry.

It was such an experience to be there with all those people, hearing their problems and the reasons they were happy about. It was funny to see the groups of friends dancing all together and it was also great to see love flourishing between two people, whoever they were, or seeing friendship be so active in men and women. Eventually, she stopped working there when a company finally decided she was good enough for them. But Bronwyn never forget the lemon slices she cut and the drinks she served at that club.

martes, 5 de julio de 2016


   The only tree in many kilometers was an island of hope for those crossing the planes. The grass grew very green but nothing else. No one else knew the reason, but other signs of life near the tree were scarce. The people that crossed the plains, looking for a better life in the east, were almost the only signs of life in the area. Sometimes bugs will swarm around the tree, sometimes a lost mammal or some small lizard. But that was it. All the rest had gone away in a blink many years ago.

 The catastrophe had occurred in one strike, one big punch against the planet. In a matter of days, most species began to die and most tress got a very serious disease that made their trunks and leaves much weaker than ever. They would fall, piece by piece, and then rot into the ground without anyone really caring. People did not realize how important that event was until, a weak later, some people started dying.

 It was especially people that lived up in the mountains. They had no oxygen to process anymore as all the trees in those areas had died and the other vegetation was also getting sick but dying much slower. Walking around forests was forbidden, as it was a very dangerous thing to do. Besides, everyone could feel the cloud of disease in the air. It had a very particular smell and it was likely it tasted strange. At first, people used masks and special suits when encountering an affected tree.

 However, in time, people realized they had no reason to worry about the disease. It only killed plant life. But that was equally bad any way, because without the correct amount of plants in the world, no one would have any oxygen to breathe. Most scientists tried to come up with a solution for the problem, some kind of antidote that would help everywhere. But that was never found. The only thing they could do was to plant grass, which seemed to be unaffected and that’s why the plains, years later, were covered in a thick layer of grass.

 The caravans crossing the region were confused, as the color in the ground was very festive, welcoming them in a way. But the truth was that everything was dead. Besides the grass, there was nothing in the plains, not even hills or mountains or anything like that. There was only a huge space covered in green and groups of people trying to overcome te strong wind in order to get to the other side.

 Hope relied on the east as the lack of oxygen had begun in the west. Some thought it was because of a weapon someone created, and they wouldn’t be any wrong. It was all a laboratory creation that had gone really wrong. But no one really cared anymore. Seeing the lonely tree in the plain, make them realized there was no reason to complain now.

 One of the groups had been walking for around a month. Their clothes, particularly their shoes, were destroyed by the effort of walking so much. They had children and elderly people with them. However, every time someone got really sick or wouldn’t move, they just kept on walking, leaving that person behind. They couldn’t be compassionate or anything like that. The more time they spent crossing the plains, the more time they gave to that weird phenomenon to make them a big part of it.

 Many feared, with reason, that the disease of the plants could somehow be transferred to a human being. It was true that most food had died because of it, there were no crops or anything like that. But those who had eaten food around the first days of the catastrophe, were really afraid they had the disease inside of them and that they would began disintegrating just like the trees.

 But that never happened. People died out of hunger or because they couldn’t breath properly. Now most people used a special mask that tried to consume the minimal amount of oxygen. At first, it was quite a challenge to live like that, every day. But after a while, it was not really noticeable. Humankind had gotten used to other things and they would adapt to less oxygen in the atmosphere. Of course, there would be a certain level of extinction, but that’s nature.

 Each group that crossed the plains knew very well they shouldn’t stop much. They only did so when everyone, every single person, was in the need of water or food. They never stopped for only one person. If there was only one individual asking for help, they normally let him or her find a solution for their problem by their own. Most times, that person would die in just a few hours.

 The plains, so green and beautiful in a way, were like a desert. The climate was harsh because there were no trees to stop the sun getting to the ground. However, beside a few yellow patches in the grass, the ground wasn’t affected at all by the heat. There were still some rivers and lagoons, were they could recharge their bottles and other containers to have water. But the taste of it was different and it wasn’t as helpful to the body as before.

 Yet, people were persistent and walked every day and every night if that was necessary. Some groups did rest at night, but it was very unsafe or so thought others. Without any other animals, it made no sense to be scared of sleeping at night in the middle of the grass, but people still had many of the characteristics of the former humans, the people that they used to be not so long ago.

 Some groups reached the east and realized there was an ocean there they had to cross. But the first real thing they noticed was that the ocean level had dropped sharply. By the coast, they were strange formations they could identify as being from the former bottom of the sea. They could still see some fish and people grabbed them and ate them, because they were hungry and they had to put their hands on anything they could.

 In order to cross the sea, people would have to work hard and that was something to think about. After all, they had no way to breathing properly and they could die constructing any vessels. So first, they looked around and finally got to what used to be a Marina. The ocean was about ten kilometers away now. There were big yachts and smaller ships but there was the huge problem of moving it towards the water.

 They had to use a truck and some rope and try to do it slowly as the ship’s hull could break and that would mean more effort that would consume even more oxygen. But, thanks to the soft ground left by the moving sea, the ship got the coast unharmed. People got it into the ocean and sailed away. That was done by the first group to successfully cross the plains. They had lost about fifty lives in there and five more moving the boat. They were only twenty-four now. But at least they were alive in order to look for a better life abroad.

 Some had hope, still, that the disease of the plants had not reached other continents but the few people that were scientists or teachers knew that to be impossible. The world had been connected by so many ways in the past, that it was not possible for a disease to just stay in one place. It would have to be a conscious disease or something like that and, thankfully, they hadn’t found out about anything like that.

The first days of sailing were fine, but by the end of the first weekend, many got sick and some more died. They began thinking the ship would never reach the other coasts, wherever than was. Maybe they could at least meet others in order to survive together or maybe there was like a safe haven for the disease or something like that. People had to dream and have hope, because they didn’t have anything else.

 When the ship hit the other coast, only nine people were still onboard that first ship. They explored the coast and realized the strangely green grass also grew there. And there were no trees or flowers or any other types of plants. No bugs, no dogs, no nothing. They were done. They decided to keep on walking just to be able to think about something, to come up with a plan. But it would never happen. It was the end.