Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta lake. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta lake. 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, 6 de diciembre de 2017

Sound, lights, action.

  There seemed to be no change in the weather. The wind continued to howl all night, not stopping for a moment. Luckily, there was a very large trunk filled with various blankets and pillows that helped pass the night without freezing on the spot. Being give people inside a tiny cabin was not something very comfortable but it was the only place they had found to spend some time away from the horrible storm outside. They didn’t say a word all night, trying to preserve their energy.

 The next day, the storm was still on full swing but they just couldn’t stay there the whole weekend. They had to leave right then in order to get home as soon as possible. They were there, on the mountain, for only a weekend and they had already wasted a whole day on that cabin in the middle of nowhere. However, some stated that maybe it would have been a better idea to just stay put, because sooner or late the rest of their friends would come for them, or maybe their families or someone that had seen them near the lake.

 The point made sense so they tried to discuss it but it only generated a silly argument related to food and heat, so nothing was really solved. After an entire hour of not deciding anything, Richard who was the oldest, decided he would go out and try to reach the lake. If he failed, he would come back to the cabin. But he thought they had to do something instead of staying there. No one said a word but the other four members of the party left behind him, covering their body as much as they could.

 The storm seemed to get stronger about five minutes after they had put one foot outside. With signs and screams, they decided to tie a rope around everyone, in order no to get lost. Richard was the first one in line and Theresa, the youngest, was the last one. She kept looking back but it was impossible to see anything. It was the middle of the day, they were sure of that, but no sunlight managed to get to the forest floor. The wind and snow made it impossible to open one’s eyes for very long.

 However, they kept on walking. Words couldn’t be heard anymore, even if the person yelled with all their might. So they just kept walking and walking, hoping they would soon get to the lake. After maybe forty minutes of traversing the storm, with legs and arms tired, they finally reached some sort of housing. The lights inside were off. Richard found the door and he soon discovered what Theresa had realized just seconds before going in. That building was the very same cabin they had just came out of, hours earlier. They had been moving in a circle.

 Of course, going back out was not really an option. Not only because it was extremely dangerous weather but also because the same thing would happen again. The snow and the wind would blind them once more into heading back to their departing point. There was no way to go through that again. Besides, their watches clearly stated night had fallen a short while ago and going out in the darkness, on a stormy night, seemed to be even a worse idea than the one they had before.

 They took out the blankets again and covered themselves with them. Mark and Daniel looked for food everywhere but the only thing they were able to find was a stale pack of cookies and some sour milk in a small crate, possibly some kind of refrigerator. Theresa was shaking violently. So much so that Caroline had to check her pulse and blood pressure by hand. She was clearly not well, as her skin had slowly turned blue and her lips seemed to have been covered in a thin layer of blackness.

 Everyone then gathered around Theresa and tried different things they knew, in order to get her blood pressure higher. They covered her with all the blankets and pillows, sat around her on the bed and gave her soft massages in arms and legs. However, the young woman started to shake violently. It was a very scary sight, as she seemed to be behaving in a way they had never seen. She would yell, scream profanities and then shake violently again. It was a very disturbing scene, in such a small cabin.

 She convulses some more and then stopped moving. Caroline checked on her again. Theresa had just died, in front of them all, for causes that were impossible to determine at the time. Caroline tried to explain it by blaming the cold temperatures and lack of food, but no one really paid attention to her. The men thought, without speaking to each other, that what just happened to Theresa had something to do with them going out of the cabin only to come back because of the storm.

 Mark had a few tears on his face when he said they should cover her body well or do something, because human bodies tend to decompose pretty fast. He said he had seen some documentary when it was stated it was best to bury a body as soon as it died for fear of certain diseases. Richard interrupted him, saying it was pretty obvious they couldn’t do that. The freezing temperatures could affect them too if they stayed outside for too long. Everyone looked at Theresa and hoped to be out of that place soon. Something they felt made them uneasy about the whole thing.

 Time passed and soon it was past midnight. The wind didn’t seem to be stopping soon, as it howled like a dying wolf outside the window. Caroline tried to look outside. She would have wanted to see some miraculous sign outside like a light or the face of someone she knew. Maybe rescue workers or even a helicopter. But the night was pitch black and the only source of light came from the lantern that Richard had brought in his bad. No one else had thought of it.

 Some time later, everyone was sleeping. Mark still had traces of tears on his face and Caroline had fallen asleep by the window, maybe the coldest place in the whole cabin. Richard was sleeping by the door, in a weird crouching position that seemed to be very uncomfortable. Daniel was the only one that had properly sat down and covered himself with one of the blankets. After all, Theresa wouldn’t need them anymore. And curiously enough, he was the one to wake up by the sound.

 A very powerful noise coming from the outside. At first, it was as if a gigantic creature was roaring wildly, but by the time Daniel woke up, the sound didn’t seemed to be that natural anymore. It was now something out of some horrible machine, causing an uproar that made the window shake and the body of their deceased companion fall from the bed. Daniel was close to the window when all the glasses broke and they got stuck on his face, making him bleed and scream to his death.

 It was him who woke up the others from their deep sleep. Caroline screamed when she saw Daniel bleeding on the floor. She had been close to the same faith but luckily she had leaned back in her sleep. Richard took her by the hand and raised Mark from the floor. He kicked the door open and started running, with the other two by his side. The forest was not in darkness anymore. It was now bright because of some very powerful lights that seemed to flood everything on sight.

 They ran away from the light as fast as they could but the snow was very difficult to go through. After a while, they grew tired and the lights finally disappeared, leaving in the air a scent that reminded them of their worst fears, of every single thing they hated.


 When they stopped, the light turned on again, more powerful than ever. They didn’t get to know if that was a weapon or some other kind of technology. The last thing they knew was that their fate was sealed and that they had not been in their very own world for a long time.

miércoles, 8 de febrero de 2017

Strange place

   The woods outside the small town of Iris, were a very lonely place almost all year round. Not a soul dared to cross through it to get anymore, no matter if it came from outside or inside the small town. People would rather cross the lake by boat to reach the village or simply take the main road that made a big detour around the woods. After so much time of this prohibition having settled in in the minds of the people, they simply didn’t think about it anymore and saw it as one of those things of nature.

 But it wasn’t exactly nature, which barred everything living from the woods. It was possibly the opposite, something dark and sneaky that didn’t wanted for people to penetrate the place were it lived. No birds crossed over those woods or even built nests on those trees. All animals, from bears to butterflies, avoided that patch of the world as if it was something automatic and not something they could do something about. Nature had nothing to do with that chilling place, not at all.

 On Iris, people loved life. It was such a strange thing for first visitors because one would think that living with a certain fear for so long would be quite a marking experience but it wasn’t at all. Children there loved to play all day long and the adults were kind people that loved to greet new souls to their community. They welcomed strangers as if they were a gift sent by the heavens and would also celebrate for an entire day if a new citizen was born inside the boundaries of Iris.

The festivities there were always something to behold: they put small flags of many colors over every doorway in town and they would sing beautiful old songs all day long, celebrating life. They also cooked the best food, especially fish, when a newborn entered their community. They also cooked some sweets that were specially made according to the tastes of the person being celebrated, meaning it was also done in birthdays, which were always a very grand occasion in town.

 The best part though, was the fact that people seemed to be having the time of their lives every single day. It didn’t matter if they were selling products in the markets, fishing on the lake, running around town or cooking lunch for their family, people in Iris always had a helping hand for everyone and big smile to top that with. All traders loved to visit, as they felt doing business there was more like being on a vacation were everyone is very kind to you. The name was famous in the region and the fact that the woods were so close, was baffling to so many curious people.

 They couldn’t understand how those people in Iris could be so happy. After all, those tall dark trees and that frozen wind had a presence that was not easy to ignore when one would travel through the main road towards Iris. People from the small town had moved the trail further away from the forest, many times during their history, but the woods seemed to catch up every time they did that. So every time a particular part of the road felt colder and simply strange, they rebuilt the road further away from that place.

 That work was normally done in a few days and it was something that needed to be done every year. But even so, the people from Iris that worked on the road weren’t even a bit worried about that. Every year, their town kept being pushed away from the rest of the civilized world. When the road was first created, the journey to the nearest town could be achieved in about 10 hours. With all the changes on the road, Iris was now located 12 hours away from civilization and it kept moving away.

 The route through the lake, by boat, was used my traders mostly. And that road was also altered every few years do to the fact that the dark woods seemed to be conquering the opposite side of the lake, little by little, and people now have to change courses a little bit which also made the trip a little bit longer than before. But people just did what had to be done and they tried not to think too much about it because there was nothing they could do, or at least that was the general opinion.

 A couple of experts in biology and other fields had studied the woods from the outside. Of course, most of these people came from other towns and they would go to Iris at least once to study the forest from there. The problem was that they were the only people not to be welcome in town, asked very politely to leave after spending one night in town. People usually agreed to do it in order for them no to cause any sort of unpleasant mood among the normally chilled population of Iris.

 Not many findings had been done by the very few experts that found the dark woods to be a fascinating anomaly in nature. The fact that no life could be detected there was strange enough, no matter if it was on the trees, the soil, the air or even the water that existed in the form of puddles. But even stranger was the fact that every single person that got too close to the forest, and lived to tell the story, would always tell others about a presence that was strong among those trees. There was something there but no one could really say what it was, if it was something at all.

 Of course, the people of Iris were not very big on any of those stories. The few people from town that had grown any interest in the woods, no matter how fleeting, would be asked to live the village and never come back. That seemed a little bit too hard but the fact remained that Iris was not a town where being curious was rewarded in any way. They lived a quiet peaceful life between a lake, some mountains and the main road; they didn’t really need to ask the world for anything else.

 That of course included the answers that so few had asked for but that no one was apparently willing to give. The only possible way to get a proper answer was to enter the woods themselves but even among people from other parts of the world, that was a crazy idea. All studies qualifies that place as dangerous and unstable, because of the road thing, so why would anyone try to enter to find answers to questions that no one really is begging for? One thing is wondering, the other is demanding an answer.

 Only a handful of people had done that, demand an answer from the forest. And the fact was that none of them remained to tell others why they asked themselves that dreadful question. That is because all of them, a group of ten or less, had walked into the forest and had never returned. When that happened, no one really asked for an explanation or for their bodies to be buried or anything like that. Not even their families wanted to know anything more that what was a fact.

 Those people were part of the mystery of the woods and every time of them had entered the forest, it seemed that year was one of especially big growth for that space as such. Trees seemed to get thicker trunks and the cold air seemed to become even colder. It was a very scary thing to think about and that was probably why people just kept ignoring those facts and the conversation over all. They didn’t want to confront the reality of the situation they faced every day, so they compensate it with joy and optimism, as they didn’t have anything else to go for them.


 In about twenty years, a young woman will realize a very dreadful fact that people in Iris will again accept as one of those things that happen and no one can do anything about it. She will reveal to her people that the road will be cut off because they won’t be able to push it further away from the woods. The trees will grow on the trail and the town of Iris will be cut off from civilization, same from the lakeside. They will be prisoners of the forest. And one day, they will all disappear because of it. And even then, they won’t say a word because that’s they way they are.

jueves, 7 de julio de 2016

By the lake

   On his request, I sat outside the trailer, sitting on my green folding chair. I could hear his rattling inside and wondered what he was doing. Of course, I knew he was cooking because, earlier in the day, I had seen him fishing for a long time. He had woken up at the crack of dawn to do it and when I got up he was still there, very quiet and with his headphones blasting some rock music into his ears.

 I scared him a bit when I kissed him on the cheek without notice. He almost fell from the stool where he sat when he fished. But after his initial scare, he took off his headphones, kissed me back and greeted me wit a huge smile. His bucket was fool and he was very proud to announce he was going to cook lunch for the both of us. I tried to tell him I didn’t really ate fish, had never really been into it, but he didn’t let me say a word. He was too excited.

 So I stayed outside as he cooked his very special recipe. He had caught enough trout to last us for the rest of the week. The lake was filled with them or so they said. As he did his thing, I sat down outside and enjoyed the sunny day. This was after we had showered and had some breakfast, something simple not to steal the leading spot to the fish we were going to eat later in the day. He was so excited about it that I just smiled and nodded at everything he said.

 The lake was a very peaceful place, even for a spot were so many small hotels were located. There was also a very big presence of people who practiced several types of watersports. Some even brought their sailing boats in order to practice for competitions. It was kind of relaxing watching them go from one side of the lake to the other, floating over water so easily it made your soul feel at ease.

 Paul came out of the trailer for a bit, only to tell me he had already gutted the fish and it was ready to cook. But it wasn’t even midday yet so he decided to step outside and seat next to me. His folding chair was yellow and mine was green, our favorite colors. He took my hand and relaxed, watching the birds fly by and feeling the beautiful breeze that made waves on the lake.

 It was a cold wind too, as the lake was located up in the mountains. But the day was unusually sunny and people were visibly trying to enjoying at its fullest. As the day went by, I could see more boats on the lake, even those ones in the shape of ducks and other creatures. We waved at them laughing, as it was a little bit ridiculous. But it was so much fun, especially with him by my side.

 After a while, he went in again saying it was time for cooking. I almost entered the trailer behind him to go to the bathroom but he prevented me from doing so. He said he didn’t want me to see any of it so I had to remain outside. I told him I really needed to go to the bathroom, as I had drunk a very big glass of orange juice. My throat was a bit sore and I thought the juice would help in making me feel a little better.

 Paul told me to go to one of the hotel or something. At first, I thought he was joking but then I realized he wasn’t. He was very serious and the whole place smelled strongly to fish. So I decided to tell him to let everything exactly as it was before and then I stepped out. He even closed the door on me, which I thought it was unnecessary but apparently he felt he was going to do something so incredible that it was better to keep it a complete secret, even from me.

 I smiled. My heart belonged to him and I knew he had always dreamt about being a real chef. He was always buying and reading cooking books at home and he often tried to do what he had learned in our kitchen. The difference was that he couldn’t really kick me out of our own place. I think he did that by the lake because he felt the place called for it and I couldn’t agree more.

 So instead of insisting, I decided to go for a walk and explore the vicinity as Paul did what he had to do. I started walking by the edge of the lake, watching people having fun in their boats. Some were riding one of those floating things that you ride and when it too bouncy you fall into the water. I really wanted to try that but then I realized it wouldn’t be too nice if I showed up wet to lunch.

 I kept on walking and remembered I needed to go to the bathroom. So I woke up a small hill and arrived to a small hotel that handled some cottages overlooking the lake. It was also the hotel that managed the area we had parked our trailer, so it made sense to ask for the bathroom there. The owner was a very nice lady who seemed to be as old as time. However, she moved very fast and seemed to have her senses in much better shape that most people.

 She gave me the keys to her private bathroom and it took my only a couple of minutes to be done. I cleaned my face watching myself on her mirror and realized I looked rather good. We all have those days when we think we look particularly great. We also have those other days when we think we look awful but, thank God, I hadn’t had one of those in a long time. In my day to day, I rarely used the mirror but the bathroom was so small it was not really easy to avoid looking yourself in it.

 When I was done, I thank the owner and decided to keep walking around the lake. I decided to make a full circle around it, as it wasn’t that big and I knew Paul needed time to cook. So I started walking, by another hotel and then a patch of tall grass filled with mosquitoes. I almost had to go into the water to avoid it. After that, there was a small forest of eucalyptus trees. It was nice to see the brown leaves on the ground and the sound they made as I walked on them. There were birds chirping and I could even feel there were squirrels somewhere above me.

 As I came out of the forest, I noticed someone had a problem in the lake. A lady in of those rowing boats was calling for help. Apparently her husband wasn’t feeling very well. She was yelling towards a place located further ahead on my path. It was the rental area where people that weren’t staying in any of the hotels could just grab a boat and have some fun for a couple of hours.

 I glanced at the woman and then at the rental area and noticed two men getting into a motorboat, going to the rescue of the poor woman. I kept on walking as they arrived by her and grabbed her husband who couldn’t apparently move. Probably a heart attack or something of the sort. She jumped from their boat to the other and then one of the guys that had come for them tied the rowboat to theirs with a rope. It looked nice how one little boat tagged along with the other. The journey to the shore was rather short.

 By then I realized I was halfway from my trailer. I tried to see if Paul was looking for me yet but I couldn’t see anyone waving or anything like that. Even if he had been outside, I doubt he would have seen me, as we were but very shortsighted. One of the many things in common we had. So I kept on walking through a very large area with only grass and some floors growing in peace, with no one grabbing them or taking them home.

 I sat down there for a while and breathed in a lot of that fresh mountain air. Then, I lay on the grass, enjoying how it felt, closing my eyes to try and seal that memory into my mind forever. It was very nice to be there, after so many things had happened to us in the last year. It hadn’t been easy at all but this small trip was kind of a prize for the both of us. I stood up and kept on walking, thinking we were much stronger than we thought.

 My last stop was close to our trailer, were lots of people were raising kites into the sky. There were lots of children but also adults that tried to teach them the proper technique to make everything perfect. I looked at their kites for several minutes, floating high in the air, doing the most peaceful think I could ever imagine. It was so nice to be there and not thinking about anything else.


 When I neared the trailer, I felt the smell of food. As I sat on my chair, he came out with a white wine bottle, which he poured into two glasses. We made a toast for ourselves and for that beautiful place and then we ate, talking about everything. It was delicious, every single part of lunch. But what was much better was to have gotten there with him. That’s why my hug after finishing eating was unusually stronger.