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

lunes, 3 de noviembre de 2014

A Sea of Words

The rain had gotten me there. It was a rather small library, with shelves all around and a few tables filled with piles and piles of books.

I had never gotten in there. Actually, I had never seen the place before. This was very strange as my house was not that far.

I have to say I don't read very much as I prefer creation than reading. I know this is a controversial point of view but I'm looking for approval. However, it was refreshing to see places like this still existed. I walked around the room and only saw a one small and elderly woman in a corner, sitting in a high stool, reading a book. I think it was Moby Dick but I wouldn't say for sure.

There were first editions, new books and old books, big ones and small ones and in every single language you could think of.

A guy, a bit older than me, appeared from behind one of the piles of books. I was startled and tried to fake it but he had noticed and started to laugh. I was really annoyed by this so I turned around and started checking the books in the opposite shelf. I gazed at the window: the downpour appeared to have gotten worse, if possible. I could even see the light of a thunder and the sound, this time, didn't startled me although I felt worried I wouldn't make it to my date.

The guy appeared again, blocking my view of the window. He asked if I was looking for a particular book. I told him I wasn't. He then asked if I had just entered the store because of the rain to which I answered with a soft "Yes".

I grabbed one of the books and I attempted to fake reading but the book happened to be an illustrated version of the Kamasutra so I put it back on the shelf as the guy laughed hard. I turned around to check on the older lady but she appeared to be to immersed in her book.

Trying to come up with something to say, I didn't realized the guy had grabbed my hand and was making me walk towards the back of the room. When I did realize what was going on, I felt blood rushing to my face and tried to release myself from him but he only tightened his grip. He opened a door and then made me follow him up, to a second floor.

There, there was a room as large as the one below. Shelves were also all around but in the center of the room there were only a few tables, to be shared by two people at most. Each one had a lamp and they seemed to be really comfortable.

He released my hand and went to the back of the room, close to a circular window through which I could see the rain continuing to fall. The guy started looking for a book as I watched around, seeing only one of the tables occupied. There was an older man that went back and forth in the book, apparently comparing phrases or maybe images.

I got closer to him and tried to watch over his shoulder. He then said "You can come closer if you want". So I did. He was reading an encyclopedia, apparently only dealing with sea creatures. He was comparing two types of salmon. I smiled at him as I saw the guy telling me to come closer.

As I walked across the room, he sat on a chair and turned on the lamp. I sat down in front of him. He told me he had a present for me. I smiled and asked him "Why would you give a present? We don't know each other?". He answered "Precisely".

He gave me the book and I realized it was a first edition of the first book of the Harry Potter series. I couldn't refrain myself from laughing. But he didn't laughed. He actually look at me disappointed, as if I had hurt him horribly.

I realized it was the wrong response so I stopped and apologized. I laughed, I told him, because I thought he was going to pick a strange and weird book for me, to make me feel stupid for coming into his store.

He corrected me: the store was owned by his grandparents. "You have already met them". I turned around to see the older gentleman flipping pages and scratching his head. Salmons were puzzling him indeed. His grandmother was the Moby Dick lady, he confirmed.

 - What's your name?

That was his next question. I told him my name and then he told me his: Marcus. He told me his parents loved the Antiquity and if he had been a girl he would have been named Cleopatra.

I smiled at this. It was a sweet anecdote. He smiled back and told me he loved Harry Potter and thought it would be a nice present for someone who doesn't read much or so it seemed. I told him he was right. We started talking for a while: I told him what I did for a life and what I liked and he told me about his deceased parents, his love for books and his grandparents.

I have no idea how much time I spent there. What's true is that, when we came down to the ground floor, rain had stopped and the orange light of the afternoon was filtering through the window.

Marcus told me we should meet when I finish the book. I agreed. I was about to come out of the store when I realized I wanted to ask something more. He looked at me and then I thought it was better to ask about it the next time we would meet.

Some time later I was on the bus calling my friend, telling her I would be arriving a bit late due to the rain. She said it was ok and we hung up. I then thought of Marcus and how guilty I felt having not told him that I had known Harry Potter for years. I read the books when I was younger, as they came out. I really liked the story and that was, in part, the reason why I laughed when he gave me the book.

Anyway, I wanted to meet him and go that place again. So I felt good about lying and thanked the rain for its wisdom.

martes, 23 de septiembre de 2014

The Real Mrs. Humphries

Helena Humphries lived with her dog Alan and her crow Lena. They had been together for several years and weren't planning to separate any time soon. Her husband Harvey had died five years ago and both animals were greta companions for an elderly lady like Helena.

For years, she had taken care of a small shop, located just below her apartment. The place had been the property of Harvey's family but they all died out fast and he was the last one. So he gave the shop to Helena in his will.

To be honest, she had not been very happy when she realized she had to take care of business. She was 74 years old and planned to live the rest of her days in peace and tranquility. The shop was too much to do, too much to pay attention to. She had always thought the place was perfect for her husband, an innate businessman. But she didn't have it in her.

They had met in high school and from then on she was only a wife. They never had children and, to be honest again, she didn't resent it. She thought children should only come to the world if they were "looked for" and if they were guaranteed love.

Helena had suffered from depression when she was younger and Harvey had taken care of her with love and friendship. For that, she had always been thankful and decided to be the best wife she could and she had been: beautiful cakes every birthday, delicious dinners after a hard day at work and kisses and hugs in bed.

Harvey had died a happy old man. He was 80 and died from a heart attack, a disease that plagued his family, made mainly of larger people.

So Helena had to take the shop in her hands. She sold everything: groceries, candy and even hardware.

One day, a particular windy one, a woman called Virginia entered the store. She browse around but didn't appear to be really interested in anything. Helena had recognized her: people of the neighborhood said she was a prostitute and that she had a son out of one of her clients.

 - Might I help you?

Virginia looked at Helena and started crying. The older woman didn't know what to do, so she grabbed some hankies, the one she sold, and gave them to the woman. She cleaned her face, tainted by ruined make up, and blew her nose.

Helena asked if she was fine and the woman started her story: it was true. She was a prostitute as she had been laid off from her job at a brewery and she found herself with no husband and a child. But the child was not a consequence of her new work, more like the cause of it. She did it for him, so he could have food and a better life.
But she was tired of her living and wanted to stop. But her procurer forced her to keep doing it and she didn't wanted to.

At the edge of tears, Helena told her no woman should be forced to do nothing, as her Harvey had said. He had always encouraged Helena to be more than his wife but she had settled in it so well, she didn't wanted to pursue dreams that may not come true.

 - Work here. I have an extra room for you and the baby. Turn your life around.

This had two purposes: help Virginia and also separate herself from the store so she could have some peaceful elderly years.

The younger woman moved in with her son and life was good and quiet for a week or so until a man named Gregory came into the store, with a body guard as big as Mrs. Humphries wardrobe. They started pushing things to the floor and insulting Virginia for failing to do her job. She asked for forgiveness and told Gregory she would pay any debts. The big man grabbed her by an arm and almost broke it.

Suddenly a loud bang was heard. No one really knew what it was until Gregory fell dead on the floor. Mrs. Humphries had come down from her apartment, where she was taking a nap next to Virginia's baby, with her rifle.

It has to be said that Harvey had always been cautious and didn't trust the authorities too much, as his younger brother had been drafted illegally by military men and then died in a faraway land. So when he married Helena, he taught her how to shoot and use all kinds of guns. On saturdays, they would share an evening at the shooting range and then have milkshakes for desert. Helena had always loved those days as she felt strong and with purpose.

The tall big man dropped Virginia and attempted to leave but Mrs. Humphries shot again, this time pointing at his knee. The man screamed of pain.
In a matter of minutes, the police was there, picking up the bodies and summoned the women for interrogation. As it was self defense during property invasion, they let them go.

From then on Mrs. Humphries took care of Virginia as if she was a daughter and Virginia learned to think of the older lady as a mother. She proposed Helena to close the store for remodeling in order to turn it into a nice little café, which could attract more clients. Virginia was skilled at baking and pastries and had always wanted to do it for a living.

The new café was a success. Every person in town wanted to have one of Virginia's pastries for dessert. Helena helped too and, finally, gave in to her Harvey's wish of her becoming more than a wife. She became a proper owner, a good hostess and a great surrogate mother for Virginia and her baby.

They had difficulties and great moments but they were together, as a family, and that was all that mattered.

domingo, 21 de septiembre de 2014


Ariana took the lead tube from the floor. The man slowly stood up from the ground and looked at her, as if he wanted to kill her.

But she was beyond that. The girl tightened her hand around the tube and, before he could do anything, hit the man on the head once and again and again.

When she stopped, he was dead, his blood forming a small pond that grew larger by the minute. She ran from the place, not letting the tube go.

Half an hour later, she got to her house. She finally let go of the bloody tube that hit the floor hard. She slowly took her coat off, trembling a bit, remembering how he looked after she had killed him.

No, she didn't felt pity or remorse. She just couldn't. Ariana had promised herself never to be a victim again and she had taken steps for that not to happen. She went to a martial arts school and began doing yoga, although she failed miserably at the latter.

Fighting, the inexplicable drive she felt when hitting another body, was to her like a drug. A brand new one she discovered to be very addictive.

So that night, when she killed a man that had attempted to rape her, she felt powerful and strong, filled with adrenaline and ready to take the world by her rules and not by the ones society imposed. She was fed up by the feeling of fear and hopelessness. No, she decided to take action.

Many people, mainly man, were afraid of strong women. Days after the killing, she went out with a former lover called Richard, by her request. He had stated she was different somehow but that he liked it. She just smiled, not really understanding what he had meant.

News of the murder filled the papers soon but the man was a reported rapist and many of his victims were thankful for his demise. Some actually said they were happy as that was what he deserved. Others just wanted time to heal, both physically and mentally.

But Ariana had already healed, or at least that was what she said to herself. Before the first attack, the one that almost made her insane, she was just a fearful girls just sailing through life, not really counting on anything. The attack just made her even more shy, more scared and she even lost the will to live.

Now, however, she had taken the bull by the horns. Richard, now her boyfriend, was specially surprised by how much she had changed over the years. He knew hair as the bookish, rather dull girl in high school. To be honest, he never paid attention to her back then.

But now it was impossible not look at her: she had blossomed into this sexy and daring woman. Sex was wonderful and even better was sharing long talks with her. Ariana had always loved reading, so she had decided to open a small bookstore. She did it all by herself and just a year after she was a favorite in the neighborhood.

Richard moved in with her and they shared even more than before: travels, memories, experiences and more. One day she finally told him about her rape. Richard was an even better man that she taught. She kissed and hugged her and promised to be there forever.

Of course, sometimes she still remembered everything: the rape, the aftermath and the killing of that man, in a dark alley. That was her biggest secret and she never told anyone. Ariana never felt guilty for what she had done but she knew it was a sin with which she would have to live forever.

And she did. She lived a full life, doing what she loved, living life by her rules. The man that loved her shared her feelings for the beauty of life and the horrible events of her life never tainted the powerful drive to keep on going.

sábado, 20 de septiembre de 2014

The Summit

They were almost there. Raul, the guide, had said it was only a hundred meters or so to the tallest point. Or so they thought he had said. Hearing wasn't an easy task, as the wind blew stronger in the altitudes Breathing was also difficult and the freezing cold made it even harder.

It was the first time any of them, except Raul, had attempted to hike such a tall mountain. It had been called Ritacuba Blanco and the name was fitting: the place was covered in a think layer of snow, that confused every sense and the mind.

Again, Raul, who was the first in the line to the top, yelled something but this time no one heard him. The wind appeared to be muting all of the members of the team on purpose, although that was obviously preposterous.

They walked another fifty meters and then they understood what Raul had said. Laura, the scientist from Pasto, fell in a crevasse and pulled everyone else into it. Luckily, Raul and Juan had their tools ready and held strongly on the white floor. Fast, the others helped Laura getting out and avoided the crevasse. Franco put a red flag by the gap on the floor, pierced the snow with all his strength.

They continued for a few minutes until they made it to the top. Raul warned them, breathing with difficulty, that they could only stay for a few minutes. As they had no oxygen tanks, staying more than necessary could mean dying there or on the way down.

There were six explorers, seven with Raul. They all sat on some rocks that overlooked the cliff, on which the tallest point was located.

Juan, as experienced as he was, took just one moment to see the scenery and then went back to Raul and started talking about the descent. It wasn't that he took it all for granted, not at all. Juan was just thinking of so many things at same time and seeing mountains from the top of another mountain didn't do anything for him. He had a wife and a baby girl to think of. At the cost of loosing what he loved most, he had to choose either a well paid job or loosing them both.

Laura, however, sat on a rock and filled her lungs with the purest air she might ever breath. It was true that oxygen was scarce, was somehow it felt cleaner and better than anything else. She loved how the mountains looked and how beautiful the world looked like this, just peaceful. It was different of what she had known her whole life, and the fact that this beautiful place existed not that far from home, was overwhelming to her.

Luis, an mature hiker with a thick beard, inhaled too but many more times, as if he defied the world. Only Raul knew that Luis was dying of cancer in the blood and this journey was a way of saying to life "you can't beat me up". The mountains and what he saw weren't as beautiful to him as the fact of having being able to do it all on his own, this last few months. He was going to die, true. But he wanted to imprint his mark on the world.

Veronica, a geology student, had come with a camera and started taking pictures as soon as they had reached the summit. She was a cheerful photographer, having documented her life and her family's life in huge amounts of pictures. Digital or analog, she didn't care. She only cared about keeping memories alive forever and this was her way of doing so. She had lost her father recently, and he had promised to go hiking with him. She wanted to take the most beautiful pictures to honor her father's memory.

Marcos and Tomás thought of each other as brothers. They admired the view, never kneeling or crouching or sitting but standing up to it, taking it all in as if it was a gift that one couldn't just let pass by. Both men, still young but already working through life, had decided to take this trip to defy their bodies and test, once more, the limits of their friendship. Marcos and Tomás were not real brothers, not relatives by blood. They had lived together from a young age as orphans, on the streets and under the care of others. But they never let each other go.

The six visitors came to the mountain, each one with a kind of mission. Some of them were successful, others not so much. But what was valuable wasn't the physical prowess as such. It was the fact that they had decided to take a challenge in order to honor something, to be true to themselves.

As they returned to the base camp, near a beautiful blue lake, their lives seemed to have improved, at least a little, even for a tiny space of time. They had learned no one defies a mountain out of courage or for the need of glory. All who do it, do it just for the urge, the need to define who they are.

jueves, 18 de septiembre de 2014


She was kind, beautiful, joyful and full of good wishes for here people. And they loved her back, they admire her and girls wanted to be like her.

Anyone in the planet knew about the Empress, about Alysthina Jygda. Daughter of a butcher and a baker, she grew up in one of the many villages of the marshlands. Such a sad place wasn't the place one would expect to find such a beautiful girl, dedicated to the gathering of marshons, fruits that only grew deep in the wetlands. No one really knew how, but she was very skill at navigating his spaces and she was adored for this, as marshons were the primary export of the villages.

So beloved she was that, when the prince did his voyage around the planet to choose a bride, no one in the marshlands was surprised when he decided to take her as his bride. The wedding was majestic and she was even more beautiful, if that was people.

Time passed and the couple became emperor and empress and, about fifteen years later, he died diving for pearls in their summer house. A horrible death mourned by everyone, it was the stepping stone for Alysthina to become the ruler of the planet, the caretaker of every single thing in all of the lands.

But certainly, some did not really appreciate her skills and beauty. Although small, a group of people around the planet found hard to believe that the emperor had died in such and incident, specially knowing he had lived in those same islands when a youngster.

They also spread the idea that something was wrong with the empress: in roughly twenty years the planet had know her, she had barely aged, at least visibly. But people dismissed this idea by stating that she had "good blood".

No member of her original family was alive to see her enthroned, as her parents had died some years after her wedding, of old age, and she hadn't had any brothers or sisters or any other relative that was know. Her family now was her only child, princess Sygma. She was named by her father after the star that brought its heat to the planet. She was as beautiful as her mother but with some traces of her father's features.

One day, however, the princess also died. As stated by the Empress, she had wandered through a nearby forest, slipped on a rock near a river and hit her head on other rocks. Her burial was broadcasted planetwide but, oddly enough, the Empress seamed always calm and never dressed in black. Actually, she wore a stunning pearl white dress the her daughter's burial. People fell in love again with her, more than ever.

Months after that, an ambassador from a nearby world arrived to give the Empress the condolences of his world. He also gave her a present from his king: a beautiful necklace made only of rubies.

She was please by the gift but even more by the ambassador: a young, strong man with interesting new ideas. She seduced him and soon, she announced a wedding.

This was kind of a turning point for her. The people weren't really ready for her to remarry but there was nothing they could do.

The wedding, as expected, was magnificent. But something strange happened. The first night they would expend together as empress and emperor, changed the lives of everyone in the planet.

The man escaped the castle, frightened to death. He yelled and screamed through the nearby town, stole a starship and left the planet. Every one was confused by this until they discovered the reason he had left: the day after her wedding, Alysthina appeared with dark green skin and red eyes.

The reason of her youth was revealed: as a young woman she had given her life to Omaku, the god of evil. Why? she thought rulers had been neglectful to the planet and that she would make it all better. But the pact did not contemplate a second marriage and, least of all, for love. So he took away her beauty as payback.

The empress then became vengeful and the planet soon fell in the age of darkness, waiting for someone to liberate it from the good will but bad outcome of the wish of one woman stunning woman.

martes, 16 de septiembre de 2014


Chef Michel Jacquet was the best in his craft and there was overwhelming evidence of this all over his prized restaurant, the Austerlitz. Medals, cups, plaques and ribbons were displayed all over the dining hall, for every client to see.

This, of course, had not happened out of miracle. No. Michel was born a chef. From age five, he enjoyed staying at home with his mother and grandmother and see them planning breakfast, lunch and dinner. He was particularly fond of grand feasts that his family held every once in a while to celebrate important days as July 14th, every family member birthday or a town gathering which his family was always asked to cater.

He lived all of his childhood and teenage years in the small town of Vaite, relatively close to Germany and Switzerland. And during all those years he watched his mother do hundreds of dishes, as well as his grandmother and the baker, Monsieur Grand.

From Mr. Grand, he learned the art of pastries and by the age of fifteen he did the best éclairs Vaite could offer its few visitors and residents.

Encouraged by his mother, he left Vaite for Paris at age seventeen, to live with an uncle and learn the craft of the best teachers he could get. They were a middle class family but Michel had the advantage of being an only child so there was some money to spare on his education.

It was his dream to be on the Cordon Bleu school but the tuition was prohibitive and they only selected the best in all fields and Michel was only a skilled pastry maker. He had no idea of meat or fish or how to cook grandiose meals as his mother used to do.

The solution? Learn by himself. His uncle was a postman and left early and got in late. This time was used by Michel to watch all kinds of cooking shows on TV. He would also look for high cuisine books in a nearby library and would even come in the butcher's store to ask him to teach Michel how to cut pork, veal and lamb.

Believing to be ready, he went through the hard test in the Cordon Bleu. He was denied entrance and that put him in a severe depression that lasted for a couple of months. It was a hot summer but he wouldn't come out of bed. His uncle begged him to go out, meet girls and go dancing but Michel wasn't interested.

In order to stretch our of his misery, he looked for more schools and found Mrs. Villette school for cooking. True, it was a modest place to learn but according to many older students, Juliette Villette was among the best cooks in France but some bad reviews of her restaurant brought the place down and she decide to teach instead of fighting and ever demanding crowd.

Be that as it may, Michel excelled in all classes and soon got his diploma with the highest honors. Then, again, he applied for Cordon Bleu and failed once more. This time, however, he wasn't sad or disappointed. He had decided to be the best french cook to have ever lived and nothing would be able to stop him.

That was his turning point. He became obsessed with success and recognition. He went from loving cooking and food to just use them to surprise people and be loved as he had always wanted to be loved.

Although no one ever knew it, Michel had never really been physically attracted to anyone. He had never had the need for romantic love or sexual intercourse. But he was obsessed with people knowing who he was. This was likely to be a result of people never really believing in him, except his mother. He did not trusted people and had a passive aggressive behavior, that rarely bursted out.

He visited her only after he got his first restaurant job. He was sous-chef for Gaston Bisset, a respected chef in the city of Lyon. The man had seen Michel's talent and decided to hire him for his restaurante, the Licorne. When Michel told his mother the news, she just hugged him and kissed his cheek. It was all she wanted. After all, the father had died when Michel was very young and she had always regretted not giving him a sister or brother to share with.

In the Licorne, Michel excelled. He was fast, thorough and clean. His cuts were precise and his deserts found a place in the restaurant's menu. Everyone in Lyon knew of this young man that made the most delicious deserts.

Bisset soon became annoyed because everyone came to eat Michel's deserts and not his more recent creations such as lamb in tangerine sauce or his version of the popular ratatouille. No, everyone wanted an éclair or millefeuille from Michel.

The situation became tense. People saw them quarreling, yelling at each other and not talking to one another for days. It all ended one day when Bisset didn't show up and Michel had to take care of everything. Bisset was said to be very sick and Michel took this to his advantage: the Licorne was his. In one week, he created the most splendid dishes: salmon in lychee sauce, passion fruit chicken and macadamia nut ice cream on chia seed cake.

Bisset died. Officially it was a stroke. Some wanted Michel to stay in the Licorne but he decided to leave as he needed to create his own place and did so in the city of Quimper.

Not really known for its cuisine, Michel made the city renowned with the creation of Austerlitz, his restaurant. And that was how he got all the prizes and awards and how France and the world fell in love with his creations, in special his pastries.

Bu then, when all was great, Justine Bisset arrived went to Paris. She had seen her father in his last days and believed in her heart the stroke was just the final part of his death. She proceeded to sue Michel of killing her father.

Soon, the necessary evidence was gathered and, sure enough, the Austerlitz was lost, as Napoleon did many years ago. Justine cried in the court and explained how Michel poisoned her father in a moment of weakness and then proceeded to take over the Licorne. Michel always denied it all but the evidence was hard to overlook.

But he wasn't surrendering. In a stroke of genius, he escaped the police and the country. He grew a beard, started to exercise and opened a small pub in Scotland. Every now and again he made his amazing pastries for the townsfolk. And when someone was too disrespectful or didn't like his creations, he simply added a thin extra layer cream on his sweet works of art.

miércoles, 10 de septiembre de 2014

To Heal and Live

 * This piece of writing is dedicated to all young men and women that have died because of the narrow and hateful minds of others. Love and peace.

  We were never the kind to dwell on anything. It was simple really: we were officially not wanted anywhere in the world. It wasn't surprising or confusing, just a bit painful.

People in general didn't care. That had enough with the war ravaging life here and there. Human rights were not really on the top of the list of things people cared any more. They just wanted to live in peace, like before. We did too and that's how we decided to leave.

Eric had learned that Iceland was a safe haven for many people and was being overlooked. This wasn't World War II, planes didn't need to stop in the middle of the ocean as they could easily do the trip.
Besides, Iceland had signed a pact with the Confederation: they wouldn't mess with them as long as they didn't mess with Iceland. Fair enough. The Confederation wasn't really interested in them, at least not yet, as they had bigger fish to capture.

The day Eric got with the news of our future journey on the Aurora, a freight boat bound for Canada, it didn't came up as a surprise when we the news broadcasted live the invasion of West Africa by the Confederation. Horrible images of gruesome deaths and bombing were broadcasted daily and, as the country had surrendered to the confederation, they had to show it all, no editing.

We gathered the few possessions we still had, put them on one big suitcase and hugged goodbye our families. It was clear that it might be the last time we saw them, so we were sure to say it loud one last time, in case they died or we died. That was the reality of things.

For one whole day we hitchhiked to the coast. Many men and women were heading there: they thought that there was still a chance to head out of the country as the Confederation hadn't invaded yet. The government, strangely, didn't care or was sure no one would be successful. No one really knew.

I said goodbye to my city too. Bombings and rioting had left the mountains hollow at some points. It had always being a rather grayish city but now that gloomy ambiance was permanent and real.

The rest of the journey was easy: several days on the Aurora, helping the sailors and becoming sailors ourselves. We worked hard, helping with everything but we knew nothing of the sea. We didn't feel relieved when we got to Saint John: we had learned to loved the sea in just those few days and we felt the ocean might be the perfect getaway from the crumbling world around us.

But we had to go on. We were careful as the Confederation had been in control of the territory for quite some time but they still permitted life to go on as normal as it could. For three days, we avoided contact with anyone, hiding in almost destroyed buildings or in the surrounding wilderness. Finally, one night, we entered an oil tanker bound for Reykjavik and prayed for the boat to sail soon.

And it did. They discovered us but we begged for them to let us go as soon as we got to the mainland. Of course, we had to make an agreement: we were slaved for the duration of the journey. Everything from kitchen duties, to moping floors and cleaning bathrooms. I cried every night, wishing all would end. Eric couldn't infuse me with positivism as he felt exactly the same.

We we got to Iceland, we realized the journey wasn't over. The capital was filled with confederates and we needed to avoid them at all costs.

The truth is that we were part of the resistance, the one that existence for just a few weeks before the invasion of our country and the signature of the annexation treaty. A puppet president, a former president to be exact, was established and we became something less than a colony. Eric and I met for the first time after I had put a bomb on an official's car. He saved me from being arrested and I thank him for that up to this day.

We offered our work as fishermen and soon we had steady jobs, fishing herring of the coast. Our boss was a fat oppressive man, but he was fair nevertheless. He never missed a payment and even let us live on one of the boats.

Two months after arriving in Iceland, we were sent to Akureyri, a small port in the north coast. We sailed alone, the two of us in our boss's boat. I think that was when I really fell in love with Eric. The beautiful scenery, the relative calm and the fact that we could finally be open without anyone looking, pointing or eavesdropping, were all ingredients for it.

But life was a bitch with us, with all the letters. In Akureyri we met with the boss's son, who wanted us to fish in some dangerous places. We were obliged to do it as we had no papers and, officially, immigrants were banned. So we did it, we had to use explosives for fishing and I almost blew a hand off when using one.

It all ended one night, after we had arrived from our fishing trip. We were exhausted and in need of food. We didn't had much money so we shared a plate of herring and a beer. And then, again, the looks came back. It was like being in our country all over again. We finished fast and left the place.
A group of men followed us, surrounded us and beat the crap out of us, with a metal pipe and their arms and legs.

We thought that they were going to leave us there, in a dim lit street, but they decided to put us on one of their cars and rode for more than an our. I was on the edge of fainting but couldn't. Eric did faint but he was woken up when they got us out the car, by the road and the started again. They spitted us at the end and one of them peed on our heads. They laughed and threatened us and then they left. I finally fainted, wishing I was dead once again. I thought that if needed, I would kill myself if I woke up.

Sure enough, we didn't died. I woke up to a sniffing and licking dog. He was a shepherd dog. I recognized it as my grandfather had one when I was little. I could only open my eyes a bit but not talk or stand. I couldn't see Eric and I thought of his death. And I cried, with horrible pain all over.

So it happens, the dog's name was Odin, as the norse god. And his owners were farmers. They owned sheep in a small farm near Lake Logurinn. I have no idea how these two elderly people could do it but hey put both of us on the back of their car, alongside bags of manure and dog food. I fainted and had a an awful dream, of the beating and Eric dying. It seemed to go on forever until I woke up.

It was a beautiful little house, made of wood, as if it had been taken out of a fairytale. The room was small, only big enough for a double size bed and a furnishing with some drawers. After I had overcome the pain of my injuries, I noticed Eric sleeping besides me. He wasn't dead. I hugged him, hard, not caring for our physical pain. Him being there was everything.

We recovered slowly but steadily. Antonia and Carl told us we reminded them of their two sons that had left the country to fight the Confederation in Canada, some years ago. They decided to pick us up and help us as they thought of our parents.
We told them our story, nothing edited out of it and they offered us their home and kindness. They lived on the cotton they could sell and asked us for help so we learned the craft and in a few months we became farmers.

It was painful but, in order to fit in completely, I had to change my name. I became Johannes. Eric's name was just perfect, as he was after all that happened. Often alone on the hills and fields, we could really fall in love with each other. sharing every single part of our lives. And we were fine with it. Only taking his hand made me feel safe, even if this place seemed to have been forgotten by the world. The Confederation never came here, we were told by our friends, they only cared for resources and the vicinity was deprived of minerals or anything they would care to steal.

A year after our arrival in the country we were able to build a small house near our friends home. We did it ourselves with stones and wood. I think that helped us regain some trust in ourselves and makes us heal psychologically.

And that was our life. For five years, before the Big Battle, we were happy and everything was perfect. It wouldn't last forever but that wasn't important: we were given time with each other and to heal and I have always being grateful for that.

lunes, 8 de septiembre de 2014

The Gardens of Versailles

Windy and chilly. A typical parisian winter, or at least that's how it is at the beginning.

Today, Paul has got on a train to visit one of the most spectacular places in the world: the chateau de Versailles. A beautiful palace where the King once lived and the infamous Marie Antoinette lived her life, isolated from the rest of the people.

That's how you fell, after you've seen the museum and you start wandering through courtyards and gardens: you feel alone in the world, even if there are hundreds of tourists around

What Paul didn't expect was running into an old school mate. No, they were not friends. Far from that: they despised each other. Jonah was always the athletic jock, not that beautiful to be honest but always life of the party and center of attention. Paul was just the opposite.

Jonah was buying a sandwich from a lady in al old kiosk and then he saw Paul. And Paul saw him. It was one of those moments when time freezes because you don't really know how to react. It was too late to fake not seeing the other man and too strange of a situation to say anything.

It was Paul that came closer and bought a hot beverage from the same lady. It has to be said that he had being trying to change his elusive and shy self in order to be more assertive and spontaneous. So, when he saw Jonah, what would be more spontaneous than just greeting him, as if he was better than all that had happened in school.

To be honest, only discomfort happened. There were never awful jokes or nasty discrimination: it wasn't a movie high school or an american one for that matter. They just disliked each other and that was it.

Anyway, Paul greeted Jonah and Jonah responded. They asked for their respective lives: Paul was in Paris in a holiday. He lived in Berlin, working in a restaurant as an apprentice of the main chef. He had always loved food. On the other hand, Jonah lived in London and was working in a big advertising company.

They fake smiled and had small talk, walking along the path that lead to the Grand Trianon. They ate and drank their respective foods.

 - Did you come here by yourself? - said Jonah.
 - Yeah. You?

Jonah nodded. Paul didn't know but Jonah had a nervous crisis a year earlier. He had being in a relationship with a girl from school and realized he was bored to death by her. They had come together because of their "status" in life but that faded fast when they moved to London.
The separation broke Jonah as he didn't know where he stood. With difficulty and thanks to some friends and his work, he seemed to come back to life.

But he didn't say this to Paul. Only that he always wanted to visit the palace and see its grandeur at least once. Paul agreed: it was a personal dream of his to visit Paris, a well regarded place for food, and specially to walk through places so charged with history and beauty as these gardens.

After watching the furnitures and art inside the Trianon, they walked through the village created by Marie Antoinette to recreate a fairytale town, with animals and beautiful houses and even a pond.

There, Paul told the truth: he had suffered to much when caring for people and keeping the truth hidden, about his feelings and thoughts. So about six months ago he had decided he would change that and try to be more open and bold.

Jonah was curious.

 - Like what would you say then?
 - I had a crush on you in high school. I thought you were so perfect. I knew I could never be like you. It was weird.

And the Jonah kept asking why and how and when and Paul answered every questions as they fed some bread to the ducks and walked through narrow paths.

 They walked closely but never too close. They didn't say a word for several minutes as they walked to the front gate.

 - Would you take a drink with me? - asked Jonah.

Paul was confused. He hadn't had the intention of making Jonah feel bad or obliged somehow by his story. He expressed this to him as they neared Versailles-Rive Gauche train station.

 - It's not that... I'm just here 'till January 2nd and it would be nice to see the city with someone else. Don't you think so?

He certainly had a good point.

 - Ok. You're right. I was planning on scouting the left bank neighborhoods tomorrow.
 - That's great. But first a drink.

An hour later they were drinking wine in small bar were they chatted for several hours. So many hours that the owner had to ask them to leave as he had to close the establishment.

A bit drunk and all talkative, Jonah confessed to Paul he was glad to find him in Versailles. Paul only thanked him and abruptly changed the subject, a little bit annoyed to feel good about revisiting his past.

Paul invited Jonah to his hotel were they ate bread and jam and two more bottles of wine.

It wasn't strange when, after two bottles and only a few hours until sunrise, Paul kissed Jonah and the former jock stood still. Paul was ashamed and Jonah was speechless. He decided to grab his coat and leave.

Paul barely slept, all alcoholic intoxication lifting from his body by the thought of his mistake. He had gone to far and he had to learn from it. So much for the walk around the Rive Gauche.

After lunch time, he decide that walking would be better than staying at home. As he put on his coat, the phone rang. It was the front desk lady stating someone was waiting for him downstairs.

Indeed, waiting by the travel brochures, there was Jonah.

 - We should visit Montparnasse Tower. They say the view is great.

And there they went. The day was gray and gloomy but it went perfect as they slowly became friends. No mention was made of the kiss, not once all day.

But the truth is that when they parted in the airport days later, Jonah eyes were watery and Paul had memorized Jonah's scent. They shook hands, as if they had always being great friends and then went on with their lives, each one changed a bit by a casual and random encounter in a place full of magic.