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

sábado, 17 de diciembre de 2016

Friends & Secrets

   It was very problematic for Sean to admit that his life had improved dramatically since he had joined the gym. He didn’t want to tell anyone about it and only went there once a day, six days a week. Of course, sometime people would ask him where he was and what he was doing, but he had created the illusion that he was attending cooking lessons at a school that happened to be in the neighboring building of the gym. The smell of warm and fresh croissants was almost constant and made almost impossible to focus on one's obliques.

 Sean had never been the kind of guy that went to the gym and cared about his body. Earlier in his life he openly mocked those who took too much care of their bodies and looks. To be fair, he still mocked only that he refrained himself from saying anything out loud because he would really look like a hypocrite if he said something. The difference was the he didn’t exercise because he wanted to look better but because he wanted to feel better, which were too different things. Most of the people there were just show offs that already had a great body.

 Since he was a little boy, he had loved eating candy. His favorites were salted caramel and chocolate. His life wasn’t complete when he was at school if he didn’t have a piece of chocolate with his lunch. It was kind of a ritual, a weird tradition that he had with himself. He kept that for years, until very recently. Actually, some of his friends had begun wondering what had happened to the chocolates he always ate and also about the ones that he kept all over the house in case he wanted something sweet to enhance his day.

 All of those chocolates had disappeared and no one really understood why. Some were not idiots and had realized Sean had lost some weight and, weirdly enough, he looked as if he had grown taller and bigger but not in a bad way. They asked him about it and he only answered he didn’t really knew why and that he partially blamed work and the classes because of the tension he went through every single day. Stress could be a powerful force and could certainly be blamed for many things, so it was a nice save that not everyone bought.

 One of those who hadn’t bought into the story was Billy. He had noticed something really strange one day they were at Sean’s apartment watching a movie. At one point, they were having popcorn and Sean asked if they wanted more. Of course, everyone said yes. To be funny, Sean raised his hands in the air and exaggerated a positive response. It was then when Billy saw it: Sean’s shirt had been raised and instead of a normal belly, he saw a body in the process of getting really ripped. He knew his friend had never been like that.

 Many times before they had taken trips all together. Billy knew his friends bodies, not because he had an obsession with them or anything but because he had seen them in their trunks and bikinis. He knew what they look like. So the new appearance of Sean’s body was a very big surprise for him. Now that he was thinking about it, he remembered that Sean had not attended their last trip to the beach. He had told them that he didn’t feel quite right but when they came back he looked exactly the same, like a normal healthy person.

 Billy decided to follow Sean one day. He worked for his father so he asked him for a day off from the office in order to attend some personal business. His father never asked many questions and agreed almost immediately. They following day, he woke up really early and decided to follow Sean by bike. He decided not to take the car as he suspected Sean would know it was him if he saw it. The first time he saw Sean that day was at seven o’clock, time he left at for work. He stayed in his office until midday, when he came out to lunch.

 It was then when he saw the first red flag: Sean had never been the type to eat big pieces of meat or a large portion of anything. He knew how to choose what his body was capable of consuming. However, he had never been the type to refrain himself from eating something delicious, even if hat something was not especially good for you. Billy remembered fondly the time the two of them had eaten a big plate full of spicy hot wings by themselves, no beverages or carrot sticks with ranch sauce. That had been a fun day.

 But now, he noticed that Sean had bought a salad for lunch, a salad that didn’t even had a piece of chicken or bacon or anything. And the worst part of it all was that he really seemed to be enjoying himself while eating it. Sean stopped looked from a distance and thought that maybe he was been too judgmental and a tad exaggerated. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all if Sean was taking care of himself. He was trying to feel better or maybe it was that he wanted to look hotter or even that he was dating and he wanted to look great for that person.

 That all went to the mental garbage when Billy saw Sean pulling a bottle of water from his backpack and drinking from it. That was just ridiculous. One thing was to take care of his body and all of that but drinking plain water with a lunch that consisted mostly on a bunch of leaves only a turtle would eat, was just insane. Billy thought that there was something really wrong with his friend because he had never seen him like this. Something had to be wrong, that was clear. But what could it be or why could it be?

 After waiting for several hours in a café across the street, Billy followed Sean again and the next destination, to no surprise, was the gym. Granted, it was not the type of gym that had many windows and looked more like a giant fish tank than like a human building, but nevertheless it was a strange thing. Billy decided to go in, as he would see nothing from outside. Of course, he had to pretend he was interesting in joining because otherwise he wouldn’t have been allowed entrance. A trainer showed him round but he didn’t really listened.

 He only saw Sean many minutes later, working out on a huge machine that seemed to be used to help exercise the abdominal area. He had no trainer besides him and seemed to be focusing a lot on what he was doing. For Billy, the sight was really strange but not because it was his friend but because he had never seen someone so focused to do something like that. For a moment, he even thought it was quite admirable that Sean had decided to take on such a challenge, but moments later he felt betrayed again, as a friend.

 He decided to confront Sean. He ditched the trainer telling him he would join after walking around alone and then walked, almost ran, straight to where Sean was. As expected, Sean was quite taken aback when he saw his friend standing there. But then he decided to finish his exercise and then finally stand up, sweating more than he would have wanted to in that moment. The two friends looked at each other and didn’t say a word, not until someone dropped a weight somewhere, slamming his foot. They both laughed, which eased the tension.

 Sean explained to his friend that he had always had self-esteem problems, going back to his high school days. He had always felt fat and ugly and he recently had realized he could actually do something about it. He had begun exercising over a year ago but the change in food had been done very recently. He didn’t call it a diet because he ate as always on weekends and he couldn’t say he was going vegan or vegetarian because his favorite meals consisted of pork chops in a pineapple sauce. Anyway, he was trying something to help him achieve his goal.

 He told Billy he was sorry for lying but Billy interrupted him saying he was a bad friend for never having really talk about their past in a much more open way. If they had, he would have known his buddy’s struggles and could even have helped him. He told Sean he was sorry and then hugged him, which was a first for the two as they had always been the kind of buds that only shake hands. It was a new beginning to their friendship, a much needed one.

martes, 23 de agosto de 2016

End of a marriage

   The alarm of the oven rang right when it was expect. Linda wiped her tears out of her face and turned from the window to the oven. With her oven mints on, she took out a pretty big glass container in which a very thick lasagna was still bubbling in. The cheese had melted beautifully and the top was golden and just perfect. Through the glass, it was easy to see that the lasagna was made of several layers of vegetables and grinded beef and cheese. Linda was very proud of herself as she put the container on a wooden surface in order to let it cool down a bit while she served the rest of the dinner.

 Her husband entered the kitchen in silence. It was very obvious he didn’t know what to say. She didn’t really wanted to speak so she focused her attention on two medium sized plates, where she served a copious amount of salad made of a variety of green leaves, tomatoes, olives, cheese cubes and other small elements. She put the two plates on the table in front of the kitchen and her husband sat down immediately, without saying a word. He didn’t started eating or anything, he just waited there, turning around to see through the window every five seconds, as if he was afraid someone would appear out of nowhere to steal his food or something.

 Linda also turned around a lot while cooking, but she seemed to be better at ignoring whatever it was they were ignoring. She then started cutting the lasagna into pieces, placing two big squares on each of their plates. She put those two plates on the table too and then paused for a moment, to think what else she was supposed to do. It was her husband who stood up and ran towards a cabinet to take out a bottle of wine some friend of theirs had given them several months ago, after said person had returned from a trip to France.

 Linda remembered the bread. She took out of the cupboard, sliced some pieces and grated a lot of garlic into each piece. Then she put the bread in the microwave, as doing it in the oven would take much too long and she was seriously hungry now. Her husband Matt poured the wine into two glasses and put them on the table with the bottle, in case they wanted to have a bit more with their food.

 The sound of the microwave cooking the bread was the only thing they heard for a while. Matt sat down again, looking very tense. Linda looked at the floor as she waited for the sound. She just looked at a very small ant that was crossing the floor and she the imagined the life of that ant, all that that it had done in its short life. The microwave’s ring brought her out of her imagination. Linda put down the bread on the table, which smelled delicious, and finally sat down in front of her husband. They finally looked at each other.

 Both of their reactions were to cry. But they didn’t do it loudly or anything, they just had tears coming down their faces like a small river pouring out of their eyes. Their nose got congested and then each one of them had to stand up and run to the nearest bathroom to get some toilet paper. Once there, they just hugged. They hadn’t done that in a long time but it felt really good to finally do it, to finally feel they were together in this and that nothing could change that. They held hands and tried to tell each other how they felt but words seemed to be lacking power in those moments. Words were not important anymore.

 They went back to the table and decided to eat as if it was a normal dinner, although this one was much earlier. Outside, the sun was bright and even some birds sang. There was not a soul in sight but that was very understandable. Around there, only Linda and Matt had stayed behind in order to have one last beautiful romantic dinner and they did try to make it very nice and delicious. Actually, the first thing that Matt said when they came back from the bathroom was that it all smelled delicious and it definitely did.

 The first course was the salad. It had every single vegetable that they had left so there were pieces of onion, carrots, pepper, cucumber and several others of which there were only small pieces in the fridge. Linda had grabbed all those pieces and had cut them and put them together on a big bowl. She then had put on them some salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil to make it taste even better. Matt said it was the best salad he had ever eaten and maybe he was being honest because in all the years Linda had known him, he had never eaten a salad, not even a piece of tomato.

 As they ate, they remained in silence but it was Matt, uncomfortably clearing his voice, who asked Linda if she liked fruit in her salads. She thought it was a very strange question but the moment that they were living was much too weird and particular to ignore any questions. So she thought of her answer for a moment and then told her husband that she had eaten some salad with fruits on it and that she had liked them but that not all combinations worked. For example, she liked a Moroccan one that came with couscous and raisins, which were basically sweet as fruit, and she had loved that. But in a wedding when she was young, she was served a salad containing lettuce and other such common things on a salad but with strawberries, mango and apple. She almost vomited that salad.
 Matt laughed hard at her anecdote, as he hated salads with fruits on it too. So, while they ate their salads, they discussed how disgusting it was too find something too sweet on a plate that wasn’t supposed to be sweet. The ambiance got much more relaxed.

 Then came the lasagna and they were surprised to realize that they were very hungry. The two pieces Linda ad put on each plate were just the beginning for each one of them as they cut and served even more pieces as their conversation changed subjects once and again. They talked about Italy too and how its food was probably the best in the world. Then they chatted about spicy foods and how spicy they liked their food, if they actually like to feel that burn in their mouths.

 As they ate their pieces of lasagna, the couple became more like the people they had used to be all those years ago when they had first started dating. They were deeply in love but also very interested in each other, so much so that they had every single kind of question to make to the other person. It was so much like that that they switched their conversation from food to their teenage years. Matt wanted to know how young Linda was the first time she kissed a boy and she surprised him by saying that the first person she had kissed had actually been a girl in her class when she was around nine or ten years old. She explained that they were really good friends and that it had seemed natural at the moment. No one ever knew about it until then.

 Matt was surprised and even toasted to that anecdote as he found it very cute. He told his wife that his first kiss with a boy had happened very late in life, in college. She was amazed to know that because she had met him in college but he explained it had been in the first few years in a party. He never saw the guy again because he retired or something but he had kissed him out of a drunken stupor.

 Linda also toasted to that, happy to know more about her husband, even if at that moment that knowledge was going to be useless. They finished the lasagna and decided not to clean the dishes and, instead, they took the bottle of wine and one of champagne to the second floor of the house, where they had a nice little deck overlooking the street and the sunset. They drank the whole bottle of wine as they talked and talked and by the time they opened the champagne, they were able to hear a far away alarm.

Then, they saw it in the sky, as night had fallen. It could be seen clear and so close, much closer than they had thought it would be. They poured they champagne into their glasses and toasted to their life together and their love, just as the ball of fire passed above them making a very loud sound. They drank the whole glass and then kiss passionately for the first time in a very long while. The ball of fire touched down several kilometers to the south but the result of the impact was instantaneous: an very violent earthquake, a cloud of smoke and dirt and then, nothing.

martes, 16 de agosto de 2016

When in Rome...

   The first thing I heard was the automated voice indicating people if they had to stand on the doors on the left or the right. I heard the sound as if it was coming from a place very far from me but then it seemed to become clearer. That made me open my eyes and then I realized I was in one of the metro trains I had used years earlier to get to know the city of Rome. People were talking amongst themselves, some tourists were looking at a map above one of the doors and a small child looked at me straight in the eye.

  I decided to stand up and get out of the train as soon as possible. There was another audio automated service and then the train entered a station. I didn’t really see the name of the station I was in. I only wanted to run away from that underground location in order to check out something above ground and feel a little les intoxicated. When I finally got out to the street, I felt very dizzy, my legs had problems letting me stand up and every sound and image apparently adjust itself in a few seconds.

 There was a park bench near the exit of the station and I decided to use it because I wasn’t feeling good at all. I felt my head was spinning around. Besides, everyone around me spoke a language I didn’t know and I didn’t really felt safe speaking to them in English. I felt I had forgotten everything about myself. I tried to remember what I was doing before appearing on the subways but I couldn’t remember.

 A young nun then came up to me and said something in Italian. She spoke very slowly for me to understand what she was saying but it wasn’t good enough for me. Anything that involved thinking hurt too much. She decided to give her hand and I grabbed it without thinking it much. She made me walk around a beautiful but very lonely neighborhood until we arrived to a very typical Roman house with an inner patio. I didn’t know much about religious people but that must have been a convent.

 She fed me and gave me something to read as he washed my clothes on a very modern washing machine. I waited on my underwear in the kitchen and was very ashamed when a group of four nuns entered the kitchen and I was there naked, reading a magazine. The nun that had saved me, I think her name was Angela, appeared out of nowhere and explained the situation to the rest of the sisters.

 They decided to give me a room for the night, as the weather was not as sunny as before and the clothes may take a longer while to be ready. I couldn’t deny the offer, even if I had wanted too. But I didn’t because in that place I felt the peace I needed to organize who I was before appearing on that city and why that had happened.

 That night was very strange. I was assigned one of the cells in the upper floors, were formerly the new novices slept before they were fully accepted as nuns. Sister Angela explained to me that they hadn’t had a new girl in a long time, as she had been the last one. The woman looked in her late thirties and explained further, commenting that girls nowadays had no desire to get in contact with their religious roots and have a life of celibacy and dedicated to the Lord.

 Through the very small window in my room, I was able to see the moon. It looked so beautiful but at the same time a little bit false. I pinched my hand in order to know if I hadn’t been dreaming or something but it didn’t work. I was really in that small room and had to get used to the idea of not remembering anything about my past o at least not in a very obvious way. I was lost, technically, and had to wait and see what I could do to go back to wherever I was before.

 I slept strangely at peace. My eyes closed early and I woke up early too. Normally, I would require several hours to feel rested but in that moment I felt I could take on the whole world by myself. It was a very nice feeling that I had never really experimented before. Normally I woke up much more tired than I was before going to bed. I guessed it had something to do with the strict code the nuns had going on there but I also expected it to be something related to the fact that I was in blank, no memories inside.

 The next day, I put on my clean clothes and they all came to the door to bud farewell to me. They were all very kind people and I would have loved to see more of them, maybe take a picture. But somehow, I didn’t think of that then. It would have been the best proof to guarantee that what had happened had not been a dream or an illusion caused by my mind. I waved at them as I walk further away from the convent, until I didn’t see them anymore and realized how lonely I felt, again.

 After walking a little bit more, I arrived in a square: it was very beautiful and tourists were all over the place taking pictures and discussing the shapes and sizes of the figures in the fountains. I was trying to understand what a couple was saying near me when I heard a voice, a very strong male voice coming from somewhere. At first, I couldn’t tell what he was saying. Then, I understood he was saying my name.

 I looked around for the owner of the voice but there was no one that seemed to have that very deep register near where I was. Besides, no one seemed to be looking at me, ignoring the fact that I was there as if my existence bothered them so much that they had decided to ignore until I decided to disappear.

 That happened a few seconds later, when the voice called upon me again and I understood that it was calling me from very far. Walking rather slowly, I was able to follow the deep voice saying my name. I walked through deserted streets, packed avenues and beautiful gardens until I reached some long and white stairs. The bright sun above made them look as if they were from glass.

 The voice called upon me again, urging me to come to him fast. His message to me had changed so I knew I was very near. When I arrived at the top of the staircase, I realized there was a museum up there. There was a small square and on one side the entrance and on the other side, the exit of the museum. The voice appeared to be coming from the exit so I walked towards there.

 Beyond the machines that controlled the exit process of the museum, there was a fountain and I realized the voice was coming from there. But there was a security guard nearby and the only way I could’ve entered the museum was by jumping over the machines. I decided to pretend I was reading some pamphlets they had on a table by the door. The guard finally moved, in order to face towards the inner courtyard of the museum. I took my chance and jumped, landing silently on my feet.

 I wanted to scream in celebration because I had never done anything so cool in my life, but I realized it wasn’t really the place and the moment for that. So I turned around and walked towards a small garden they had by a room filled with sculptures. The faces of those objects seemed to be looking at me but I knew the voice was coming from a fountain in the garden. Sure enough, there was a huge figure of the God of the seas, Poseidon, on the fountain.

 The figure did not move but it did talk to me. He told me the Gods had decided to bring me to Rome in order to let me know everything was going to be all right. When I heard that, I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or punch the statue or what. I got closer to the water and the figure told me that I was there by choice and that I could’ve left at any moment, if I had wanted to leave.

 As I heard that, I felt dizzy again and then the world became blurry for an instant. Then everything went dark, I felt my head hitting something and then my eyes opened once again. I had fallen from my bed, my insane dream having finished. I was covered in sweat and had to go to the bathroom to clean myself, ignoring the metro card that fell with me from the bed to the floor.

sábado, 30 de julio de 2016

Paradise is not safe

   The sandstorm was slowly subsiding. For a couple of hours, every grain of sand in the desert had been lifted and sent several kilometers further from where it had been for months. Storms were not uncommon as the desert had them very often, especially in the summer month when the weather there got even worse.  It was a dangerous and unforgiving place, but it could also be beautiful and peaceful.

 There was a small oasis, containing a rather large pond, which had resisted to the wind and the forces of nature. To any traveller, it surely seemed like an illusion because it wasn’t very common to see all that water in the middle of the desert. A flock of orange birds arrived just as the sand settled, sitting on the palm trees and, from time to time, flying low over the pond to get their feathers wet in order to clean them.

 It was a small paradise. Some hours later, another creature came close to the oasis. It was a human and it was wearing a full mask over the face but, whoever it was, also had uncovered arms and tight pants that were smeared with mud and sand dust. The human was riding a camel, which was barely walking. As resistant as they were, it was clear this one had gone through a lot and really needed to get rest. Just a few meters away from reaching the pond, the came collapsed and the human hit the ground hard.

 For a long time, maybe a couple of hours, the person stayed there, with the face on the sand and the legs crossed in a very weird angle. The camel had stopped breathing the moment it collapsed. Whoever that person was, there was no ride that could take him or her back to civilization. Now, the desert had become even larger with the death of the camel. But nature and the orange birds ignored this. To them, it was all the same.

 When the human woke up, it ran to the water, fast, as if something was very wrong. It moved a lot in the water. Apparently, removing the mask was much harder that envisioned. After a few minutes of struggle, a shorthaired woman came out of the water and sat on the edge of the pond. She had to cut through the mask with her nails and she had hurt herself a bit by doing so as the material had become difficult to breath in because of the sand.

 She looked around, watching the orange birds and her dead ride, as well as some small twister far in the distance. The storm had not entirely died out. But that wasn’t really the problem. The real problem was being in the middle of nowhere with no way to survive. She looked at her reflection on the water and saw the small cuts she had given herself with her fingernails. She also realized how tired she looked and how her arms were burned by the very hot desert sun.

 Unwilling to stay put, she decided to dig with her own hands a grave for the camel. It was not only out of respect, but also because she didn’t want certain animals to come there looking for a meal. Burying her camel was hard, as it had been a gift from a person that had saved her some days ago and now that gift had left her stranded in the middle of nowhere. She actually had no idea who that person was because, as she was, the person also had a covered face. But the woman felt it had been another female prisoner back in that place.

 All kinds of memories were rushing back to her head and dug the grave: she had been a long time on a prison right there in the desert. It was run by legionnaires, men that were dedicated to the preservation of those colonies, places where they had no place to be in but there they were. Besides, she knew they hated woman because female prisoners always had worse punishments if they did something wrong. For stealing a loaf of bread for example, a woman would be flogged in the yard twenty times. A man would only get one punch in the stomach and that was it.

 But one night, something had happened. Apparently the prison had been attacked by desert dwellers and it the chaos, the woman that had given her the camel had appeared and liberated her from her chains. She helped her getting some clothes too and the mask in order to survive the harsh conditions of the desert.

 The shorthaired woman dragged the camel centimeter by centimeter, being a very heavy creature. She knew it was a waste to bury it and not eat it but she had no knife or a way to make fire. She couldn’t keep the creature’s milk and grease anywhere so there was no point in letting the camel there for the scavengers to eat. It took her several hours to get the animal in the hole she had done and some more time putting sand all over it. Finally, she rested on top of the mound she had created, shocked by the fact that she was hopeless.

 She really tried to remember her name, something that was so essential and obvious but she had no idea what it was. She had no idea either of how she had arrived to that prison. It was possible that the woman had been a thief or some sort of criminal but she really had no recollection of anything before the prison. The only image she had very clear on her mind was the one of the whole compound burning as the night became darker and she rode of on the camel. For a moment, she had wanted to go back and pick up the person that had saved her but, whoever it was, had disappeared in a matter of seconds. She wanted to thank that person, do it with her voice because she hadn’t spoken a word. But it was too late.

 Looking at the water again, she decided to take off her clothes and have another swim, this time to really clean herself up and feel like a human being again. Not that she remembered how to feel like one, but maybe she could have a revelation while in the middle of the pond. She left the tight and brown clothes near the camel mound to dry and then walked the few steps that separated her from the water. As her feet got wet again, she felt better than in any other moment in the past few months. When her whole body was in, she felt new.

 The woman sunk her head in the water and stayed there for a few seconds, realizing how great it felt to have the sun on her skin and her body all wet at the same time. She felt like a person, very different from what she had felt like in prison. She tried not to think about that, not to remember the atrocities she had lived through but it was impossible. It was the only life that she knew: the mistreatment, the dark cells, the lack of food and water, the laughs of the guards and the feeling that she was never going to see anything else than that awful place.

 A howl was heard on the wind. All thought of the prison vanished. She stood still in the water, waiting to confirm if what she had heard was real or if she had imagined it. No, there it was again. She got out of the water fast and realized it would take a while to get dry. Besides, she had no ride so she couldn’t go far. Another howl made her desperate, looking all over the place for an answer that didn’t seem to be coming fast enough. What should she do?

 The howling creature was a man, the leader of the guards in the prison. He rode a stallion, as well as the two other men that came with him. He arrived at the oasis at very high speed, which scared the orange birds from the palm trees. The three men descended from their horses and let them have a drink of water as they had a drink from the bottle they had on their waist. They also had a gun each on their belts and one of them used it to shoot a bird that had not flown. The little body dropped into the water, almost silently.

 The three men walked around the oasis and took random shots at the ground and the water. Then, their leader howled again, as they came full circle around the pond and reached their horses again. They left in a huff, the orange birds arriving shortly after.

 It was then when the woman stood up from the sand, having been breathing through a small whole which the men had ignored. They were obviously looking for escaped prisoners, which meant she wasn’t far enough from them. She unearthed her clothes from the ground, put them on and started walking. Maybe she had no chance but she couldn’t stare there forever. Paradise was not safe.