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

miércoles, 11 de noviembre de 2015

Fish market

   When Brody woke up, the light entering his room was practically nonexistent. The only object illuminating his room was the alarm clock he had always had beside the bed. He sat on his bed for a few minutes and just stayed there, fighting the urge to fall asleep. But finally he put his two feet out of bed and walked towards the bathroom. There, he woke up even more due to the light, which was very bright. He had thought of buying another light bulb for the bathroom but he always forgot. He removed his boxers and let the water run in the shower. When it was warm, he entered half asleep, almost leaning too much against one of the shower’s walls. He didn’t really want to go to work. He just wanted to fall asleep for several hours and only wake up when he was fully rested.

 But that wasn’t happening. He got in front of the water, in order to wake up properly and spend the following five minutes trying to wake up the rest of his body. When he got back to his room, towel around his body, there was still no light outside. The world was submerged in the darkness and he was one of those unfortunate souls that had to wander through the lack of light in order to earn a living. Or something like that, anyway. He let the towel fall to the ground and then spent some minutes looking for clothes. The proof that he was still asleep was that he dressed up in the weirdest way: he put on a t-shirt first, and then the socks followed by a jacket. Then he got to his boxers and finally some pants. He almost forgot to put on underwear but he realized it in time.

 When he was finally ready, he came out of his room and into a small room outside where the kitchen was. The apartment was not very big but it was just the size he needed it to be. He could bring friends and have some beers but it wasn’t the best place for a party, even if he had already tried (often), to have some of those in there. He drank orange juice straight from the bottle and then grabbed the milk and poured some into a cup. He had it with cereal, eating standing up and closing his eyes from time to time. He so wanted to sleep. And it wasn’t only because he was tired but because he remembered bits and pieces of a great dream he had been having and he knew it was one of the good ones.

 When he finished eating, he went back to his bathroom and brushed his teeth. As he did, he looked at his face and did funny faces in order to make himself laugh or at least attempting to make his eyes look a little bit more open. But it was to no avail. He finally took a backpack from the floor of his bedroom and then just went out the door. He went down the stairs rather fast and at the bottom he received a powerful gust of wind right in his face. It was very cold and already blue outside, not yet full of light but in an annoying twilight that could last a couple of hours. He closed his jacket and walked on.

 The bus was always on time and that day it wasn’t the exception. People were already making a line to get into it so he almost got to stay because of how filled with people the bus was. He had to take a little space at the back, between the window and an elderly woman that smelled a lot like onions. He was thankful the trip was not that long, or he would have collapsed due to the odor. Maybe she was from a region where they grew a lot of onions because she wasn’t carrying a bag with them or anything. He looked at other people in the bus and there were any like him: head going from side to side, eyes closing for a few seconds, then opening as if nothing had happened. There was a young student already fast asleep. He felt sorry for him, as it was likely he would overshoot his stop.

 Finally, the bus arrived at his destination: the market. The place was very active already, even for the hour. Most people were owners of the stands. With the help of their employees, they were filling their areas with fruits and vegetables and many other delicious things to eat like mushrooms and dried fruit. He had to walk past all of that area to get to the next building, where he had to work. It was the place where the meat and fish were sold. The stand he worked at was in an intersection of paths, which was perfect for business, as every single shopper would see their products, no matter the way they were coming from. The owner complained a lot but he was pretty successful.

 When Brody arrived, he told him he should have arrived sooner as it was the day they got fresh octopus. And when he said fresh, he meant alive. It was Brody’s job to get those creatures into a tank in order to have them in display like lobsters. He actually didn’t like to do that because it reminded him a lot of those movies that show how everything once when there was slavery. Of course an octopus is not a person but he felt back for the poor fellow anyway. He put on his boots, apron and “mouth cover” and started helping his boss putting everything into display. Fortunately, the boss decided to fight the octopus himself, so he didn’t have to experience that sad episode again.

 All fish were in boxes and he just had to put them on the ice over the refrigerator where every single costumer could see how fresh and clean and beautiful everything was. It was a nice thing to do and he was already used to the smell. He sometimes did some changes in the display, forming words with the fish and he always did it without the permission of his boss. For a person that claimed to be in control of everything, he never realized what was going on in his own stand. The truth was he always negotiating and going around asking if other had made more money than him and what new products were being sold.

 The morning rush started just as the only octopus of the day was finally inside his enclosure and all the rest of his marine friends were well displayed in the stand. Just then arrive Marcus, a huge man that spoke once every year, which happened to be the one to cut, chop and gut every single fish that was going to be sold. He never helped organize things and he always left before the boss could ask him to help them clean. That was Brody’s job and also cashier and actual salesman. He convinced people to shop there and he gave them the best deals, trying to make them good for the boss too but sometimes just looking to sell something as he knew his salary depended a lot on how many fish got to leave in some old lady’s bags.

 It started a bit slow but as natural light grew larger in the outside, the more people came in to buy their rations of seafood for the day. In the stand, they did not only sell fish and octopus but also clams, squid, mussels and many other creatures. As more and more people started to come in, Brody had a nicer time. It was fun to explain to people the differences between some types of fish and others and how they could cook them and make a delicious seafood soup. Many were actually surprised he knew so much about cooking. The thing was he had decided to learn all he could about what he was selling and the natural thing was also to learn how to cook what he was selling. At home, he had already tried every recipe he recommended and it was always a success.

 In the afternoon, things began coming to an end. People had already had lunch and very few buyers bought fish for dinner so late. They came for it in the morning. So at four or five in the afternoon, depending of the day, they closed shop, put into boxes everything that had not being sold and began cleaning their stands with hoses as fish guts had to be pushed into a main drain. It was Brody who did all of that because Marcus left and his boss was too busy trying to calculate how much money he had made in one day. The octopus was the last one to be put away. Thankfully for him, no one had wanted to cook him for a meal.

 Thirty minutes after closing, Brody cleaned his boots and apron, put them in the backpack and bid farewell to the boss. He hoped for Friday to come soon as he got his paycheck then. He had worked hard all month and, as he walked towards the bus stop ( again in the twilight), he repeated his plans in his head: he wanted to be a chef and had to get the right amount of money to study to be one of the best cooks in the country. Inside the bus, people moved because he still smelled like fish. He didn’t mind, it was an acquired taste. When he got home he enjoyed a warm shower and got into bed early, without eating. He had to save money and he couldn’t afford dining every day.

 His dream was the most important thing to him and he was willing to sacrifice a bit of himself in order to get access to it. Before falling asleep, however, his only thought was a clam chowder, nice and warm, with all the proper ingredients.

lunes, 15 de diciembre de 2014

Freedom in Chiyoda

Kumiko had already bought every single thing she needed to cook her mother's favorite dish: a soup filled with several types of seafood, native of her birth city. She boarded the train and sat down calmly: the trip was a long one, as her home was near the terminus station.

She decided to check her emails on her smartphone but a strange sound distracted her as she drew the phone out of her backpack. She looked up and stared at the people in the train with her: they were all distracted by their mobiles phones, some others were sleeping or trying to. She grabbed her phone and then heard the sound again. It came from inside her backpack, most precisely from the bag with all the things she had bought at the market. She tried to hear the sound again but nothing happened so she zipped the bag up and left it on the ground.

As she checked some messages, she heard another noise, this time from somewhere on the floor. As the wagon was filled with people, it was hard to determine its origin. Kumiko looked at every shoe and foot around her but couldn't see a thing.

"I must be very tired", she thought. She had been working too hard on her thesis, staying at home for days without ever going out or resting properly. She would fall asleep very late at night and wake up early to investigate and structure her work. Her mother would cook delicious things for her but she never finished any of them. To be honest, she always left more than half of what was served to her because the thesis absorbed her attention.

In a nutshell, she had been a zombie for almost a month. But the day before, she had finally finished it and today she had delivered it to college and, after that, had the idea to make her mother an special dinner, as a way to thank her for her support and understanding.

But all that was now on the back of her head. That sound, that strange sound that she could hear every so often, had taken the first place in her list of priorities. Maybe she had gone crazy from so much work... But it came again, she could hear it. Not able to stand it anymore, she stood up, her backpack tight on her body and followed the particular sound.

It was something small, on the floor. Kumiko could see she wasn't the only one hearing the sound: a little girl was staring at the floor without saying a word and an older gentleman was staring at the roof, most likely trying to remember if he had ever heard that same sound.

Then, Kumiko heard a scream. It was a crazy scream to be honest, she even thought someone was been killed or stabbed or mugged but it was nothing like that. She ran towards the woman that had screamed and she was pointing to the floor. So... that was it.

On the floor, crawling slowly, was a tiny octopus. It looked wet, slimy and weird. The woman screamed again and Kumiko put a hand over her ear: too much exaggeration for such a small and defenseless creature. He must have escaped the cup the vendor had put him in. And Kumiko had asked for fresh octopus so he had taken it a little bit to literal. She started to reach down for it but then the train slowed down: it was nearing a station.

The girl only stared at the window for a single second but that was enough for the tiny creature to crawl very fast and exit through the nearest door. She reacted clumsily and ran for the door, as it was closing. If she had been late for a couple more seconds, her hand would have been caught by the metal doors.

Now, on the platform, people were staring at her, which was funny: there was an octopus somewhere in the station and she was the one been looked at. She looked to every side but couldn't see anything. So she turned around and walked towards the edge of the platform. Well, she didn't walked too much as a security guard grabbed her strongly by the arm and started yelling at her. He clearly thought she was going to commit suicide.

And then she reacted in the worst way possible: she started laughing, which made the scene even crazier. The man yelled even more and she just couldn't stop laughing. The situation was so ridiculous. And then, over the man's shoulder, she saw the tiny creature getting on an elevator. She didn't stay for the rest of the lecture, instead running towards the elevator which doors closed right in her face.

Kumiko ran up the stairs, for three floors, until she saw the tiny creature gliding down the handle of some other stairs. She wanted to laugh again but stopped herself from that as it would take a lot of her time. She ran, again, after the creature. Kumiko smiled as she ran down the stairs after the creature: it had been a long time since she had had this much fun. And it made her feel alive to see such a tiny fellow gliding and jumping and crawling. It was amazing to see it, so alive and desperate to keep living.

They got to a different platform to the one they had been before and the creature jump right into a waiting train and she did the same but through a different door. As the train began moving, she grabbed a metal pole and rested. She remembered playing with her friend in school ,running around and just being young. She missed badly, she missed them so much. Kumiko had invested her life on the thesis and in her career and she had left out all those other important things.

The train stopped and she stared through the window. The creature must have left already. No need to chase it. He would be able to fight for his life, hopefully not being stepped on or caught before he gets to a water source.

Kumiko walked past some busy people on the train, towards the back of the wagon, and stared at their faces while stroking the phone on her pocket. It was so sad for her, to be always so busy and giving importance to such stupid things, missing out so much from life.

The train slowed down again, this time on Takebashi station. Kumiko began thinking how to get back home from there, when suddenly the small creature jumped out of the train. She ran after him again and chased him to another elevator. The difference was this time she was able to get in with the octopus.

The trip towards the street was short but it was enough for her to see the small animal was not feeling very good. Its skin seemed pale and its tentacles were drying. Its escape stunts had taken their toll, leaving it too tired and almost dead.

When the elevator opened, they could see car and a street. The creature stepped out first and Kumiko decided not to intervene. It seemed as if the octopus knew were to go, which seemed crazy but the girl was sure something had brought it this far.

Then, she noticed were she was and she understood, as the octopus crawled towards the edge of the sidewalk. No, not to throw itself at the moving cars but on the other side. They were steps away from the Imperial Palace. And it had a surrounding moat and that was were the octopus was going. With its last breath, the creature used all of its tentacles to jumo over the railing to the water below.

Kumiko saw it all but was worried not to see it anymore. She knew the canals around the palace led, somehow, to the ocean but that must be a harder journey.

As she was getting worried, she saw the head and eyes of the creature, that sunk almost inmediately in the water, leaving a small trace in the water. Kumiko stayed there until she wasn't able to see nothing else.

An hour later, she was cooking in her house. Her mother had thanked her for the unexpected present but was disappointed to see Kumiko hadn't bought her favorite food, octopus. The daughter then told her she had a story to tell her. Her mother smiled and kissed her in the forehead.

 - You're a free woman now. And I want to hear all of your stories.

And for Kumiko, that was the cherry on top of such a strange and wonderful day.