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

miércoles, 22 de noviembre de 2017

Thanksgiving

   She gave herself one last look in the mirror before grabbing her purse and her jacket. Jackie caressed her cat Milo before heading out into the night, where she would have to get into a cab and then wait inside before arriving and the Thanksgiving dinner she had been invited to only some days earlier. Paul had been kind enough to invite her and she knew they didn’t knew each other that well yet, so his gesture was all the more difficult to understand but welcomed. After all, she was very far from her own family.

Jackie’s new job as an assistant editor had forced her to move out of her small city to a bigger one, where she would have many more opportunities to grow. At first, she had been very reluctant to leave her home but it was her own parents that almost forced her to take that big new step in her life. They had never had the opportunity to do something like that and they wanted her to have everything they hadn’t been able to have in their respective youths. They were going to miss her deeply but it was necessary for her to leave.

 Starting somewhere else she had never being to was difficult the first few months but the amount of work had numbed her response to anything happening around her. Thanksgiving was the first time she was leaving her small rented apartment in order to actually have fun. She would leave everyday really early for work and then head back at night to sleep there. She would cook something as soon as she arrived and pack it for the next day. That was her routine and she was grateful for it because it didn’t require thinking.

 That party, however, did require a lot of it. She had to buy a proper dress, something she didn’t have in her wardrobe, and accessorize it with nice things and, of course, a great hairdo. She bought some fashion magazines to give her a good idea of what girls from the city liked to wear but she felt none of those styles actually fitted her. She was more the kind of staying at home and enjoy a new TV show, rather than going out to a club dancing or something like that. She had to go to several stores before finding a dress she liked.

 The woman that helped her was the one who advised her on which earrings and shoes she should wear with it. Thankfully, some of her own stuff was perfect for it, saving her a big amount of money she wouldn’t have being able to spend, unless she went in debt or something and that was something her parents had warned her against. She also borrowed a neighbor’s jacket, a girl named Olivia who had become her best friend in the city. That was something to say because they didn’t really know each other that well but Olivia had seen Jackie with her dress bag and sad expression and just knew she needed help.

 When she arrived at the venue, a very impressive restaurant on the twentieth floor of a very old and majestic building, Jackie felt she was entering some sort of book. The people tending to the guests were dressed like those butlers that you see on period dramas or something like that. She even smiled when one of them offered her a glass of champagne, which she accepted trying to fit in. She suddenly felt a little bit out of her element and tried to look for her friend all around. But the place was fairly big.

 The venue was like a palace inserted into a building. There were long and luxurious stairs that separated two floors, both of which had different rooms were people could stand up or sit down, have a drink or dance around if they wanted. No loud music thought. There was a live band playing some modern songs but in such a way it seemed the whole place had been transported magically back to the 1950’s. It was a very nice atmosphere but also a bit uncomfortable for Jackie, who wasn’t used to something like that.

 Her friend Leslie appeared from behind. He was a tall, very white and lanky man, who worked in the technical area of the magazine. He was the one who made it possible for the editor to make a digital edition to be on display for all of those women, and some men, who paid for the magazine online. He was one of the first people that invited Jackie to have lunch with him when she arrived, stating that he had always been the lonely kid in school and would have never wanted to have someone feel like that if he could do something about it.

 They laughed for a while before talking about the food and drinks and how fantastic the place was. Leslie explained that the place was owned by a very old club, which had been created by his grandmother many years ago. He didn’t say a word, but it was obvious his family was very wealthy. He tried to make it all seem like if it was something everyone could experience but Jackie soon realized that wasn’t the case at all. Elitist was maybe a very strong word but it would be appropriate for the situation.

 Leslie took her by the arm and carried hair up the stairs, to a room all decorated in gold and some red elements. There, she was presented to his family. Leslie’s mother Corinne was a very nice lady that was obviously not used to such luxury either. The young woman soon deduced it was her husband who had been born into wealth and not her. It was not only the way she spoke and moved but also the things that she didn’t do. Jackie liked her from the first moment and so did Corinne, who had never really liked any of her son’s friends because of their way of behaving in public.

 Helen, Leslie’s grandmother, was someone very different. She sat on a big chair and didn’t move too much. It wasn’t like she couldn’t walk or something like that. It was obvious that she wanted everyone to be around her and to be, to an extent, the center of everyone’s attention during her time in the event, which was actually short for being such a matriarch. The moment dinner was served in a very large table, she disappeared. Jackie asked about her whereabouts but no one answered. It was her thing.

 It wasn’t until much later in the evening when Jackie met Leslie’s father. He had just arrived from a very long flight, claiming he had taken a limousine straight from the airport to be able to share some time with his family. His wife was happy to see him but Leslie had a very different response. Jackie could tell he just stopped himself from joking around as he usually did and he became this stiff man that couldn’t almost speak a word. It was a very unsettling thing to see.

 And George, his father, was not at all an intimidating man. He was actually very charming; enchanting everyone present with some stories about his trip to Asia and the people he met there. He also told some jokes but many of them did not find an audience with Jackie. Maybe she was too oblivious or the content just went over her head. But the most likely reason was she was trying to make Leslie speak, with little to no success. He really seemed to have become a human icicle.

 Then, out of nowhere, a member of the staff came in rushing into the dining room, straight for Leslie’s father. He spoke in a very low register and fast enough no one could really understand what he was saying, not even Jackie who was fairly close. Whatever he was talking about, it was very serious because George’s expression went from utter joy to a very grim expression that drained all color from his face. The staff member left and George’s father stood up, trying to make people calm down.

 He announced, in a very deep voice, that his mother had just passed away in her apartment “upstairs”. He apologized for ending the evening, but the circumstances were very unique. Everyone stood up and headed to the lobby, to pick up their belongings.


 Leslie was still like a stone but he seemed to move his eyes, which was an improvement. Jackie wanted to stay with him but Corrine personally put Jackie’s neighbor’s jacket on her back and joined her outside where a cab was already waiting. She didn’t even have a moment to talk or think.

viernes, 3 de noviembre de 2017

You simply cannot please everyone

   Suddenly, Maxine felt guilty of everything she had ever done and also guilty of things she couldn’t have possibly done. For a single moment, she felt responsible for everything and anything that had ever happened around her. Of course, she was just being silly but that tiny fraction of time sunk itself deep into her core. For days, she felt badly about it all and thinking about not being sad made her even sadder. That unease even translated itself into a powerful aching of the whole body.

 She curled up in bed and stayed there for a whole week, deciding not to go out for her own well being but also for the well being of others. She felt she needed to fix too many things about herself and it wasn’t a good idea to expose others to the mess that was happening inside of her. That guilt was much too powerful and it had taken hold of her. Yet, the only way to get it out was or her to be strong enough and really deal with it instead of trying to shield herself from further harm.

 Maxine felt she had alienated everyone and that it was her fault that all relationships she had with other people had failed miserably in a matter of months. She had been too busy doing her things, trying to stay alive in a world filled with barriers and traps. The woman had expected people to understand her, to get why she couldn’t go out anymore or talk to them as often as they once did. She forgot she had never been a very talkative person, not a really “in touch” friend.

And yet, they blamed her and her decisions for the destruction of their friendships. She was to blame for a lack of communications. When she had heard these accusations, which had come in the form of text messages in her phone, she realized she couldn’t possibly fight the allegations. How in the hell could she make any sense by writing on a cellphone? She couldn’t possibly defend her position and made herself be understood by typing on a machine, waiting for an answer.

 Max asked for all of them to meet, her closest friends and her, in order to sort things out and clear the air. But they all suddenly said they were much too busy for that to happen. Maybe in the future but not right away, not when it mattered and when she could make the most sense. She felt awful because they made her feel she was the one to blame and it was that moment that send her down a spiral of guilt and internal pain that she couldn’t really handle by herself. Or that’s what she had taught. Because that woman, and everyone, is stronger than they think.

 After that awful week, she realized she had to accept that changes happen in life, that she hadn’t done anything badly or said anything that would make anyone part ways with her. She had lived her life in the way she thought she had to in order to achieve what she wanted. It would be very unfair to judge her because of that, to make her the one to blame just because she had decided to take care of herself completely. Maybe it hadn’t been the best thing to do but it was her choice.

 They told her they were also very taken aback by her failures in life, that it was exhausting to hear her complain every time about things that were or were not happening in her life. They told her they were tired of trying to help and they had decided it was not worth it anymore. That was the knife in the back, a big and sharpened knife that they plunged deep into her, an attack that was decisive on how she decided to proceed days later. Every word was branded on her mind.

 It was true she was a failure. She had accepted that as a part of herself, of her personality and of everything that she seemed to be up to that point in her life. It was also true that, once or twice, she had asked for advice. It was only natural to do so with friends. However, it wasn’t true she had been begging for advice or help, as they made it seem. She had only reached out to them, worried that so much time had passed since their last conversation, seeking to rekindle the connection.

 Well, those words had been more that knife, more than any weapon. None of the arms created by mankind could ever hurt as much as those words had. Because they were not only hurtful but they were also mixed with lies and a clear objective to destroy, they had been prepared in advance in order to be ready for the moment she spoke about their clear shortcomings, the same ones she had but that she had been the only one to recognize. Modesty be damned, it was Maxine who spoke!

 It is revolting to think about it now. She had talked about them about talking and trying to get things straight. She still wants to do that and has tried to get it done but they won’t have time for her, not for now at least. She decided to let them live their lives, just as done before. She’ll probably be blamed for that too but she doesn’t care anymore because, for once, she knows she was in the right. She knows now, in this precise moment in time, that she has done everything possible without being a bother to herself or them. That’s as much as she can do right now and, to be fair, she couldn’t say if she would do more.

 That’s one group, the largest one. The others are the kind that just wants her close in case they want something from Max. Maybe they want her body or her connections or her talent for a while, possibly for free. They don’t talk often either and they always seem ashamed when she talks to them and wonders why they don’t talk more often. In that case, she’s not the one to blame, almost the opposite. And that’s not a great position either because they make her feel just as bad, one way or the other.

 This group is manageable and most of them are mostly honest about how their relationship works with Maxine. They both know who they are in those connections and it mostly goes fine, without any annoying moments. They just happen to be people that know each other and that play the game of knowing each other well and liking each other’s lives. It requires a bit of acting but, as it doesn’t really happen that often, it isn’t really a big deal. It’s just one of those human things.

 The last group, being the least crowded one, is the made up by real friends. People that just don’t care what about or when you talked to them. They always have time and words of support. They say the truth, which can sometimes be hard, but they do it because they know that might be the best way to keep a friendship in its best shape possible. They don’t really care what shape their connection takes, they just want to be close to their friends, to Maxine in this case.

 Anyway, people are people and things always find a way to work out eventually. Maxine soon learned that worrying about everything didn’t really help at all and that making all of that take a toll on her could only be harmful to herself and destroy her own life in the long run. Nothing is more important than taking care of yourself, so Maxine decided to do things in her life as she saw fit. If others agreed with her or not, that was their decision to make and she would have to accept changes.


 You simply cannot please everyone. That’s just not possible.

miércoles, 25 de octubre de 2017

Boxing wounds

   Curing the knuckles had become something of a tradition after each fight. His gloves had to be removed carefully, or the pain would drive him furious if he had lost or would have ruined his moment if he had won. The Hammer was the nickname chosen by the fans to refer to him and he certainly had some thing reminiscent of that object. Not only was he overwhelmingly strong, he was also taller than most boxers and would always use that in his advantage, in very clever ways.

 Carefully, some pure alcohol would be applied to his hands and to the rest of his body, wherever he could have scars. This was done after he showered himself thoroughly. It had been known to happen that he was so weak after a fight that someone went into the showers with him in order to help him stand and use the soap. That normally happened when he had lost and it wasn’t a nice thing to witness. He would always be furious those times and it wasn’t great to be near him.

 The Hammer had started fighting very early in his life. He had been a bully back in school but, thankfully, his religious upbringing had helped him seek an exit from his ways through a sport and boxing had always been very popular in that neighborhood, one of those parts of town where every single person has their family working in some store or factory. Boxing saved The Hammer from becoming a butcher, a machine operator or even a cashier. His future was slightly brighter.

 He started in fights celebrated behind closed doors. He was still underage so it wasn’t legal to make him fight but it was the only way to properly use his skills. He had such rage; such need to be fighting other men. It was fantastic to see him use his fists, one, two and then both almost at the same time. His legs were fast too, so he had it all to be the very best boxer ever, in the world. And he knew this, so his ego started to grow each day, like a weed. It just got into his head.

When he reached adulthood, everyone in the boxing circuit knew exactly who The Hammer was. His techniques and legendary way of finishing his fights was very well known and he had received acclaim from every single part of society: the poor, the rich, the workers, the owners, the old and the young, as well as from men and women. That was in part his undoing, or the moment he started going downhill. When he lost for the first time, the felt everything that had happened before was just forgotten by everyone else. He thought he was going to be ostracized.

 However, that’s when he met Howard. He was a guy his age but not physically fit like him. He wasn’t fat or lanky but just not someone as big and powerful as The Hammer. He was shorter and had shown the way of words and books. Recently returning from his stay abroad, he had gone to the university and learned quite a few things around there. He was well known once he got back to the neighborhood because he had chosen to become a nurse instead of a proper doctor.

 His parents were not pleased by his decision and it was clear everyone in that part of town had their opinion about Howard. But he simply did not care. He had lived there before and he knew people would respect that, even if they spoke behind his back. And they sure did: in the supermarket and on the street, pointing and giggling and laughing out loud. It was especially the youngest ones around, repeating their parents behavior, who shouted word to the man, with no response heard back.

 Two days after he had returned to the city, his sister decided to take him to a boxing match. She wanted others to see how Howard was a real man, and such a sporting event would be the perfect way to make them realize all that was said about him was a lie. When they reached the venue, they sat very far from the ring but were able to see perfectly when The Hammer lost, again, against a huge blond man who seemed more like a refrigerator than like a real human male.

 Each punch, each swift move, hurt Howard deep inside. He was certain that was not the kind of sport he liked to see and he didn’t want to see that ever again. And then more punches came and some stitches blew open. Blood was all over the place and The Hammer was soon announced as the loser. Howard was so affected by what he had seen, that he just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. However, his sister had to go to the bathroom and took especially long that day.

 As he waited, he saw the refrigerator man passing by. He seemed more like a robot than anything else. And then came two guys, holding The Hammer and trying to take him to his dressing room. He was badly beaten and it was obvious that place didn’t have a proper infirmary. His need to help kicked in and Howard helped the men carry The Hammer and take him to a sofa in his room. There, they waited for the nurse they had brought but she seemed overwhelmed by the blood and she lacked most of what was necessary. Howard jumped in, not thinking.

 The woman and the men helped him get what he needed to patch The Hammer up. His face was severely swollen, he couldn’t speak at all. Alcohol was rubbed all over, carefully not to burn the fighter. Howard himself took off the gloves and the shorts and the shoes. Everything had to come off in order to help properly. It took several hours, effort and supplies, bought from a nearby pharmacy by the boxer’s friends, but he was eventually saved from further damage.

 Howard’s sister had left, so he decided to join The Hammer and his friends to his house. He still lived with his mother, near the melting plant. He was carried by the men and left in a mattress on the ground, which was apparently his bed. He slept on a room downstairs, by the kitchen. The men, thanking Howard, asked him if he wanted to have something to eat. His stomach ached, so he accepted. So they all left to buy some fried chicken and he was left alone with his patient.

 He changed some of the patched done and tried to clean the man’s face with a moist cloth. He carefully washed every single centimeter, trying not to make him feel any pain. However, The Hammer woke up as Howard was cleaning his neck. He wasn’t anxious at all, or nervous. He moved his swollen lips and Howard realized he was thanking him for his help. Howard smiled and the boxer tried to do the same. If anyone had been there, they would have told the male nurse that Hammer never smiled.

 They stared at each other and no sound was made. The Hammer wanted to say something else, to try and pretend he was feeling fine. But every single bone in his body felt like it was bruised. He could stand it but he didn’t really know what else to say. Out of nowhere, Howard resumed his task of cleaning the sportsman, finishing his neck and then moving on to his hand and forearms. He finally cleaned his feet, which made the boxer laugh and then yell some curse words because of the pain.

 Howard tried not to but he couldn’t hold the laughter. He tried to apologize but he couldn’t. When The Hammers laughed to, apparently ignoring his own state, he realized there was nothing to fear about his reaction. Laughter was definitely needed.


 When the laughter subsided and just moments before they could smell fried chicken, the boxer grabbed one of Howard’s hands and told him his name was Kevin. They both smiled. Afterwards, they all ate and new relationships began to blossom, slowly.

miércoles, 5 de julio de 2017

Norman

   From the very first years of his life, Norman Atelon was a very peculiar man. He was always avoiding situations, which would cause him to ruin his appearance, such as playing in the mud or during the rainy season. From the moment he learned to read, he spent his time doing just that, inside the house, in his room. He didn’t really like the company of his parents or of any other person. He’d rather have his stories and his imagination to go with it. That was more than enough.

 Norman developed this love of stories through his upbringing and eventually became one of the most renowned authors in the world. For some reason, he had dedicated himself to writing children’s books. His family saw this as odd behavior because he didn’t like people, and children were his very least favorite. He thought they were obnoxious and repetitive, not really taking any interest in the real interesting things life had to offer. He thought they were dull and dirty.

 However, the author once explained to his mother that he loved to write simple stories and that’s why his creations were considered more suitable for children. He didn’t agree at all but he knew it was best not to argue too much, because he did want to be taken seriously by other authors and by the world in general. For a person that didn’t really like people, Norman had a real need for people to be acceptant of him or, at very least, of his literature. And the world answered in a big way.

 His first book was a recompilation of short stories and it sold like fresh baked bread. Mothers and fathers all over the country fell in love with his imaginative creations and the kids really took to it too. Social media was a very good promotional platform for him, as many kids that liked his stories loved to paint or draw their favorite characters and then upload the pictures online. It was all made as a contest by the company publishing the books and it earned him a lot of money.

 So much he earned, that he became a rich man by the age of twenty-three, when most people are barely coming out of university, trying to enter a world hostile to their wishes. The irony was that Norman had never really wanted to be part of the world. He couldn’t care less if his stories made money or not, he just wanted to be out there, his name with all the other great names of literature. That was his achievement and he wanted to feel he had made it big. However, despite all the success, he didn’t get the recognition he wanted, only the one he didn’t care about.

 That’s why he made an effort at keep getting better at his craft. He studied, educated himself further abroad and, of course, he kept writing, almost every day. He lived with his parents for years until he decided he needed to get out of there but not because he was too old. He had realized he had to be fully alone to be able to create things that every other author would be jealous about. So he left his parents in a huff, not really feeling anything else than the burning desire to be considered a great author.

 His new apartment was small, very small. But it was located in a very wealthy neighborhood, with everything he could ever want not very far away. Not that he ever went outside for anything. He hired a maid to do those kinds of things for her. Food was a waste of time in his mind, so he dedicated the least amount of time to it, even reading through his meals or interrupting them abruptly when an idea came to mind. He had always been very skinny but he soon acquired an additional greenish hue on his skin.

 His parents and people he saw for work noticed this right away but they all knew him too well to say a word. Norman wasn’t the kind of person to care a lot about personal appearance. However, his mother convinced him to go to the doctor once. He complained about losing time of his daily schedule but he went with it. The doctor found him to be a bit underfed but, aside from that, he was healthy as a horse. It was incredible but he was, so no one could say anything about it anymore.

 The maid was ordered to cook better meals and he accepted to spend at least twenty straight minutes to breakfast, lunch and dinner. But he kept reading through the meals, because his mind had to be busy every single second of the day. People that met him thought it was exhausting just look at him go through a normal day. Norman was not a normal person at all; he was very unique in a very particular kind of way. Maybe that was the reason he didn’t like people that much.

 Friends, he did not have. He didn’t have any use for friendship or love or sex. As far as everyone that knew him was concerned, Norman was still a virgin and had never bonded with anyone else in his entire life, not even with other authors. People thought he wanted to be accepted by them but the fact was he wanted to be considered a true writer, a member of the group. If the people in the group liked him or not, he didn’t care one bit. That made people very annoyed by him, even if they were meeting him for the very first time. Norman was one of a kind.

 Ten years passed from his first publication. He lived in the same apartment, being cooked by the same maid and with his mom coming in every Sunday, as she had done since he had moved out. However, his father had died fairly recently so she had to visit alone. But Norman never seemed to notice his father was not around anymore. He did go to the funeral but he read a book through the ceremony and during the burial. People were very angry about it but his mother kept everyone from doing a scene.

 However, it was her who made the scene one day, one of those Sundays she visited her son. She served the meal left by the maid, as she always did and looked at her son as he ate fast to go back to his writing. He was working on a book about a young girl and her relationship with a magical cow. Or something like that, his mom was never that aware of the stories he made. No one really seemed to be, except his editor. The meal had gone by as usual except for one little detail.

 The mother burst into tears. She had never done so, not once in her whole life. Not on her childhood home, no in the house she had bought with her husband and least of all in her son’s apartment. She just couldn’t keep crying, tear rolling down her cheeks and nose. But that was not all that happened. Because, as she dried her face, she noticed that her son just left the table to sit on his table and keep on writing. Then, her sadness turned into rage, a feeling she had been repressing for many years.

 She yelled, as no one had ever yelled at Norman. Of course, there had been people who had had altercations with him. His way of being was off-putting to many. But that time, he seemed to actually care about the person who was yelling. It was his mother and, no matter how his personality was, he couldn’t just ignore the person that had brought him to life. She claimed she had been caring for him her whole life and he had never shown her the slightest sign of affection.

 For the first time, it seemed he didn’t have the right words to say. Norman had developed a very sharp and fast tongue. But that afternoon, all words seemed to leave him for good. And there was a reason for that: she was right. He had never shown her affection or any other feeling for that matter.


 He stood up and tried to walk up to her but he couldn’t. His legs wouldn’t budge. That feeling for her mother, whatever it was, was being overpowered by his personality. And she noticed. That’s why the woman grabbed her purse and her coat and never spoke to him again, not even when he was finally recognized as he had always wanted.