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

miércoles, 31 de mayo de 2017

The rocks

   Every single woman in the town visited the rocks at least once a weak. It was the perfect place to do laundry by the river, but also a place for encounter. They would discuss the latest news, as well as sharing some of their most personal things. Not every woman went there at the same time, so small groups of them visited the rocks every few hours. It was never crowded because they all knew at what time they should be visiting in order to find the people they communicated best with.

 The ones that arrived at the earliest were mostly older. For some reason, experienced women tended to do their chores as early as they could. It was kind of an irony because they were the ones with the least amount of work at home and there in the rocks. After washing a couple of undergarments from their husbands, they were finished and did not know what else to do. They usually stayed on until the last woman had finished. That means they only stayed about an hour in the morning.

 The biggest group visited the rocks after midday. It was the time when most women had finished cooking for their families, so they all decided to process their meal by doing some exercise, and washing laundry was exactly that. Some women spent up to three hours there. It wasn’t very surprising considering the amount of dirty clothes accumulated by one husband and at least three young children. It was a lot of clothes to clean and they did it as fast as they could, as they talked and laughed.

 Then, there was a small group of women that visited the rocks an hour before sunlight disappeared. They normally visited that late because they really didn’t want to confront other woman during the day. They just wanted to do their thing and then leave as soon as possible. Women that visited at that time were often widows or single, having never married. They were just a handful in town but enough to make people talk about them. That’s why they preferred a certain darkness.

  What they all had in common, and rarely realized, was that every single one of them loved to visit the rocks because it gave them an outlet, it was something different from seeing men every single day and then having to do what they said. There, in the rocks, no man was in charge. Actually, they practically never went there, as they knew they would encounter a large number of women and men always felt a bit scared when outnumbered by anyone. The rocks were only for women and, as such, it was a safe space where they could discuss anything.

 It wasn’t uncommon to hear women curse and talk about their families in a not so kind way. A person hearing them out of context would never understand how much these women actually cared for their families. But they would sometimes need to vent their dissatisfaction with some of the thing that happened at home, because they needed to tell someone. In the household, the men were not supposed to be bothered with those issues and children were too immature to understand.

 So they only had each other to talk about those things that only women went through. Of course, they didn’t all got along as adults are complicated and there’s always some kind of animosity against someone because they did something you may think is wrong. That’s why the single women had their own scheduled to clean. Because they didn’t wanted married woman to ridicule them in their own time, when they needed to feel they could breath for at least a second.

 The point was that life for women was very difficult in town and they were grateful to have a space of their own to talk and have a little bit of fun once a week. There was no fun in anything else they did and their little town, so out of the way of the world, was sometimes too slow and boring for any of them to feel they were living the best life possible. Granted, some of them stated often they could never have a big city life as the change would be too much and they thought of urbanites as sinners.

 Religion, as expected, had always been a very important part of the town’s life. Every single person, or at least most of the people, would go every Sunday to the mass. There, Father McGregor would tell them once and again that their ways were wrong and that it was time to correct them in order to get into the kingdom of heaven. Sometimes he softened his words but it wasn’t something that happened often. It was clear that religion wanted people to be scared and they were effective at that.

 So much so, that women sometimes felt guilty of whom they were just because they were women. They discussed it sometimes on the rocks, but it was a very complicated subject that some of them didn’t want to talk about because they felt heir beliefs were above anything else. These women had been raised to believe that they were inferior, by nature, to men and most had assimilated that and thought it was true. Changing that was very complicated so that’s why it wasn’t a very popular subject to bring to the table. Something more entertaining was always better.

 On the rocks, they laugh, they cried and they shared thoughts and words and what little knowledge came their way. Sometimes they could stop talking and other times, there was a silence that settled in and made them fell protected somehow. It was strange but after so many time there, they knew exactly how they should behave there and how they should do it at home and how it was better to never mix both worlds, because doing that could be dangerous to anyone.

 A woman once remembered a funny anecdote she had heard on the rocks and laughed out loud. That happened in her home but in front of her husband and children, while they were having supper. She tried to explain what she had remembered but the only thing that happened was that the husband stood up in silence, walked towards her and then slapped her as hard as he possibly could. The pain on her cheek was enough to understand that she could never mix the rocks with her daily life.

 Every women had a story like that, sometimes more tragic, sometimes less surprising. But they had all experienced what it felt to be something like a domesticated animal working for a master. They were like the bulls that helped in the fields or the horses that carried people from one place to the other. There were not that many differences between the two and that made them angry and hopeless. So they discussed it sometimes and they always ended up with a sour taste in their mouths.


 However, the rocks existed. And as long as the women had them to go and have a chat, they would feel empowered to keep going, to keep living day after day even if it felt difficult and, sometimes, impossible.

viernes, 14 de abril de 2017

The bird

   The bird was simply majestic. It had entered the canyon unexpectedly but the people that were there couldn’t take their eyes off of it. It’s wings were very large, so large in fact that the shadow that the creature casted over the terrain was huge. Some of the tourists near the river were a bit afraid of this because of the disproportionate size of the creature. Maybe it was precisely that feature that made it seem like it was flying very slow and close to the water. It was just like a dream.

 As it passed near the group of people, the bird let out a sound. It made all hairs stand on every human that heard it, as it was the most metallic sound a bird could ever do. It was as if the creature was not a biological being but that was impossible because of the eyes of the bird. No mechanical bird would look around like that. The bird continued to fly through the canyon until it reached a tight turn. Then it elevated it’s body toward the sky and soon it had disappeared completely from their sight.

 Every person there starting talking when the creature went away. It was as if the volume had been turned off for a moment and now it had made a comeback. The kids that had been playing in the water went back to it, but with much less enthusiasm than before and all the adults started mumbling and then openly talking about what they had just seen. It was obvious that gigantic birds were not really the norm in the region or out of it. They had just been in the presence of a unique event.

 The group was made of family members from all branches: grandparents, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces and so on. Every single one of them had decided to do a little picnic down in the canyon, which was located only an hour away from the town where they were all staying overnight. That town was the one where their family had begun so they were essentially coming back to their roots, teaching their children all about the region that they had known so well when younger.

 As they had been cooking meat just before the bird had made its appearance, they soon realized it had been burned by fire. So much so, that they had to throw it away and put some new pieces of meat and start all over again. As they ate, some time later that day, the obvious topic was the gigantic bird and everything about it. One of the women said that she new a biologist from the university she worked in. She would talk to him about it as soon as they went back to the city, in order to know if that creature was known to science or if it was a new discovery.

  Weeks later, when she got to talk to the biologist, she realized something that made her look and feel very dumb: no one in her family had thought of taking a picture of the creature with a cellphone or a camera and they had lots of those that day, laying around as every silly thing they did was awarded with the taking of a picture. Her friend told her that it would have been easier that way but that she could describe the creature in detail and that way they could recognized it from archival footage.

 It wasn’t a surprise when the biologist almost fainted as the woman told him everything about the bird: its size, the silvery color of its feathers, its very particular cry and all other features she could remember. At first he was scared but then he decided his friend was not telling him the truth. He tried to convince himself of that. But the woman was so adamant he knew that there was something big there. After consultation of the archive, they didn’t find any bird even remotely similar.

 The woman was about to leave when she asked the man that, if they creature was a new discovery, her family would love to see their last name being celebrated on the bird’s scientific name. For them, it would be an honor to serve as the people that discovered a brand new creature, not known to mankind before it had appeared on that canyon, the day they had decided to go for a picnic. She said goodbye and the biologist stood there in silence, thinking what to do next.

 He decided to form a group and leave for the canyon as soon as possible. Contrary to what one may think, not many people knew about that access the family had use to the inner side of the canyon. Most people stayed on the higher level, in order to look into the rock formation from above. It was a spectacular creation of nature, with the red rock perfectly worked by the river and the wind, as well as the passage of time. It was a wonderful place to find something great.

 The scientific group was made of five people. They decided to probe different areas of the canyon in order to look for new form of life. At the beginning, they thought it was going to be very easy, as the size of the bird wouldn’t make it very easy for it to hide, but they soon realized that it was going to be much more complicated than that. The first day, they didn’t see a thing. However, they did discover two new species of butterflies, as well as a new type of fungus that grew near the river. It was very exciting but not exactly what they had come for.

 The second day was the same, although they did discover a new bat and several other bugs that science didn’t know nothing about. By the third day, they decided to move along the river and see where they could end up. Supposedly, it wasn’t possible to that for the whole extension of the canyon, as the river was bigger in some parts than in others. They walked for two day in one direction but didn’t find more than some other bugs and other minor creatures.

 They turned around when a huge boulder fell down on them, almost killing one of the scientists. They decided to go up the river this time, which was apparently easier. But after three days, the new animals became scarce and it was obvious they were not going to see any huge birds soon. It started to rain soon enough and the fact that they were in a canyon became a very dangerous thing. They didn’t even stay one whole day more. The group had to exit the canyon in order not to be taken away by the engorged river.

 They camped in the upper area of the rock formation and analyzed several of the specimens that they had discovered. They could do that in an actual laboratory but the truth was they all wanted to see the gigantic bird. But how to attract it, how to make it come to them? They wanted to know, at least, more details about where they could find it. But there was nothing to tell them anything new about it. They had to be patient and realize it even may not happen for them.

 They stayed for two more days but the bird never appeared. The scientist went back to the city, as they had tons of information to process. It hadn’t been a wasted journey because of the many discoveries they had made but the crown jewel of the whole thing had not been found. Some had even decided to doubt the story and they openly said the bird was probably an illusion or something of the sort. The rest agreed, even if with all their heart they wanted the creature to be real.

 Many years later, the same family went back to the canyon. The elders had passed away and their ashes were going to be spread on the river, near the place where they had grown up. It was a very sentimental moment, everyone was in silence, mourning.


Suddenly, the bird appeared again. It looked exactly as it had look years ago. However, this time it landed near the family, bowed and then left again. Everyone had been taken aback by the bird except one of the youngest children, who did turn on her cellphone just in the right moment.

miércoles, 22 de marzo de 2017

Owned

   Carmen had always been the most reserved of the four Duke sisters. Everyone in town knew that family, as they owned almost everything around those parts. Apparently, the great-grandfather had been the one to first set foot in the region, before mining teams settled too and the small town of Golden River was founded. What made them rich, of course, was gold. The Duke family became rich in a glimpse and now every person in town felt that family owned them.

 Deluded by his power, the leader of the family had always thought the people of Golden River adored him and his family. But Barnaby Duke was not loved but despised and I was all a really good acting scene, as the inhabitants of the small town preferred to avoid conflict that basically shooting themselves on the foot. It was the Duke family that gave them the jobs on which they based their survival, so any words against them wouldn’t be precisely wise. So lies settled in town.

 What was worse, Mr. Duke loved to give speeches every so often: on the first day of spring for example. It didn’t matter if it was raining like crazy, he made people reunite in the town’s square and talked for hours about how in Golden River people lived a better life than in other places. He had a point, as they had never starved or anything like that. Meanwhile, many other towns in the country were suffering and had been going through very tough times for at least ten years.

 As good as he portrayed himself to be, Barnaby Duke had instructed the mayor and the police, a group of less than five people, to stop any outsiders from settling in Golden River. They had to ask it formally first and the requests were mostly denied. That’s why no one really knew about what was going on in other places. They were shielded from everything that way. Gold was the only trade they had and it was done by the Duke family, so none of the workers had the need to travel beyond the forest.

 But even so, people hated the Dukes. They hated the pompous Barnaby and his stuffy wife Henrietta, who was rarely seen in town. And of course, his daughters were beyond despised because he exhibited them around, like prizes, wearing all the best but never letting them interact with anyone from town. The people despised the girls for perpetuating the wrong his father had done, paying them miserably. They knew their dresses and perfumes would have made Golden River a better town. But they decided hate was the way to go because they had nothing else.

 There’s where Carmen comes in. She was the youngest of her sisters, maybe the most beautiful of them all. Her elder sister Diana was getting ready to leave town, as she had been promised in marriage to a rich merchant with whom her father had business with. The man was much older than her and even so she was beaming with joy, as she was leaving town forever in order to have, what she thought, was a much better life, filled with excitement and many things to discover.

 Carmen was a bit jealous of her sister but only because she was leaving town, the first one of the sisters to do so. It was obvious that they would all leave sooner that later, as they were all getting close to the marrying age. Diana was sixteen and Colleen was fifteen. Then Marguerite was fourteen and, finally, Carmen was only thirteen. Few years under her belt but she was the most adventurous one, always curious about the world around her. She was the least loved one too, by her father.

 Her mother was largely absent. She had not raised them as such, the job having been assigned to a number of servants. They were the only family to have nannies and cooks in town, which made people hate them even more. Nevertheless, those servants loved the girls and had learned to teach them the things they needed to know in order to be good wives in the future. But that wasn’t enough for Carmen, who often left the house to walk around the woods, and even to the mine.

 She liked to watch the men coming in and out of there. They looked different in the morning and then in the afternoon, all covered in dust and dirt. She also visited the ones that worked in the river, looking for gold there. She would always walk at a safe distance, because she was a bit scared of all those men and women. They appeared to be suffering and she inferred that because of the facial expression they had. She was the first to learn how much people hated the Dukes.

 Not that anyone did anything to her; she just knew it one day. Her sisters left, with the passing of time. One day, waving goodbye to Marguerite, she realized how little time she had left there. Her parents had not chosen a suitor yet but the decision would be announced any day now. She didn’t wanted marriage or leave Golden River, even if people hated them. Carmen felt she could help them have a better life, maybe better conditions at work. She had spent so much time watching and hearing them, that she thought she knew what was best for them.

 Silly as she was, Carmen walked to her father one day and told him she would like to work with him, handling the family business. The only answer she got was a slap on the face, one so hard her father’s ring left a mark on her cheek. He didn’t say a word after hitting her, calling one of the servants and telling them to lock Carmen in her room. Her wound was not even taken care of. It was then she realized the hate that people had against them was justified and she hated herself for who she was.

 Alone and locked away, she felt herself sink into an abyss. The following day it was her mother who visited her. That never happened, as the woman was always busy trying new clothes and stuff she bought from the city. She entered the room, visibly having never been there. It seemed she was going to sit on the bed but, instead, she just said a suitor had been found and her marriage was settled to happen in just a couple of months. The man was elderly but extremely wealthy.

 That night, a storm broke over the small town. Rain and wind hit all the houses, making the windows crack and the doors tremble. Carmen had cried so much that she had fallen asleep as she was, on her bed. But the storm woke her up in the middle of the night and gave her an idea. The noise was so strong that no one heard when she broke the window. She removed almost all of her clothes, to be able to move faster, and just like that, she jumped outside and ran towards town.

 The idea behind what she had done was that someone there could help her escape her father, maybe giving her a horse to ride to her freedom. But when she got to the small town, she realized people were asleep and none was there to help her. Then, she did something very stupid: assuming no one would notice, she grabbed a horse from a stable and just tried to ride it. The horse didn’t let that happen and dropped her to the round. The racket attracted the owners to the scene.

 When they realized who the burglar was, their rage seemed to reach new levels. In their eyes, their owner was mocking them, sending his daughter to steal from them. So they did the only thing that made sense to them and that they wanted to do: they killed Carmen Duke.


 Soon, an angry mob was formed. They had grown tired and the intrusion of the Duke girl had been the last hey would take from the oppressor. So that stormy night, they marched straight to the Duke house and set it on fire. Everyone inside was killed in the sleep. There were Dukes no more.

martes, 12 de julio de 2016

The tribe

   Once outside the darkness of he cave, the two men collapsed to the ground, exhausted. They had been lost for day, wondering in the dark, putting their hands on the foulest places. They had to be intelligent with their very small rations and their use of light. They had to flashlights that work on kinetic energy and one more that ran on normal batteries. That last one had depleted its energy in a single day. The others two had been of great help, even if the two men were not really strong at the moment.

 A couple of days latter, they woke up in a hut. They felt a strong smell near their noses and realized it was and indigenous woman, much older that they were, putting a bowl with some green paste inside beneath their nose. They didn’t want to be rude, but their reaction was to throw the bowl to the wall and crawl to the wall. It was then when they realized they had various cuts on the skin, plus many other bruises.

 Of course, they didn’t understand what she said but, somehow, she did seem to understand what they said. Maybe it was some kind of magic or maybe it was just an impression but in the following days, the two men regained their health and felt even better than before. They spent their days doing nothing until a man and a woman, also native to the jungle, came for them. Apparently, from what they could make of it, their nurse thought it was time for them to leave her and go back to civilization.

 The process was not immediate. They stayed with the tribe of the man and the woman for what seemed like a month. They didn’t speak their language wither, but that wasn’t necessary. Hands and body language was enough to communicate the most basic ideas so, in a matter of days, they were able to understand one another.

 Richard, who was the oldest of the two lost men, began to be interested in the ways of the jungle people, believing it to be very interesting how they use scorpion and spider venom to dip their arrows in and then hunt all of their meals. Apparently, the venom could be washed away from the flesh of the fallen animals and it wouldn’t affect one bite of a meal. He was very impressed by their agility and cunning too, as they seem no to be scared, in any moment.

 Lucas, the young one of the couple of rescued men, was not as interested in the hunting techniques as he was interested in the woman that had came for them to the old woman’s house. He had no idea of what her name was but he knew he loved her curves, her bright black hair, her big brown eyes and her full lips the color of strawberries. He couldn’t stop watching her everyday, even when she was doing her other chores such as cooking or helping the children of the tribe.

 Richard learned fast about their ways of hunting and in no time he was doing it himself, being able to bring a full-grown wild boar for dinner. Apparently, such a kill was a very uncommon occurrence as they tribe decided to hold a feast in their honor for their bravery and exemplary behavior. The natives had never seen foreign men before but they rather thought that Richard and Lucas had been sent by their gods to help them in times of need. That boar was not special. What was special was the fact that they hadn’t had anything decent to eat for a while.

 Every woman, man and child thanked the two of them and they rapidly learn some words that night, after they had heard them being repeated once and again and again. The celebration was topped off by the taking of a very powerful alcoholic beverage made from a mx of fruits the indigenous people picked up from all over the jungle. Richard was unsure about drinking it but Lucas did it in order to impress the woman he liked. It worked, as she thought he was brave for doing it.

 They both paid their bravery with three full days of chronic diarrhea and hallucinations. Richard had taken less than Lucas, but he too started seeing things once he got away of the village in order not to bother the others with his awful state. He would see his wife, his son and his parents. He had forgotten about them and maybe they had forgotten about him too. There, kneeling on the ground, he saw the image of his wife hugging and making love to another man. He also saw his little boy all grown up, turned into a man that was the opposite of what he had been. And his parents, dead for a long time.

 Lucas had it worse. He vomited and soiled himself several times. The woman he loved attended to him as his nurse and she feared the worst because he had really taken a lot of the beverage and she believed the messengers of the gods probably weren’t as tough in the stomach as the natives were. She did her best to keep him with them, helping him with cold water and prayer.

 He saw his family too. He didn’t have a wife and children but he did have friends, all of whom were giving him their back. He saw them saying how horrible of a person eh was and how disappointed they were of him. They also said that they had always thought he was a fake, always pretending to be something he wasn’t, always trying to be one step ahead of everyone to seem cool or whatever but he wasn’t. He heard the laughter louder and louder and he wanted to scream and pull off his skin to stop feeling the pain all over his body.

 After a while, their condition disappeared. The day Richard woke up from his visions, he was taken to a nearby river with freezing water. The shaman of the tribe made him swim in that water and when he was out, everyone cheered. Apparently, he had achieved another level in his status among them and he was proud of himself. However, he now had his family on his mind, calling for him from a distance. They were probably thinking he had died by now but he needed them to know he was a changed man, man that could make their family so much better now.

 He waited until Lucas came out of his sickness. He helped him out of the cold water in the river and then spoke to him alone, in a hut they had built only for them. It was the first time in a while that they were alone and that they spoke their language. Richard wanted Lucas to know he appreciated having a companion through this ordeal but that he had realized, thanks to the beverage, that he had responsibilities and that he had to fulfill them.

 Even being younger, Lucas understood what Richard was telling him but he also announced something: thanks to the visions, he had realized he needed to stay there with the tribe. He had seen his present and his past but also a glimpse of the future and he knew that the only real happiness that he could take away in this world was there, with the natives in the jungle. Even more, he had already decided to ask for the hand of his nurse in marriage, as he loved her deeply.

 The next day, Richard wanted to announce his intentions to the tribe but here was no need. They all knew what he was going to do and they had prepared a feast for him, to send him on his way. There was no psychotropic beverage this time, rather plenty of meat and some provisions he could take for his long way home. On a leaf, the shaman explained to him how to get to the nearest town from where he could possibly reach civilization.

 He thanked all of them and bid farewell to all of them, both in his language and in theirs. They were moved by this kindness and by the fact he hugged Lucas as a son, even if he wasn’t. He was thankful for his help and his support in the most difficult times, both in the jungle and in the cave. There were things that were a secret between them and Richard knew he could trust Lucas with all those revealed secrets.


 As he went away, the native nurse came to Lucas and said a few words by his ear. Somehow, he understood. That same night, they got married in the most beautiful ceremony the tribe had seen in a while. Everyone was happy, well-fed and very good health. The gods had really sent them. But for Lucas it was them, the tribe, that were the real saviors, making him realize what his life was and how to make it into something better, for him and the world.