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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.

jueves, 26 de mayo de 2016


   The end of the lines was just next to a Mexican food stand, were many people ate, unaware that the line that was getting longer and longer had nothing to do with the food they were eating.

 The last two people to get to the line were a couple, a woman named Mel and a man named Jon. They had come to the park because they wanted to ride The Abomination, a very tall and long rollercoaster, built out of steel and wood at the same time. It was one of a kind and had landed the best reviews for a rollercoaster in a while.

 The couple had come all the way from another country just to have a go in the rollercoaster. The ride was supposed to last for a whole minute but the expected time in line was a bout two hours. That’s why the people from the park had to relocate some garbage bins and benches in order to put up a special place were people could make the line. It extended all over the park and it was cut at some places in order to let other visitors to the park move around with ease.

 In every place where the line was cut, there was a supervisor checking that every person in the line had a decent behavior and that no one got in line out of nowhere. If they discovered someone left or cut in front or behind their friends, there were taking out of the line very rapidly by the security agents of the park. So it was a very tense place.

 People would also have food in there. As many had backpacks, they brought everything they needed as they waited on line. The only thing they took care about was the amount of liquid they drank. It was hard because the sky was clear and the temperature had begun to rise dramatically. Yet, they didn’t want to have to go to the bathroom and then lose their seat, so everyone took very small sips and only if they felt really thirsty.

 Mel and Jon had drunk a lot of water before going to the park and had also eaten all that they could back in the hotel. They had complimentary breakfast so they stuffed themselves with everything and even brought some food in Mel’s purse in case they had the urge for something with sugar or to eat something after the long wait.

 They also had cards and videogames in their cellphones, which many were playing. Others decided to just chat with the people they had come in or they would simply eat because they had left their hotels early in order to be the first group in line. Needless to say that the first train that day had left with people that had camped outside the park, something that was supposedly forbidden but they had found the way to do it without the police arresting them or something.

 Jon was the one that had taken her girlfriend into the world of rollercoaster. Since being a young boy, he had been an enthusiast because they lived in a town with many rollercoasters, where people fro mall over came to ride them. So he thought there had to be something great about those structures and he eventually discovered there was, when he was finally able to ride all of them. The day he turned eighteen years old, he rode a rollercoaster called Dragon slayer. He was so happy that day that he celebrated his birthday right on the park with all his family and friends.

 Mel had never really been a fanatic of rollercoasters. She had rode some in her younger years but she had never really seen the interest of riding rollercoasters. When she met Jon, it was obvious he was a fanatic and, at first, it seemed there was going to be a problem about that because he was too obsessed the subject. What she did was taking him a away of all of that, at least for some time a week, in order for him to know there were other things in life he could be trying.

 That’s how she got him to try a variety of food they had never eaten, especially very spicy food. He got really hooked on that, to the point he bought a bottle of Tabasco every single time he went out to a supermarket. His parents noticed right away and asked him if he was ok and he answered that he was very happy with Mel. Instantly, they blamed her for every change his son showed in the next months, something she had to live with every single time she visited their home.

 Eventually, she got to convince them, by actions, that it was their son that had a problem. Everything obsessed him with an incredible ease. He grew attached to things in a matter of minutes after knowing them. It was amazing the amount of foreign food he brought home, the amount of sports he tried to be involved in and the way he got involved in every single thing.

 When Mel convinced him of playing volleyball with her and her friends, he grew extremely competitive after a single match. Even after hurting one of her friends after hitting her face, Jon’s enthusiasm wouldn’t go out. By the following week, he had already bought a net to put on his family’s backyard as well as an official volleyball and the proper attire to play the game. He started watching matches in TV, surprising his father who had never seen him enthusiastic about a sport.

The same thing happened to him with rollercoasters, with other sports such as basketball and softball, with spicy food, confectionery and even with the grooming of his dog Mordo. He grew to be obsessed with every single thing, driving people around him mad.

 Mel was the first to talk to his parents about it and, surprisingly, they agreed with her. It was obvious there was a problem to be solved and it had to be addressed before Jon was older, before he had to start working somewhere or prior to someone taking advantage for those obsessions, because he was sincere and innocent in some way when he had that uncontrollable rush to be into something. They all agreed they would help him overcome his problem.

The first difficult thing was to actually speak to him and tell him what they thought was happening and what they thought could be a good thing to do. He wasn’t really convinced but he listened to Mel when she asked him to go to a therapist she knew very well. It was the father of one of her best friends and he was a very well renowned professional that helped various types of people to improve their mental health by doing exercises and talking a lot.

 Not surprisingly, Jon got really hooked up with going to the shrink. He would be there thirty minutes earlier and would try for Dr. Bernstein to let him stay longer, as he thought it was very interesting how he dug into people’s minds with his knowledge. Mel was very disappointed at first. It was then when she realized it would probably be for the best if she ended up the relationship, no matter how much she loved Jon. The situation could drive her insane and she didn’t want that for her life.

 But then, something happened. As Jon had to talk about his problems, had to really dig deep into his past, his present and his thoughts on life, his enthusiasm begun to dwindle down after a full month going to visit Dr. Bernstein. When he came back from there, he would never talk a lot and would prefer to play his videogames or work to get his degree in engineering. He grew very quiet around that time and his parents got very worried and, again, blamed the girlfriend.

 Eventually, she was invited to join one of the appointments. It was the first time she saw Jon cry and the doctor explained him they had found the cause of his obsessions. It was simply because he needed things to be trustworthy, he needed to trust into objects that would always satisfy him. It was not a surprise, as he had always had problems dealing with people. He had few friends and he had met Mel practically by chance.

 So they visited the Abomination as a way of atoning all of those awful feelings he associated with people and with objects. The idea was for him to say goodbye to his obsessions and just live a life where he could like something without it becoming a huge thing in his life.

 After two hours in line, a bit hungry and dehydrated, they entered the car in the Abomination. They sat down and put on the safety bar down. Then, he took Mel’s hand and smiled. She hoped that was a good sign.