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

miércoles, 13 de septiembre de 2017

Claudia's new life

   Rain had fallen all night long, forming little ponds all around the house. As it was surrounded with dirt, the water had converted the landscape into a horrible mixture of mud and overgrown foliage. However, the weather had improved over the morning, which Claudia took as a permission to go outside and check on her beloved plants. Normally, she would have carried all the pots inside before the tempest but that storm had come in such a way, no one had predicted it to land just there, on Hownhall.

 The small town still preserved much of its architecture and every year one of them was chosen as the prettiest in the entire county. The contest was only a month away and Claudia had a lot to do to make her estate be at its most perfect. She had already won the prize for two consecutive years and she planned to do so for the remainder of her life. Being seventy six years of age, she knew that wasn’t much of a time window but it was something to put her mind into.

 Her husband Jim had died only two years prior and that same year she decided to enter the contest. She had loved the man for many years, but he wasn’t the type to like a lot of people in the house. They would spend entire days enclosed in there, reading and not talking. To Claudia, that was torture. She liked when the children visited and brought the kids but Jim had always dreaded those visits because he had never really being into children, which explained why their own had such a tense relationship with him.

 So when he died, Claudia decided to do something that made her feel alive and still willing to contribute something to society and to herself. She got the idea from the weekly newsletter written by several women of the county. They were a small group that gathered often in the town’s main square and discussed the many ways that they had at hand to improve their lives and the coziness of the region. They loved their part of the country and wanted everyone to know about it.

 So once she entered the contest, Claudia decided to simply be the best at it. She went out of her way to get the most beautiful flowers ever seen, which she bought from people that did walks on the remote mountains and in areas that were difficult to access. Practically no one else had all of that in front of their house, so it certainly gave her an edge. The other detail was that, when she was much younger, Claudia had learned a lot about design from her deceased brother Remus, who had been one of the top designers in the capital, a great artist in every way.

 As she prepared once again for the contest, stomping the mud and cleaning all the leaves and overgrown branches of the trees, Claudia heard some rumble in the house that was closest to her. As she lived in the outskirts of the small town, only one other house was close to hers and it hadn’t been inhabited since before Jim had died. An older couple had lived there for years but they had both died and no one had ever come to reclaim the property. However, that was about to change.

 Claudia continued to use her gardening tools but she moved slowly towards her fence, from where she could easily see the entrance of the other house. There was a moving van in front of the gate and two men dressed in couple carried boxes into the house. More voices came from there but Claudia couldn’t really hear much more than the typical noise people make when moving things around. Later, she was tired of not seeing anything and decided to leave work for the day.

 At night, the woman would always make herself a hot cup of chocolate, with some small marshmallows to enjoy in front of her favorite dramas. Jim had never really liked sweet foods or drinks, so now she enjoyed them continuously. Her doctor had told Claudia that she should measure her consumption of sugar a little bit but seeing she was and older person, he also told her it wouldn’t be wise to cut on any food. So she didn’t and decided to treat herself every night.

 A powerful revelation on her soap was obscured by a scream, a loud and powerful scream coming from the neighbor’s house. Claudia didn’t got up from her armchair. She clicked on the “mute” button of her remote and tried to hear something else. It was possible at her age to imagine noises, so it wasn’t really that scary. But then, a weaker scream was heard. She decided to stay still and think what the best response would be. Seconds later, she was calling the police.

 Granted, the police always took a while to arrive. Such a small town did not have a police force to help people in need. They came from another county, which made their trip around twenty minutes. Claudia did not hear another scream during that time. She didn’t stand up either. She didn’t want to get so involved in the matter. She just wanted to clarify what happened because maybe her neighbors were simply loud people and she wanted them to know early on that she was not going to stand up for that. She had learned to be like that from Jim.

 A young female officer and an older male officer arrived exactly twenty minutes after the call had been made. Apparently it was still raining in their part of the country because they were drenched. Claudia did not let them inside her house and simply repeated what she had heard that night. The officer looked at each other and they decided to investigate. She knew they had decided not to believe her but that didn’t matter. Anything to live at peace in her home.

 She entered the kitchen as they left, preparing them some tea. It was a nice custom to give a beverage to people that came to help. True, she wasn’t going to let them get the floor all wet, especially after seeing their boots live a trail of prints on her property. But she had to be gracious and look as if she was accepting of everyone. Claudia clearly wasn’t, as she had been prejudiced for a long time, in part because of her husband but also because of her very conservative upbringing.

 Actually, she had noticed that the policewoman was not from those parts, or at least her parents weren’t. According to what she saw on TV, she knew it was wrong to feel that way about people but she couldn’t help it. It was as if something manipulated her from inside her head. She tried to change her ways but, in the end, it didn’t work. So she simply did what she had done with her husband for so many years: she kept her mouth shut and didn’t get into “difficult” business.

 The police officers came back in a matter of minutes. However, the man ran to the police car, not saying a word to Claudia. The young woman entered the house without being properly invited, grabbed the phone on the living room and started dialing. As she waited for someone to answer, Claudia was livid: there was mud all over the entrance and on the beautiful white carpets. They were ruined. She looked outside and saw, in horror, that they had broken a pot with gorgeous roses when coming back to the house.

 Claudia did not hear when the policewoman alerted her precinct that a double murder had taken place. She didn’t hear the gruesome details, of how the wife had been decapitated and how the husband had been found without his genitalia.


 The older woman only cared about her contest, about her little world. And it was all thrown to the abyss because of that silly murder. She was so enraged at the matter that she decided to find out who had killed the couple by herself. It couldn’t be more difficult than her topsy-turvy life.

martes, 15 de noviembre de 2016

State visit

   Everyone at the airport was ready. The staff had put on their best clothes and every single corner of the small terminal building had been cleaned to the last millimeter. From very early in the morning, people had arrived to help organize every single part of this impromptu visit. After all, it was the president of the most powerful country in the world. And theirs was one of the poorest and most isolated ones on the whole planet. However, the presidential plane had to refuel somewhere, so the small nation had received the honor of hosting the president for a few hours.

 From the moment they had been warned about the impending arrival of the plane, hundreds of people were put to work. Not only those in the airport, people who only really worked on weekdays and even then only in certain time frames, but also every single operator and technician available. They wanted not only the people to feel welcomed but also to make the best work possible with the plane. They got fuel from the city’s reserves, as the amount they had on the airport was not enough to refill a plane the size of the one they were going to see in a few hours.

 The process required almost every person in the capital, a city of about a thousand people, to wake up and also help by cleaning the streets of the city and the authorities enabling the movement of fuel reserves from where they stored it to the airport, which was fairly close to the city. People took to the streets with brooms and mops and every single cleaning help they could get, but the truth was no one really knew if the president was going to land and stay on the plane or walk around a little bit. Many people were curious like that.

 The president of the tiny nation was the one that was moving all over his house, calling the right people and asking everything from food to more cleaning products. He wanted to send a message through TV but the people of the studios were helping around so he decided to send it through the radio. It was much simpler and more effective; as it was the medium of communication that people listened to while they were preparing the city for the big arrival. Every single person in the country heard it and everyone understood the importance of the visit.

 To the eyes of the world, it was practically a miracle that their country actually existed. To be honest, it had been a thing of luck and one of those strange coincidences that happen out of nowhere. They were too isolated and unimportant. Practically everything they had came from their neighbor to the east. So they had known starvation and real poverty because when that neighbor didn’t have enough for themselves, they suffered too. But the world in general never really knew anything because they weren’t watching, until now.

 The country had no army but its people did behave like one once the president’s message had reached every single person. They knew they had around six hours to have everything ready. With luck, the weather up in the clouds would delay the plane a bit more to give them more time but they constantly checked with the aircraft and that didn’t seem to be the case. Everyone had to do their best in the time given. Only an hour after the president’s announcement, everything was coming up nicely and all citizens were helping, even elders and children.

 A huge amount of people arrived at the terminal in order to use the old kitchens that some rundown businesses had not used in several years. The idea was to cook a good amount of their national food for the people arriving, as well as other dishes that they might like. It wasn’t crazy to think that they would be very hungry, even at that early hour of the day. After all, this was all going on in the darkness of the night. The president was scheduled to arrive around eight o’clock in the morning, so they had to wake up or not even sleep.

 The cooking team was led by the nation president’s chef, his own wife. It wasn’t like in other countries were the president has everything and the people below him have nothing. In that nation, everyone was basically the same. People hadn’t starved in some years but they weren’t rich or even close to that. So the president’s wife decided it was best if someone close to the government like her supervised the food. It was the best way to guarantee that it would be perfect for someone with such a high profile as the ruler of the richest country in the world.

 They acknowledge that all those people in that plane, around two hundred according to the information they had shared with them, had been and eaten in places much better than their small country. That was obvious and they didn’t feel bad about it. But they wanted them to leave knowing a little bit more of their culture and about what they loved to eat and drink in those lands. The menu had been defined by the president’s wife and she was very confident that it was going to be one of the best feasts in the recorded history of their nation.

 It consisted of a special recipe for meatballs using a kind of cheese that was made from goat milk, which also happened to be used in their national beverage, which was kind of like a milkshake but less thick and richer in flavor. They also cooked the goats in various ways and were very proud about their vegetables and mushrooms, of which they had a very large variety. Various dishes were cooked with all those ingredients and some spices too.

 The small country’s president arrived in the airport only two hours before the arrival of the plane, to check everything out. The terminal had been painted in record time by volunteers and the control tower was bursting with life when, in normal days, it would only have one person and not even all day. He thanked everyone there and then went to the terminal’s commercial area where his wife and helpers were giving the final touches to the food. The smell had flooded the building and it was very delicious, so much that many stomachs growled loudly.

 Then, he went outside and did a walk around the tarmac and the runway. There wasn’t a single spec of dust anywhere, which he thought was absolutely magnificent, especially for such a windy part of the country. It seemed as if the weather was also helping them achieve their goal. The red carpet in the tarmac was the same one that the president had stepped on when he was inaugurated for his term, more than three years ago. A president’s term was five years and he couldn’t be reelected, which he personally thought was a good idea.

 He decided to check the band that had been practicing for hour in the cold and congratulated them for the amount of love they were showing the country. He stayed a bit to hear them play and, to be fair, they were not as prepared as he would have like, but there was no way of getting better musicians with only an hour to go. They would have to do. What made them special, at the end of the day, was that they played their instruments with real passion and the idea of making their country proud. And that was more than enough.

 The president decided to wait for the plane in the control tower. There, he would be able to know every detail about the upcoming visit. When he stepped in, the plane had crossed into their airspace. It would be only thirty minutes until they touched down in the runway. The atmosphere was really special. Every single person in the tower, in the terminal, in the tarmac and even in the city was ecstatic. This was, by far, the most exciting thing to ever happen in their country. And they had all worked together to make it the best day possible.


 The plane came out of the clouds and landed, in a very soft and elegant manner. Everyone applauded and greeted the people inside through the radio. The president ran outside, getting ready with all others. Many people from the city had come out of curiosity and they had been allowed to stay a bit further away. The plane parked exactly where they had determined it should go. For some minutes, nothing happened. Then, the door opened and everyone stopped breathing for a second. Their moment had come.

sábado, 20 de agosto de 2016

Big versus small

   Amanda hated that big departments store, the one that had being opened just a few months ago by the highway. It was mainly because every time she drove past it, it was packed with people and everyone from every corner of town had at least been there looking around. Besides the crow factor, she really disliked all those big brands that didn’t really specialize in anything, instead selling every single thing under the sun. It seemed greedy to her, from a business point of view.

 Everyone else loved it, even her own family. The day they had the idea to go to buy some of the Christmas supplies to decorate the tree; she was adamant in buying them in the Christmas store she had always gone to in the neighborhood. It was owned by a very nice woman who brought all of the objects from her town, where many of her family members helped in the process of making the ornaments. But now the number of people going there was diminishing a lot due to the new big store opening so close by.

 She decided to due that shopping herself in the small store from the neighborhood and found everything she needed right there. It was appalling it see that there was not one other person buying anything in the store and it was the precise season to do it. The owner of the store was so grateful, so gave Amanda one extra box of silver handmade balls for the tree. She didn’t wanted to accept them but looking straight in the eye of the woman, she decided it was best not to argue.

 When she returned home, she discovered her family was not there. Amanda was very angry because it was clear they had gone against what she had said. Of course, she hadn’t forbidden them to go to the big store but she was very disappointed that her own family was not supportive of the people they had known their entire lives. When they arrived with bags full of stuff, she ignored them and had an early night.

 Her husband even attempted to have sex with her but she refused, turning all the lights off and giving her back to him. There was no way she was going to have sex with someone that didn’t respect her convictions and everything she stood for. So she just closed her eyes and tried very hard to go asleep fast. She took several hours to do so, whereas he fell asleep in a second.

 The following morning, she discovered the fridge and the cupboard had been filled with products from that big store. Every single thing from there was twice as big as a normal product: the cans of beans left no room in their space, the soda had to be displaced next to the fruit to fit into the fridge. And the ice cream occupied almost the whole freezer compartment. To Amanda, it was obscene.

 Every time in the following days and weeks leading to Christmas, it was really hard to pass by the small store and seeing how no one was entering. One day, she decided to do something about it. She stopped by and looked for the owner. She spoke to her briefly about wanting to help her make the store the preferred Christmas store once again. The old woman was not convinced as she thought the big store was too attractive for people to stop going there.

 She confessed Amanda to have been there and told her hat the boxes of decorated balls and other ornaments for trees had many more product inside and the cost was ridiculously cheap. It was practically impossible to sell something cheaper; it would be like giving it away for free. She seemed very sad about her discovery; maybe even to the point she wanted to cry. But Amanda told her they could make something about it.

 The first step of her plan was doing what Fanny, the owner of the small Christmas store, had done before her: Amanda had to go to the big store and see for herself what it was that people bought there and why they all went there instead of shopping for nicer things in the small family store. It was difficult for her to confess that she had to go there and that’s why she waited for everyone to be busy to do it. Her husband and kids were in their final weeks of work and school, respectively, so it was perfect timing.

 The day she went to the big store, she was able to find a parking space in no time, even with most of them being already occupied. For a moment she felt please but then remembered what her mission was there. Inside, she decided not to ask anyone where to go because she thought it would look kind of strange if she ask for Christmas decorations and days later the other store got new things.

 So she wandered around, looking at the frozen foods section, which consisted of five very long aisles, the pet area that was like a small city and the automobile department, which had a very strong smell of new car, an aroma she had always loved. It was something very difficult to ignore but she was able to do it once she finally got to the Christmas ornaments area, which was packed with people looking for stuff.

First, she took pictures with her cellphone of what they had on display. Then, he paid close attention to the items that people seemed to be buying more. She pretended to be curious about some teddy bears to hang on the tree every time a worker went by her. She knew they wouldn’t appreciate her corporate spying at all. After an hour or so, she decided to go back home and analyze the situation.

 The very next day, she visited Fanny to have a talk about the ideas she had for the store and its products. The first thing was to give it a new look, inside and out. So she did a whole presentation, kind of a proposal to Fanny, of what to do and how to it. Fanny was so moved by the passion Amanda had put into it that she decided to go along and let her try to make her store an important part of the Christmas tradition again.

 Amanda’s family began to wonder where she went every single morning and afternoon. Her and her car disappeared so often that her children began to miss her mother’s presence, even if it was only to complain about something or if they needed her to take them somewhere in the car. Those duties were passed on to the father, which was definitely not very pleased to be the new chauffeur of the house.

 Back in the store, Amanda and Fanny had bought supplies in order to start the remodeling. They weren’t going to do something very deep because there was no time to hire professional to do any profound work. Besides, Christmas was not very far away and they had to take advantage of every single day they had. The idea was to have the store ready by December the 1st, in order for Fanny to get at least three weeks of good sales. Amanda felt they could do it easily.

 The first thing was to ask Fanny’s family in her hometown to change the design on the balls. They had to make new designs, more modern but still hand made. They decided to go with new colors and themes for each of the boxes. The idea was to make every single box of ornaments a very unique one. Fanny’s family was very happy with the idea and they got to work immediately.

 The second part of the remodeling was decoration. They spent a whole afternoon looking for the right paper with the perfect colors to do the decorating inside and outside. They also bought a 3D projector, which illuminated a wall in the outside and gave nice images of Santa Claus and other Christmas characters. That was the most expensive thing but she assured Fanny that it was going to be a great investment.


 They worked together intensely for the remainder of November and when December the 1st came, they held a big inauguration party where they invited every single person in the neighborhood. The new ornaments arrived just in time and they flew off the shelves, having to order a second bigger batch the next day. The store was a success and it was Amanda who had made it possible. She felt really proud of her work. She had proven everyone, including herself, that she had a very good head above her shoulders.

martes, 14 de junio de 2016

Tests

   The first day, he went alone. He didn’t wanted to get anyone involved in his personal life and he wasn’t ready to share his fears with someone else. He was even unsure about the whole thing but finally decided to go because he had to now. At last, he was making some money and he was about to go and live by himself. He already had a new place, his first ever in which he would not be sharing space with his family or with other people. A tiny apartment just for him. He had made the calculations several times and he knew he was able to pull it off.

 When he arrived to the hospital, they made him wait in a small room where all chairs were empty. No one else came that early to get tested. It was better like that, because he had no intention of running into anyone he knew and, besides, it was the only time he could pay a visit to the doctor without leaving his job. There was no way he was going to loose money to do that. He found a way to do it anyway and, after some time waiting, a nurse came for him.

 She led him to an office were a doctor asked him several questions. They were all very personal questions but he understood why those questions needed to be asked. He wasn’t offended at all but he did feel a bit embarrassed because it was the first time he really discussed these things with someone. The silly conversations with his friends, didn’t really count because there was always a certain amount of lying involved in that.

 Next, he was left alone in the office for a couple of minutes, time he took to take a look at the paintings in the room. There weren’t many. Most of the frames concerned some diploma or a family picture. But there were two actual paintings: one was the image of a field, probably wheat. The image seemed to have no end. In one side, little in the big space, there seem to be a couple of peasants, working in the field. Probably cutting some of the wheat or maybe taking care of something else.

 The other painting was an abstract work. It had a few read lines and dot among a jungle of black geometrical figures. It was very tiring to watch because it was obvious the red in the picture was being overwhelmed by the black. He didn’t have to be a genius to know what the picture was about. He was about to get nearer to the painting when the doctor came back with all his equipment.

 One by one, the doctor filled three small flasks with his patient’s blood. The process didn’t really took that long although it did seem longer for the man being drained out of blood because he suddenly felt dizzy and very weak. The person on the phone had told him he had to come without having anything to eat or drink. And now the doctor said he should do the opposite.

 As he stepped out of the hospital, he had to walk very slowly. He didn’t feel good at all. Not only was his brain aching, his arm was in pain too. After all, the man had used a needle in it three times. He had no idea the amount of blood they needed for testing but he thought that, at least, he could assume the results were going to be accurate with the amount of blood they had to double check any findings.

 He grabbed a taxi, which he never did, and asked to be taken to his work. He had money to pay but that expense meant he couldn’t so other things that week. A taxi ride was too much for him to handle on his low income and now more than ever, with the new place coming and the bills for that place and everything related to it. He was very happy to move out of his parents’ home but he was also worried that he would fail as an adult. After all, it had taken him thirty years to leave the nest.

 Once he arrived at work, he was greeted by people who told him how bad he looked. He told them he had being at the hospital for a flu he was feeling coming, and that they had asked him to come without anything on his stomach. So he ran up to his desk, left his bag there and then ran to the kitchen where he poured himself some coffee and looked around for the messenger boy, who was normally around the office at that time.

 He finally found him flirting with a secretary. Interrupting the conversation, he asked the boy to please go for him to the nearest store and buy him some things to eat for breakfast with his coffee. He gave the boy a bill and told him exactly what to buy. He also told him that he could have the change, which made the boy stand up fast and run out of the office in a huff. He returned to his office, a cubicle in corner of that floor, and started working. Yet, he realized he couldn’t do any working.

 The boy returned soon and he was able to eat and feel a bit less weak but he didn’t do much that day at work. He felt very dizzy and even thought he was going to vomit at one point. He ran to the bathroom and, thankfully, no one saw him do that. He stayed in the bathroom for several minutes, drinking water and sprinkling his face too in order too cool down. It didn’t really work that much but he had no idea of what else to do.

 That night, at home, he fell asleep fast. He was very tired. He just left his clothes all over the place and didn’t bother to have any dinner. When he woke up, he realized he had bled out of his nose, his pillow stained with a big puddle of dried blood. He was surprised he hadn’t been awake by the bleeding; yet he had been so tired that even that accident wouldn’t be significant enough to wake him up.

 He threw away the pillow and washed the pillowcase. He threw that too after he realized the stain wouldn’t come off. He didn’t tell anything to his parents about it and they didn’t ask why he didn’t have a pillow in the following days. After all, he was about to move and maybe he was throwing the things he was going to replace once he was in his own environment.  It was only a couple of weeks later when it happened.

 His mother cried a lot, as if he was going away to the other side of the world. True, the apartment was not very close to his family’s place, but it was in the same city all the same. He asked them to visit once he was ready to receive visitors, in other words, once he would have furniture and glasses and plates and all that stuff that make some place a proper home. He moved out a Saturday and the following Sunday was a hard day to put everything in place and buy a lot of things, including a new pillow.

 Mom and dad had given him some money to start and he was grateful for that because there was no way, with his salary, that he was going to be able to buy everything he needed for the new place. With that small help, he was able to make that place something he could be proud of. However, the weekend ended very soon and he had to work as he finished putting everything where it belonged. But by the third week there, he decided he could have a small gathering of friends and then ask his parents to visit him.

 Those two couldn’t be done at the same time because of the size of the place, but he was thrilled to do it. He asked his friends to bring their own bottles of alcohol. There was no way he was paying for those. They had a very good time, joking around and even dancing in the small space. They had to end the party when a neighbor complained about the noise. Ironically, it was a neighbor that was always kind of drunk.

 It was the following day, a Saturday and more than a month after his blood had been taken out, that he received a letter in his house. It was the first letter that he received there and it was kind of awful it had to be one from the hospital. Once he saw it, he wanted to open it. But then he remembered his family was coming for lunch. And he didn’t want that on his mind while he ate with them. So he put it away for the day and enjoyed his family.

 He cooked that day. His mother tried to help every so often, but he wouldn’t let her. They had the best day ever, looking at old pictures, eating a lot and giving decoration ideas for the whole place. His parents wanted to be involved in some way and he wasn’t rejecting the idea at all. He needed them by his side.


 The following day, alone, he opened the letter. He had known what it said long before he ever got tested. But to know was exactly how he thought it would feel: like a hot knife piercing through the skin. His life had been on a path for a long time and now, his eyes had been opened. What to do next?