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

viernes, 9 de marzo de 2018

Julia in the desert


   The stars seemed to be very close. Somehow, the sky in such a remote area of the world was different than what you would see in other parts. Julia was lying down on a think towel she had purchased before the trip and she started counting the stars but she got lost and tired quickly. She hadn’t even removed her boots before lying down and now she was falling asleep, in the middle of the desert. She hadn’t prepared her tent or any food. She was much too tired after her first day.

 Early next morning, she was woken up by a tickling on her stomach. Julia didn’t really open her eyes immediately. But as the tickling persisted, she decided to sit down and properly wake up. She stood up in fear once she realized the tickling came from the tough little legs of a scorpion that was parading itself all along her body. She checked herself for any stings but there was nothing. It was clear that, if the creature had stung her, she would be in severe pain.

 Julia decided to spend her second day looking for a better camping spot. She walked half that day all along the desert and the small patches of life she could find, until she found a small group of thin trees. They gave some shadow from the sun, which was perfect because it had started coming out behind big clouds and it was insufferable to walk like that. She was able to put up her tent in a few minutes and get inside before the full power of the sun was displayed. Thankfully, she had bought the right tent.

 She smiled at the thought of her looking around several stores until she found the right one. It was clear that many of the employees at all the stores didn’t really believe her when she stated she was going camping in the middle of the desert. She even explained to them she was studying biology and that was the perfect way to get more comfortable with future trips she might have to endure. But apparently she looked too “girly” and too “nice” to be the type of woman that goes camping.

 Julia even imagined that they pictured her doing her nails inside of her tent or maybe bringing a man with her in order to repel bugs and others animals. But she couldn’t care about all of that, about what she thought they were thinking or about what they were actually thinking. She could only care about her priorities and her first one was to become the best biologist ever. She really loved the profession but had always had a certain fear and disgust towards going camping or working in the middle of a jungle or any wild place. So Julia forced herself to camp and live through it alone.

 She sat down on the tent and removed her boots after almost a day of use. Of course, her feet smelled awful but it was the price to pay for such an adventure. Besides, she was certain that a source of water would be around and she would take advantage of that the moment she found it. Meanwhile, she had to conform with removing her boots and socks and giving her aching feet some air to relax. She opened her backpack, grabbed a couple of power bars and ate them in a few minutes.

 Food was one of the big problems she had to face doing what she was doing. It  wasn’t like she was prepared from day one to hunt and eat anything she found. Besides, she was in a desert and the amount of animals there was severely reduced. It wasn’t as if she was in the middle of a beautiful European forest where she could hunt down boars and roast them slowly over a nice fire. She couldn’t do that, so she had prepared herself with lots of cereal bars and small foods that she could move around easily.

 It wasn’t the best meal ever, but at least she had fresh water, which was enough to make her feel alive once again. She lay down for a bit and realized she hadn’t really done much related to biology. The closes thing had been her encounter with the scorpion and she had run so fast after that, that she was ashamed to call herself a scientist. So after relaxing for a bit, she put on her socks and boots again and a baseball cap her dad had given her before departure.

Then, she went outside to check for animal life outside the tent. Julia found some interesting bugs near the thin trees and was able to take pictures with her cellphone. She had a better camera inside her backpack but she really didn’t want to be fixing its configuration when trying to take the picture of a small creature. She promised herself to check the camera features before going to bed. She saw some more scorpions, as well as tiny spiders that seemed to like underneath the hot desert sand.

 When going back inside her tent, a powerful noise attracted her attention upwards and she realized a very rare visitor was flying over her. Before leaving her house, Julia had checked all the information she could about that part of the country, so she was well aware of the existence of such a majestic creature. It had a very large wingspan but its body was rather small. Its feathers were light yellow, in order to reflect the sun light and being able to blind its prey with them. It was such a beautiful design nature had achieved, so of course Julia took lots of pictures.

 Later that day, and after eating a whole tuna can with beans, Julia uploaded the cellphone pictures onto her laptop. She had brought several spare batteries for it, but even so she decided to limit her computer time to only an hour a day. She erased the pictures that she didn’t like and was about to turn off the computer when she decided to look at some of the other pictures she had on her laptop. Family pictures, others with friends and some at college too. She was smiling in most, not in all of them.

 She even laughed out loud when she realized she had a couple of pictures of her old boyfriends. She hadn’t seen any of them in a long time, as they had been only high school crushes and nothing more. Yeah, she had gone with one of them to prom and with the other one on a long summer vacation. But that was it, they were both now in the past and she had to move on. Actually, it had been partly because of them she had decided to follow her dream of becoming a biologist. They didn’t think it was a realistic dream.

 After turning off the computer and putting it away, she decided to grab the camera to fix the settings before using it the next day. She had bought that second hand camera online and had never touched more than a couple of times to know it could be turned on and off. That was it. Now she had to put everything in the right setting in order to capture the perfect pictures in the scorching desert. But as she wasn’t very good with things like that, Julia soon fell asleep with the camera on her chest.

 The next day, she woke up to see the camera had rolled to the side. She grabbed it to put away but then the bird with yellow feathers screamed loudly. Because this time, it did seem like a scream and not like the beautiful chant of a majestic bird. Julia stepped outside barefoot, only to see the sky was very dark and that the bird was on top of the nearby thin trees. The bird let out another “scream” and suddenly flew over Julia and away from the tree area. It seemed to be escaping something.

 Only moments afterwards, the ground began shaking violently. Julia fell to her knees and saw how her tent moved around as if tossed by some invisible force. She tried t o crawl her way back inside the tent but the earthquake stopped right before she was able to get it.

 Inside, all of her stuff had spilled out of the backpack. Food, the camera, phone and laptop, everything was upside down. The bird had warned her right in time. She was thankful and realized she had made the right choice by spending two weeks in that desert. She was going to make the best of it.

viernes, 19 de enero de 2018

In the dark

   Adam just let it all out. In that tiny bathroom, with the blue light and the very crammed stalls, he knew he had too much to drink. Normally, he would have known that before having to head for the bathroom in a huff, but this time he had been too distracted by the deceiving amounts of alcohol in each drink and the beautiful looks of the bartender. Besides, the whole atmosphere invited anyone there to forget about the world outside and just focus on pleasure and fun in that moment.

 He was lucky there was a roll of toilet paper in the stall. He flushed the water down and then proceeded to clean the edges of his mouth. He felt more than dirty but decided the place wasn’t the proper place to feel like that. After all, people went there to loose themselves and not the other way around. As he threw the toilet paper into the basket, a man appeared from above, startling him. Adam recognized him as the owner of the establishment, who was the only one dressed differently.

 You see, that place was what they call a sex club in many places in the world. It was a mix between a bar and a hotel but without the burden of having to take an elevator and close the door. People would just have sex anywhere, except for the bar area which was strictly used to drink, smoke and have a little chat if that’s what you wanted. And it’s also important to note that Adam was in one that only accepted men inside, so there wasn’t a woman to be seen. Only a lot of male clientele.

 The owner asked Adam if he was ok and Adam told him he was and that he was craving something to eat. The owner disappeared, so Adam opened the stall, washed his mouth in one of the sinks and then head off to the bar again, where he would ask for a soda or something with no alcohol. As he put his arms on the bar, the bartender smiled at him again, as he had done many times before during the night, and that was more than enough for Adam to forget his short trip to the bathroom.

 As he sipped his soda, he look around and realized the amount of people in the club had doubled in the last thirty minutes, which made sense as it was peak time, the moment of the night when most men would seek that kind of place. It wasn’t expensive, or cheap. It was just the right price and that’s why some came in for some time and then just left, having received or given what they wanted. Some people would think it was a dirty and awful place but the truth was it was pretty much the contrary, considering people were having sex practically all over the place.

 The owner of the establishment appeared again at the bar. He was carried two big bowls: one contained popcorn and the other had potato chips. He told the bartender that he would be coming back with more in a minute. The young man working on the other side of the bar nodded and then looked at Adam, winking an eye to him. On the street, Adam would have never known what to do in such a circumstance, but in that place, not only did he smile openly but he also winked back to the bartender.

 For the next hour or so, he didn’t leave the bar area. He just looked around at the people that came and went and even engaged in conversation with many of them. It was funny how far those conversations were from sex or anything related to it. In an area closer to a big open window, some older men were discussing about politics and next to Adam, two younger men were gossiping about some of the people they knew in college. Apparently, one of their teachers was on one of the other rooms.

 Hearing that conversation, Adam realized he had been standing at the bar too long and that he had to go and check out the other rooms, at least once. It wasn’t like he only attended such places because of the drinks and ambiance, he also engaged in sex with strangers. But sometimes he didn’t felt like it as much as he would have wanted to. He didn’t feel the need to go and just do it. But he decided it was best to look around, especially because his legs hurt from not moving for such a long time.

 There were two floors: the lower level was where the bar and the reception area were located. The reception was not only a front desk, very similar to a hotel, but also a large room with lots of square shaped lockers all around. They were all adorned with a number and different colors and in the center of that room there were several benches, where the men could take off their clothes without any rush. Funny enough, almost no one looked at others there. It was something like an unspoken rule.

 Besides the locker room, the front desk and the bar, the lower level of the structure also house two rooms. The light was lacking there but that was compensated by the fact every single visitor to that place was given a colored bracelet at the entrance. The bracelet was there for purposes of lighting rooms and also giving a code to other people about your intentions in that place. It was a great achievement of homosexual men to have coded every single part of their behavior in order to avoid interference from other parties and unwanted attention.

The rooms in the lower level were almost empty. They were destined to certain tastes that only a handful in a large group would enjoy. But sure enough, there were enough people there to use everything they had at their disposal in those rooms. By the sounds, it was clear people were having fun and Adam decided he wouldn’t want anyone to spoil something like that for him. So he went back to the stairs he had seen before and started to walk up slowly, as some people were coming down and the spiral case was a bit narrow.

 When he got to the upper level, he saw the familiar doorways; he felt the weight of the air and the scent of it too. He had been in that place several times before, many more than he would even confess. He knew how the rooms were distributed and how much it all looked like a regular apartment, with different rooms for different purposes. There were bedrooms with large beds but also a couple of living rooms with large sofas and even a terrace, which was not very popular due to the freezing cold climate outside.

 People on the street couldn’t see up there because there were several small pine trees blocking the view by the edge of the terrace. The same thing happened with the windows, which had all been painted black in order to avoid any complaints by neighbors or passersby. It was a very large but also discreet place were men could just gather and do whatever they felt like doing, as long as they respected each other. No one said it but that was a huge part of a place like that: you had to respect everyone.

 Not everyone looked like a model and the truth was that most people liked that. Because the reality of it all is that people look like people and that’s it. So men went there to see other men, to find themselves in others. They went there to have sex, yes, but also to free themselves from the shackles they wore every single day at work or at home. Some had hurt others without wanting to and that place was one where they wouldn’t do that because honesty and respect were the norm there.

 Many people would not understand all of that. And that was ok, or so Adam thought. If everyone did the same thing, there wouldn’t be any special places or people or anything. We would just be copies of the same boring thing and, who wants that?


 In one of the rooms, Adam was grabbed by the waist and he suddenly felt someone’s lips on his lips and a couple of hands touching his back. His bracelet helped him identifying the bartender, who had apparently escaped his duties and had followed him into the darkness.

lunes, 15 de enero de 2018

Mantis

   Marina had been trained by the best martial artists in the planet and she had been practicing other techniques to make her moves even more fluent than ever. She had always been interested in sports and being fit, especially since in high school she had always been such a chubby little girl. Many of her classmates would make fun of her because of that. She would cry and tell her dad or her mom but by the end of her school years, she didn’t care anymore. She would answer with silence.

 When in college, she decided to become more active and enrolled in karate classes and then she went to a special school were she could learn how to handle a vast assortment of guns. Of course, she would only learn how to use the least complex ones because of her status as a civilian, but that was enough to make adrenaline pump all over her body. When she pushed her body to the limit, whether it was on the shooting range or in the gym, she felt liberated, someone else even.

 It was a surprise to her when, two years into her studies, she was approached in the campus by a man in a black raincoat. It happened at night, which wasn’t the best setting for a woman in campus. Marina had noticed the man walking behind her for a while and when he was closer, she used her elbow to strike his nose and then her fist to punch him hard in the stomach. She started running away from him but she was stopped when he caught up with her, pulling Marina from her sweater’s hoodie.

 She felt to the ground but didn’t loose any time: she used a very powerful kick in the shins to topple the man down and she was about to pull out her pepper spray when the man showed her his CIA badge. She pulled back just in time, watching as his nose bled profusely. She was confused and thought trouble was just a small word for what could happen to her. She feared that she had probably punched some undercover guy in the face. But why was he chasing after her?

  The man asked for help to get up and she did held her arm forward to pull him up. The man tried to clean his coat, covered in dirt and dead leaves, without taking a long look at what was happening in his face. He was still bleeding a lot. He only pulled out a handkerchief from one of his pockets kind of wiped some of the dried up blood off his face, not that it helped much. Marina stood there, afraid to run away but also to stay by the man. She grabbed her backpack, which she had removed when she landed on the campus’ floor.  Everything was fine inside it.

 The man finally started talking. He said he worked with the CIA and that he frequently probed the grounds looking for new recruits. He had been interested in Marina for a long time and had decided to talk to her that night. He admitted to the idea being a little bit stupid, with everything that happened to young women in that context, but he was also glad she had responded in such a manner when he came after her. It really showed that what they were looking in her was definitely there.

 Before Marina could ask any more questions, he gave her his card, with a few droplets of blood. He told Marina to arrive to that address the next day at five o’clock in the afternoon. He would be there to talk to her about the possibilities she could have with the agency and about her past, present and future in college. Before she could even say a word, the man turned around and walked away rather fast. Maybe he was afraid of getting hit again or he had realized how serious the nose thing was.

 Marina arrived at her dorm in minutes but she couldn’t sleep at all after what had happened that night. She was already beneath a lot of pressure from college, with all the work she had to do. She also had her training and her gym schedule. She was even considering helping in a fundraiser which was about helping young woman in campus but everyday seemed to disappear after that man had told her she could have “possibilities” with him and the agency he represented.

 She arrived right on time the next day. There, she met the man again, who had apparently been at the doctor’s because his nose had been properly taken care of. The bandages made him look a little bit different than the night before, or maybe it was the lighting. The point was that he was not alone. A woman, around his age, sat on the desk when Marina came in. None of them smiled or did anything to greet Marina in their space. They just went right to the questions and they did have a lot of those.

 After a long sessions, maybe two hours, of questions about her childhood, upbringing, education and interests, the woman asked her coworker to tell her again about what had happened the night before. Marina was a bit ashamed to hear about it, especially when she wasn’t asked herself about it, so she remained in silence, nodding when the woman seemed to need confirmation of what the man said. The story was short, so she didn’t have to endure that awkward moment for too long. The woman then asked Marina to meet them again the next day, in a new address, inscribed in another card.

 The next day, Marina entered her gym very late at night. The moment she had seen the address on the card, she had realized she knew the place by heart. Her trainer was there and she was glad to have a familiar face there. But he seemed very concerned and could only give her a nod when she entered the place. The woman and the man from the CIA were there and also two other men, closer to her age or at least so it seemed. They were dressed in gym clothes and looked at her as angry bulls.

 They all walked towards a corner of the space, one covered in mats. The woman from the CIA told Marina that she needed to see for herself that what her partner said that she was able to do was actually true. It was the only time the woman asked Marina if she wanted to go through with it all. Marina thought about how weird the whole thing was, how strange it was to be in one of her favorite places in the world but feeling as uncomfortable as she had never really felt.

 She had arrived in gym attire, so the first match began right away. One of the big guys she saw at the entrance was her first match. She guessed the second one was going to be against the other one, if she survived. The man behave more like a bull than like a man but she was able to counter every single one of her blows, no matter if they were kicks or punches, with relative ease. He was close many times, but Marina had trained hard in order to be not only effective but also incredibly fast.

 When she finally did her gut punch move, the other guy entered the fray and toppled her to the ground, making her feel like she had lost every bit of air that was inside her body. She tried to stand up but the second brawler kicked her hard on one side and the other was preparing to ram her again. What she did next was something based more on her instincts than on her actual skills. She jumped on top of the biggest guy, sat on his shoulders and tried to asphyxiate him with her thighs.

 Then, after a few seconds, she jumped down, taking advantage of the movement to kick the other guy straight in the face. He fell down like a deck of cards. The remaining guy was about to punch her when the woman yelled: “Stop!” And he did.


 Her trainer and the CIA guy were looking at her with eyes wide open. But the woman was actually smiling, something that didn’t really fit her appearance. She then walked closer and grabbed Marina by the hands “I have work for you”, she said, without dropping the creepy smile from her face.

lunes, 27 de febrero de 2017

Best actress

   After a very long night, she left her award on the table beside her bed once she had gotten to her home. It wasn’t really home but it was the place she was staying for the moment and that was good enough. Her brother had said goodbye some moments ago and now she was alone, late at night, removing everything from her earrings to the very expensive dress she had been offered. The shoes stayed besides a chair all night, the first thing she had removed, not a surprise.

 For a long time, she contemplated the award and she was glad that no one else but her was there too watch because she would have been too embarrassed. But alone, she had the time and opportunity to really look at her prize, the crowning achievement of her career after only having been working for ten years. She knew she was a very lucky girl, so contemplating the prize made it all so much more real, something even more thrilling. She smiled and then she heard someone at the door.

 It was one of her assistants who announced that the people of the jewelry company had come to collect their things. She didn’t quite get why they would come to her so late, but it was better that way because she had been very worried all night, trying to protect her ears and neck from every possible accident, which was very difficult with all the people around and all of the moving and talking and waving. She removed it all, handed it to her assistant and told her to give it to them.

 She would have given them their things in person, but she was very tired to do so. Hoping that the people that gave her the dress wouldn’t appear out of nowhere, she walked barefoot to the bathroom and took the dress off there. She hung it on the closet and then brushed her teeth and washed her face. She had the feeling of having been running through a coal mine or something like that, maybe because the make-up was now running down her face after so many pictures and poses.

 The pajama she had brought was made of two pieces: blouse and pants. They were both filled with teddy bears, which made her laugh. She put it on and quickly after she was already in bed, looking again at the little man that was standing on the table beside her. She couldn’t stop watching him and she knew it would be difficult to look at anything else for the days to come. But she had to make an effort because life was still going and not everything stopped because she had received a prestigious award. It was difficult as it was so beautiful.

 The actress stared at the statue and slowly fell into a deep slumber. In her dream, she was not in a fancy dress or even in her pajama, but dressed as a waiter in a restaurant she felt she knew but didn’t quite know where to put it. It felt strange but then someone asked for her and she ran to offer her services. The man that was ordering looked exactly like the actor who had won that night, just before her. But the expression on his face was the one of someone who didn’t know her.

 He wanted some apple pie and coffee. She wrote on her notepad and then left for what she thought was the kitchen. But once she pushed the door, she was the character in the movie that had made her a winner that night. She had the same dress she had put on for so many days, several months to be exact. It was bright yellow and had no real features besides its color. The fabric and even the smell felt just like she remembered them. It felt it had all happened a long time ago.

 She then realized she was inside the movie and it was her moment to perform. As she had done several times for the last few months, she did her dance number, the big one everyone in the world had been talking about. Almost at the end, a man would lift her up and then put her down again. But this time her partner during the dance number was no other than her actual father. It wouldn’t have been very shocking if it weren’t for the fact he had died a couple of years back.

 She was glad to see him again. He didn’t smile or talk to her at all; he just danced in the most beautiful and gracious way possible. When the time came for him to lift her, he did the most amazing job at it. She cried and hugged him but it seemed she was the only one doing the hug. Maybe it was because she was imagining him but he wasn’t putting any type of pressure on the hugging, he seemed to be there only for the sake of having someone standing in for the real dancer of the movie.

 It didn’t matter to the young actress. She hugged very tight and wanted that moment that wasn’t real to last an eternity. But as dreams often do, they end in the most sudden way. She soon found herself awake, still sitting on her bed, with her neck hurting because she had fallen asleep in the most uncomfortable position ever. She gave her a soft massage but didn’t leave bed, instead she looked at her award again and, only for a moment, she imagined it to be a smaller version of her father. That made her smile just before adopting a better position to sleep.

 Someone came for the dress when she was sleeping. She thought it was a very good idea not to wake her up, maybe everyone thought she deserve everything that day because se had achieved something not many people had been able to. And she was rather young and that even more uncommon. When she finally woke up, it was already late but no one had come to bother her. Again, she sat down at the edge of the bed and stared at the prize, which seemed to be waiting for her to wake up.

 It had lost some of its brightness, maybe because so many people had touched it. She could actually see fingerprints all over the statue. The woman stood up and looked around for her purse, where she thought she had the special cream they had given her to clean the award. But then again, she realized it was not something that had to be done on that very moment. Actually, there was something even better she could do right there, before anyone knew that she had woken up.

 She grabbed the award and felt it: its weight, its shape and height. It was not cold or warm. Then, she acted as she had just received and acted surprised and bewildered for a moment, not in front of a mirror but in the middle of her room. She was suddenly interrupted by her assistant who talked through the door: she had a long day of interviews for magazines and TV shows, so it was time for her to head to the shower and then running around the city to get all of her commitments done.

 As she entered the bathroom, she left the award on the counter, by the sink. She removed her pajamas and underwear and then stepped into the shower. There, she used hot water to relieve herself of everything that felt like a layer on her skin, things that were not really there but only on her mind. She had finally made it; she had finally become the person she had always wanted to be. And now, the path to be walked was new and amazing, painted with the most beautiful colors.


 In the shower, she smiled. She stared at it again, just to know it was there, and then smiled once more. She felt so damn lucky.