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

miércoles, 11 de octubre de 2017

The day he wanted to be someone else

   Trying to sleep on that big room was an impossible task. Not only the windows had cracks that let the cold wind of the night in, the stone floor prevented anything to be very warm, even under the covers. It was a dreadful place to stay for a night and John had to stay there for, at least, a whole week. It had not been his choice to go on such a remote place for a vacation. If it had been for him, he would have stayed in his cozy tiny apartment, with his cat Michael.

 But a letter had come on the mail telling him to wait for its writer during that week. It didn’t specify a date and the only thing he could learn out of it was that, whoever had wrote the letter, he or she knew a lot about him and about his family. In three pages, he wrote things that only a family member would know. It was very eerie but John had a sister and a brother, so his first reaction was to think it was one of them, or maybe even his parents, who would be most likely to actually written a letter in paper.

 After finishing the letter he emailed his family and told them it was a very funny joke, especially with his birthday approaching, but they all responded that same day telling him they had nothing to do with a letter. They even joked that the world was too advanced for such thing and that they hadn’t touched a piece of paper or a ballpoint pen in years. And to be honest, John hadn’t done either of those things either in a long time. Paper and pens where only in banks. So who was behind all of it?

 He decided not to respond and just doing nothing. Maybe it had been mailed to him by mistake or maybe it was just a very bad joke. There are people in the world that don’t really have a good sense of humor. Many have a deviant kind of humor that only a few people understand and sometimes only them. But the letter was not even funny, on any level. Maybe it was just a random thing, someone hoping to get a reaction out of the blue. It was possible, John said to himself.

 However, as the dates in the letter grew closer, John received another letter. It had the same kind of calligraphy but this time it was way shorter, more concise and had a certain air of urgency. The person that had written knew that it was difficult to believed someone that knew him so well was written but it clarified that it was a matter of life and death. The letter begged for John to go to where it was indicated and wait there for more information. He had to trust his instinct. And then the letter finished with a simple but resonating phrase: “You have to come because you need to close that chapter for good”.

 That really scared John. He had never discussed his past with anyone else. Not even his family knew everything that had happened to him when he was younger, the things he did when he was out of the house. John had always been the kind of child to stay behind, to have a small amount of friends and prefer to play with toys or videogames at home instead of going outside. But he did try to be another kind of person and it was then when it all happened. The trip reminded him of everything.

 He arrived to that sad hotel the day the week indicated in the letter began. He had to ask for a special permit in his office, permit that was strangely granted very fast. It was not very common for him or anyone else there to get permission to leave for a whole week that easily. The whole situation felt really strange, as if someone else had had some sort of hand in the whole matter. It was a very scary situation but he decided to ignore those facts and just do what he felt he had to do.

 The hotel was the only one in that small town, located about three hours away by road. As he had decided a long time ago not to drive a car, he had to take the bus and that experience was worse than anything because of the delays and all of the walking he had to do. It wasn’t that he hated walking around or anything, more that he really didn’t wanted to move more than necessary for whoever had lured him to that far away place. The town was made of maybe twenty blocks, more or less.

 The hotel felt more like a cemetery than nothing else. The only difference was the fact that there was a roof over his had. Aside from that, you could really feel the same kind of cold weather; the same ripe smell all over and that very sad light that makes you feel unhappy about being alive. The second day there, he woke up rather early. After a cold shower, he decided to walk around town and hope he could find the person he was looking for right then. Or should that be the other way around?

 The cold wind was powerful, descending from a mountain range that seemed to be really close. A woman in the grocery store told him the temperature was always the same every single day of the year. No summer days, even if the sunny was high up above them. The rays of sunlight also felt cold in that part of the world. She also realized John was a visitor and she recommended him to go to the nearby hills for some fresh air. She assured him it was much less depressing than the small town. Hearing her say that, gave him a little bit of hope, which felt out of place.

 He went to the hills every single day, for the next few days. On day six, he decided to leave the following morning very early. All that time in such a small town was making him insane. He wanted to hear noise again, to hear babies complaining and people being awful to each other in the street. He wanted to hear the sound of cars and planes and trains and he wanted to have his cat Michael next to him to warm up his feet before going to bed. He didn’t belong there.

 That day, he walked all over the place and stayed in the hotel lobby for at least three hours after lunch in order for his so-called host to come and tell him what it was that he knew, what the hell he wanted to speak with him about. He waited and waited, hearing the sound of the clock and the snoring of the man that tended the front desk. He wanted that awful week to end and was furious to have been made to spend one of his legal holiday weeks in such a sad a depressing town.

 In the afternoon, he headed off to the hills again. He did like to see the landscape, the mountain and a river far away. Sometimes there were some sheep around and he loved to caress them. That day they came again and he wanted to touch them one last time but they left suddenly, as a figure wearing a large overcoat walked towards him. It was a man, a very frail looking man, maybe the same age as he was. When he was closer, John was able to see a scar above one of his eyebrows.

 Then, he gasped and walked back a bit, scared of this vision of the past. Even without saying a word, he knew who that person was. As a teenager trying to get people to like him and having friends, John had stolen the keys to one of his classmates’ parents’ car. It had been done on a dare. He had to steal the keys and drive the car down the road. It was a short trip, a crime without victim. Or so he thought. The man standing in front of him was the kid he had run over that day, so many years ago.

 He had always thought the kid was dead. He had left them there, on the pavement, to die. He had turned around the car and left it at that. He always thought the police would find him. But nothing ever happened and John eventually learned not to think about that day.


 And yet, there he was, the victim of his attempts to be a normal kid. John wanted to be someone else and all he could produce was a horrible accident. His victim had traced him down for a long time and had been watching, waiting for his moment to come forward.

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.

viernes, 11 de agosto de 2017

Too late

   Rain would fall for hours and hours. It seemed it would never end. The storm had been lashing out against the land for many days now and only from time to time it would feel like it stopped being so harsh. But then it seemed to restart again, twice as strong, relentless against anything living in the land. Even the oceans and lakes were in turmoil. Everything was upside down and people had begun to suffer serious shortages and problems, mostly related to food and general supplies.

 What families did was to ration food and try to consume as little as they could. They hardest hit groups were the ones where grandparents and small children shared a household. No one had the capacity to feed such a large amount of people and it wasn’t unheard of that so many people lived under one roof in that region. After all, it was very far away any big cities and that was the way people had lived for generations. Rain had never changed that before and this storm was no exception.

 So they had to make what they could with what they had, which wasn’t a lot but they made it last as long as they could. Fish, chicken and beef were kept like treasures and mostly vegetables were eaten because people could still try to recover some of those from beneath the mud. Some were pretty resistant like celery or carrots. So they consumed that first with maybe a little piece of actual animal fat every day. Pieces were slightly larger for children but that was not enough.

 Many children lived in those mountains and they were seriously affected by the rain. The poor quality of water to make their food and the amount of nutrients from what their parents could give them was simply not enough for them to be correctly nourished. After the first week, many children started feeling bad and many parents did the trip beneath the rain towards the small town nearby, where the only doctor in the region lived. He always had bad news for the concerned parents.

 They had malnourishing problems, very serious cases of infections and lack of proper hygiene because of the water being contaminated by damages to water pipes and so on. Many children died instantly, the others filled the few rooms the doctor had available on his small practice. He asked for help from other parts of the country but the roads were under water or severely damaged and no trains or planes could reach the remote location. They had been driven out of the world by the storm and had been let to die or starve for who know how long.

 When the elders started feeling as bad or worse than the young, people were in a general state of panic. It didn’t felt real that it was happening all at once. Some thought of the storm as a punishment from the Gods but others thought it was simply the chaotic weather changes happening all over the world. They might have not been the most well connected people in the world but many had television sets and they knew very well about climate change and what it had done in other parts of the world.

 After three weeks, an emergency team was able to reach them through the forest and then taking a very long path that made them penetrate a nature preserve. It was the only way to reach the small town and that was only because they studied several maps of the region in order to find that hidden way in. When they reached the only settlement in the mountains, they were able to tell people that a couple of helicopters had been sent before they left for their mission, but they had never called back.

 People were only shocked to hear this but only for a few minutes, because their families were suffering and it was too much to start caring for others at the moment. They needed the help the group brought them and that was the only way they could think of to change the state of things. So the volunteers, a group of fifteen men and women, got installed at the doctor’s house and started helping with vaccines and other treatments they had brought on big crates that had been carried by mules and themselves.

 Sadly, all they did was not enough to really ensure that everything was going to be fine. The rain wouldn’t stop and sick people from the most remote areas of the mountain range would come in at all time, very wet and sicker than they had left. It was a really sad thing to see for the volunteers and it was difficult for them not to be sick as well just by looking at all the despair and the human condition that was in display on that small community. It was hard and a test to their abilities.

 After a couple of days, it was decided that most of the group would go back to civilization. Only five people would remain with the doctor, in order to help with all the patients arriving and leaving every day. Besides, the townspeople needed hands to bury the people that had died and they also needed appropriate bags to do that because contamination of the water had to be avoided at all costs. The group also had to bring more people and medicines, a whole lot more than before. They left early one morning and expect to reach their destination in two days.

 And they did. However, they also encountered the crash site of one of the helicopters. The scene was gruesome and some of the helpers had to vomit right besides the wreckage because of the stench and the sight of things. They had to mark the place on a map, on their electronic devices, in order to go back there in future in order to collect the corpses and any valuables that could shed a light on the cause of the accident. But thunders above them reminded the group that the storm was the culprit, no matter the details.

 Meanwhile, in town, another tragedy happened at night and there had been no way to escape it: the mountain itself collapsed and carried several homes from almost the summit to the foot of the hill were the most densely populated part of the region was located. So bad it was, that the patients at the doctor’s house felt the rumble in the middle of the night and they alerted others in order to evacuate. But that didn’t happen because there was no other place to go besides there.

 The volunteers that had been left there had the very difficult task to find survivors. However, they soon realized that was not going to happen. They started finding bodies, after some of the mud and dirt had been washed away by the rain. It was gruesome to see their faces covered in brown or grey and their expressions of fear forever imprinted on their faces. That had been their last thing to do and it looked horrible. The volunteers, however, did what they had to do.

 People from town helped with blankets and also tablecloths and the dead were covered with those and then lined up in front of the doctor’s office. Then, one body at a time, they were carried to a clearing in the woods where the ground was firm. They had to spend several hours digging for a hole, but they did so anyways, in order to provide a dignified place to rest for the many people that had died at night, never expect nature would turn against them after so many years living there.

 It took one more week for more help to arrive. The condition of the trail they had used had decreased and the amount of things they brought was not easy to transport. Besides, many people on the outside world wanted to help, to do something for those poor souls.


 The storm ended two weeks after than, suddenly one afternoon. Clouds slowly floated away and the sun came back. But the lives of that community had changed forever. Death had covered them with its veil and now they couldn’t see a proper future in what had been their home for such a long time.

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.