The very next day, the garden was covered with a very fine layer of snow covering everything. The most beautiful flowers and the largest plants were all covered in white, giving everything a “frozen in time” appearance. The house inhabitants had never seen snow, so when the first workers saw it that morning, they didn’t really know what to think. The low temperatures that winter were something they had never seen either so it was a very particular season for everyone.
The first person to see the garden covered in snow was Mrs. Ross, the cook of the house. She had been living there for so many years but had never seen anything quite like that. She was so surprised that breakfast that morning was not ready on time and some people and the family had to wait or go hungry for a couple of extra hours.
As curious as everyone was for what was happening, every person coming late to work, showing up minutes later for a date or simply not coming because they had seen snow, were all excused as if it was the most normal thing. The snowfall lasted for about a week and then it disappeared. People were very disappointed when snow melted and everything they had thought was so magical was now covered in this very thick layer of mud that was nowhere near as attractive as snow. People returned to their normal lives and the winter experience was soon a thing of stories.
The house were the garden had been covered suffered severe transformations between the first snowfall ever and the following one, which took place fifty years later. Some of the people that had seen it the first time as kids were still alive and they didn’t get tired of telling the story once and again, as if people were not living through it. It was possibly because of the excitement and because not a lot of things happened around there.
The garden of the house was still there but the place was no longer a private place. It had been converted not so long ago into a museum after the family that had lived there for generations had decided to sell to the best bidder because every single part of their business, now related to the technology industry, was located nowadays in the city and having such a grand state in the countryside was very expensive to maintain.
So the building had become a place where people could learn about the past but also where they could remember and experience in a very special way the two times snow had fallen in the region. There were pictures and poems and various others artistic manifestations, remembering what had happened in a variety of ways.
There was even a picture of the cook that had been the first one to see snow. Her descendants came for the opening day of the museum and were very happy to see their relative love forever in such a fabulous space. More pictures, drawings and so on were placed all over the house, which had been decorated in a way it had never probably been decorated before. The museum had disguised the house as something it wasn’t, trying to get more and more people to come and enjoy the place.
Soon, that wasn’t enough so they had to integrate the various areas surrounding the house, in other words the rest of the state that was still being exploited by a private company. Some parts of the land were used to grow various organic vegetables and others had fruit with the largest portion been dedicated to grapes and a small processing plant where the best grapes were chosen to be sent to another place where they were turned into a very decent wine. It wasn’t the best but it wasn’t bad either.
The people who ran the museum decided to make it all part of the daily walks around the house. They wanted to show the visitors how farming worked in the region so they also created a small petting zoo and worked with a foreign company in order to use the grapes in the farm to make their own brand of wine. Of course, the first few bottles wouldn’t be very good but with time they could end up having one of the best products because of the experts they were hiring to ensure that everything was as good as it could be.
People really enjoyed the new additions to the museum. Now it was a more complete experience and many visitors didn’t even care to enter the museum, the enjoyed themselves thoroughly in the fields and with the animals. Various vegetables and fruits were added to the crop selection and the wine started being sold to supermarkets in the city with a very special sticker that invited everyone to witness the creation process of the beverage.
That proved to be a very good move and visits increased once again. The bad thing was that the museum was not being visited as much as it had been before. The situation was so bad for the house as it was that they decided to make it a free entrance if you cared to buy a pass for all the rest of the attraction in the state. That helped the snowfall story become well known once again.
The place was renamed Snowfall Fun Park and they dedicated themselves to find new ways to attract more customers each year. After the name change, they were able to convert a small yard that had only been used for maintenance into a small food court selling various foods from around the world. The place was packed daily.
The biggest news coming from the park was the announcement that they had bought the whole neighboring terrain, which was almost as large as the one they were operating in currently. They would use all that land to build an area for rides and overall entertainment. Every single thing would be themed around snow and winter sports. The main attraction would be a huge roller coaster named the Yeti, which had almost no relation with the region except for the fact that those fantastic creatures allegedly lived in the snow.
The construction of that area was halted when they discovered some bones and rock alignments that seemed to be very interesting to the scientific community. As it turns out, it had been forgotten that the area had been the place for the old homes of the main house workers were located. The famous cook had lived right there and it was her bones that the machines almost crushed to dust.
When her DNA was picked up from them, traditionalists in the region were appalled that such a beloved person would have been died in a place no one knew about and now they had discovered she had never been properly buried anywhere. Many signed a petition to have her remains be buried in the garden of the main house, as a gesture of respect to her legacy and the lives of all the other workers and farmers of the region. After all, she had been a very humble woman, not wealthy or anything like that.
Some even argued that the remains of the houses should not be moved and should be integrated in the project, in order to bring back the main interest why people would go to that place. The company that operated the park was at first very reluctant to make any changes because of the investors but they eventually saw a way they could win with it.
The excavations of the remains of the houses were left alone. The design of the roller coaster was changed in order to not have any negative effects over any of the older structures in the park. Every other building stayed the same as in the original expansion plans except for an area where they would have meet and greets with actual farmers and have classes for interested visitors. That was moved to the farm area in order to surround the exaction area with a low fence and feature it as an attraction.
Five years later, the third snowfall was registered in the region. It had been so many years since the last one that people were happy to have their museum in order to remember the story. Parties and festivals were organized and the legacy of a single moment in history kept on living on the minds and hearts of the people.
martes, 30 de agosto de 2016
martes, 23 de agosto de 2016
The alarm of the oven rang right when it was expect. Linda wiped her tears out of her face and turned from the window to the oven. With her oven mints on, she took out a pretty big glass container in which a very thick lasagna was still bubbling in. The cheese had melted beautifully and the top was golden and just perfect. Through the glass, it was easy to see that the lasagna was made of several layers of vegetables and grinded beef and cheese. Linda was very proud of herself as she put the container on a wooden surface in order to let it cool down a bit while she served the rest of the dinner.
Her husband entered the kitchen in silence. It was very obvious he didn’t know what to say. She didn’t really wanted to speak so she focused her attention on two medium sized plates, where she served a copious amount of salad made of a variety of green leaves, tomatoes, olives, cheese cubes and other small elements. She put the two plates on the table in front of the kitchen and her husband sat down immediately, without saying a word. He didn’t started eating or anything, he just waited there, turning around to see through the window every five seconds, as if he was afraid someone would appear out of nowhere to steal his food or something.
Linda also turned around a lot while cooking, but she seemed to be better at ignoring whatever it was they were ignoring. She then started cutting the lasagna into pieces, placing two big squares on each of their plates. She put those two plates on the table too and then paused for a moment, to think what else she was supposed to do. It was her husband who stood up and ran towards a cabinet to take out a bottle of wine some friend of theirs had given them several months ago, after said person had returned from a trip to France.
Linda remembered the bread. She took out of the cupboard, sliced some pieces and grated a lot of garlic into each piece. Then she put the bread in the microwave, as doing it in the oven would take much too long and she was seriously hungry now. Her husband Matt poured the wine into two glasses and put them on the table with the bottle, in case they wanted to have a bit more with their food.
The sound of the microwave cooking the bread was the only thing they heard for a while. Matt sat down again, looking very tense. Linda looked at the floor as she waited for the sound. She just looked at a very small ant that was crossing the floor and she the imagined the life of that ant, all that that it had done in its short life. The microwave’s ring brought her out of her imagination. Linda put down the bread on the table, which smelled delicious, and finally sat down in front of her husband. They finally looked at each other.
Both of their reactions were to cry. But they didn’t do it loudly or anything, they just had tears coming down their faces like a small river pouring out of their eyes. Their nose got congested and then each one of them had to stand up and run to the nearest bathroom to get some toilet paper. Once there, they just hugged. They hadn’t done that in a long time but it felt really good to finally do it, to finally feel they were together in this and that nothing could change that. They held hands and tried to tell each other how they felt but words seemed to be lacking power in those moments. Words were not important anymore.
They went back to the table and decided to eat as if it was a normal dinner, although this one was much earlier. Outside, the sun was bright and even some birds sang. There was not a soul in sight but that was very understandable. Around there, only Linda and Matt had stayed behind in order to have one last beautiful romantic dinner and they did try to make it very nice and delicious. Actually, the first thing that Matt said when they came back from the bathroom was that it all smelled delicious and it definitely did.
The first course was the salad. It had every single vegetable that they had left so there were pieces of onion, carrots, pepper, cucumber and several others of which there were only small pieces in the fridge. Linda had grabbed all those pieces and had cut them and put them together on a big bowl. She then had put on them some salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil to make it taste even better. Matt said it was the best salad he had ever eaten and maybe he was being honest because in all the years Linda had known him, he had never eaten a salad, not even a piece of tomato.
As they ate, they remained in silence but it was Matt, uncomfortably clearing his voice, who asked Linda if she liked fruit in her salads. She thought it was a very strange question but the moment that they were living was much too weird and particular to ignore any questions. So she thought of her answer for a moment and then told her husband that she had eaten some salad with fruits on it and that she had liked them but that not all combinations worked. For example, she liked a Moroccan one that came with couscous and raisins, which were basically sweet as fruit, and she had loved that. But in a wedding when she was young, she was served a salad containing lettuce and other such common things on a salad but with strawberries, mango and apple. She almost vomited that salad.
Matt laughed hard at her anecdote, as he hated salads with fruits on it too. So, while they ate their salads, they discussed how disgusting it was too find something too sweet on a plate that wasn’t supposed to be sweet. The ambiance got much more relaxed.
Then came the lasagna and they were surprised to realize that they were very hungry. The two pieces Linda ad put on each plate were just the beginning for each one of them as they cut and served even more pieces as their conversation changed subjects once and again. They talked about Italy too and how its food was probably the best in the world. Then they chatted about spicy foods and how spicy they liked their food, if they actually like to feel that burn in their mouths.
As they ate their pieces of lasagna, the couple became more like the people they had used to be all those years ago when they had first started dating. They were deeply in love but also very interested in each other, so much so that they had every single kind of question to make to the other person. It was so much like that that they switched their conversation from food to their teenage years. Matt wanted to know how young Linda was the first time she kissed a boy and she surprised him by saying that the first person she had kissed had actually been a girl in her class when she was around nine or ten years old. She explained that they were really good friends and that it had seemed natural at the moment. No one ever knew about it until then.
Matt was surprised and even toasted to that anecdote as he found it very cute. He told his wife that his first kiss with a boy had happened very late in life, in college. She was amazed to know that because she had met him in college but he explained it had been in the first few years in a party. He never saw the guy again because he retired or something but he had kissed him out of a drunken stupor.
Linda also toasted to that, happy to know more about her husband, even if at that moment that knowledge was going to be useless. They finished the lasagna and decided not to clean the dishes and, instead, they took the bottle of wine and one of champagne to the second floor of the house, where they had a nice little deck overlooking the street and the sunset. They drank the whole bottle of wine as they talked and talked and by the time they opened the champagne, they were able to hear a far away alarm.
Then, they saw it in the sky, as night had fallen. It could be seen clear and so close, much closer than they had thought it would be. They poured they champagne into their glasses and toasted to their life together and their love, just as the ball of fire passed above them making a very loud sound. They drank the whole glass and then kiss passionately for the first time in a very long while. The ball of fire touched down several kilometers to the south but the result of the impact was instantaneous: an very violent earthquake, a cloud of smoke and dirt and then, nothing.
lunes, 13 de julio de 2015
Just before the quake, all the horses left the fields. The Winston’s employees had left them put to pasture but they had no idea of knowing they would behave so strangely right before and after the quake. They never came back and only a couple could be retrieved from other farms. People were too busy attending to the wounded to worry about some horses. The family had not had any casualties but their offices in the city had been destroyed and that was devastating enough. They lived on their bank and their bank was now destroyed. They had data and other offices but it would take time to put everything in order again. Everything was in chaos though, and what remained of the building had been looted once and again.
Jonathan and Peter, father and son, had decided to leave for the city immediately, in order to focus on the retrieval of data from their other offices in order to rebuild. So they left Regina and Vivian, mother and daughter, alone with their staff. Only the lifetime gardener and one maid had stayed with them. The rest had, comprehensibly, left their jobs to be with their families. Every single family had at least one casualty so people were just gathering and looking to be together, not to split or fight because someone had been lost. The air was also contaminated with this worry, this sentiment of grief and death. Many said that the city, once a thriving metropolis, was now an enormous graveyard and that all efforts should be concentrated on that, because they needed to go back to normal and that was impossible with that feeling in the air.
The two women waited for days and later weeks. But Jonathan and Peter wouldn’t come back. The last time they had heard of them, they had said that it was better for them to go to their offices in Hong Kong, where all back up was stored in order to put everything back into place but the women had not heard anything from Hong Kong either. They had called them there and the people at the office assured them that no one had come from the main offices to retrieve anything. Regina just asked them to call if they ever knew anything but they never did because her husband and her son would never go there. She was alone with Vivian and they spent the days, wondering and pacing.
Finally, on one rainy day almost a full month after the quake, a man from the police came t tell them the bad news. Apparently Jonathan and Peter had been caught up in a skirmish of victims against security forces. The first ones were complaining because of the poor medical attention that was being paid to the people. It was obvious many officials and firemen were used to help the rich get their things back, so the mobs went for everyone. Father and son were there when it all started and they were two of first victims, only identifies until recently. Regina fainted as was helped by the policeman and Vivian went very white and just couldn’t say a word.
Now, the two women were all alone. They had lived like queens but now their reign was over and they had to face the truth. With the bank collapsing as it was, with former friends becoming their enemies, money started to run out. The house couldn’t stay perfect, as it had always been, forever. So they had to take the difficult decision to sell it, and use part of the money to buy a country house, way smaller than their mansion, in a town nearby. The gardener and the maid had to go too and the day they left, it was the first and only day that the women treated them like family. Finally, one day in autumn, the two women took all that they had not sold with the house, and left their manor forever. Neither of them looked back not even for a final glance at the grand house.
Regina still hoped they could get some of the money back, or at least keep one of their many business. But when people heard they had been left with nothing, they started to pull off from every single business they had ever established. It all went to hell and the women finally realized they had never had any friends but just people that saw them as a trampoline to make their own lives better. They didn’t resent them however, because Regina knew very well that was what her husband had done with many of them too. They were just paying them with the same currency and she couldn’t blame them for that, even at sight of their awful prospects in a house that had nothing on the manor.
It wasn’t the poorest house in the world as they had two floors, a kitchen, two bathrooms and a small patch to grow vegetables. But that was not how they felt. Fortunate would not have been a word either of them would choose to describe their situation. Vivian was especially sensitive, as she had been courted by a very handsome and rich man just weeks before the tragedy. And now, of course, he had disappeared in thin air and she knew she would never again have such an opportunity to make her life better. Now, no man with prospects would ever look at her and she would be condemned to marry some nobody or to stay alone and bitter.
But they couldn’t just mourn and complain. Because the money they had saved would run out soon if they didn’t find a way to get things in order. So Regina decided to start growing several types of vegetables in the garden and asked Vivian to go around town and look for a proper job, something decent but with a handsome pay. Vivian complied but that was an impossible task to fulfill. There was no work as many had left to the city to rebuild. She walked all over town until she got to a bar and realized they were looking for a new waitress. She knew that it wasn’t a great job or a well paying one but it was the only thing she could find. Besides, she could really use a drink or two.
When Vivian told her mother, Regina wasn’t happy but she wasn’t sad either. She just sighed and realized that life is not what would like it to be and that we just have to do what it’s necessary to keep on moving. She started growing her veggies and in a short time she started selling them to the shops in town. People recognized her and most shut their door on her face, when they knew it was because her and her husband that many of them had lost their life savings. That it was their home, their cursed manor, and the one that had caused all of their misery along the years. No one wanted to help the woman that had been there and did nothing and she felt miserable because they weren’t wrong at all.
Tired and with her feet hurting, she tried one last house and when they opened she realized whose house it was. Because it was her former maid Rosie the one that had opened the door. She didn’t know what to say and was about to run away but Rosie grabbed her hand and made her come in. Regina didn’t know Rosie had a convenience store in her home, were she sold flour, sugar, rice and many other things. She sold vegetables two and, without any further talking, she decided to buy the vegetables Regina had brought with her. The former rich woman could not believe her ears and she was even more surprised when Rosie told her they would need veggies very often as many people in town were being hosts of their city relatives who had lost it all.
The two women signed a contract and, before parting, Regina hugged Rosie. She told her that she did not understood why she was so kind with her after all those years together but she thanked her with all of her soul. Rosie just answered that she had been a nice person to her and that it wasn’t in her heart to let someone starve simply out of spite. Besides, she had never invested in Jonathan’s bank, so she hadn’t lost any money. Regina laughed at that and discovered on the way home that it was the first time in many months that she laughed. The only people that could do that were her family and now she only had Vivian.
They had never had the best mother-daughter relationship, but now someone could have confused them with sisters or best friends. Vivian would tell her mother everything she had seen or heard at the bar and Regina would tell her daughter about all the anecdotes and jokes she learned with Rosie when working with her, because Rosie had also realized that, in their mutual benefit, they needed a larger patch of dirt to grow the goods, so she was helping Regina to make that a reality. Vivian was doing great at work and was respected and adored by her employer, an old man that had seen more of life than he wanted and realized he only needed a glass of beer in one hand and his wife Ellie in the other.
Eventually, mother and daughter lived a respectable life, full of happiness and enjoyment. They once thought their former life was the only thing that could make them happy but they realized they had only being happy when Jonathan and Peter were there. They still remembered them often and cried for them but not for long because now they had reasons to live and that’s what they were going to do. Just live.