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

miércoles, 3 de mayo de 2017

My sister's visit

   We did not expect her. There was no reason to do that, especially after we had buried her only a couple years back. When she rang, the doorbell did that strange repetition, the way it sounded back when she was alive. When our mother opened the door, she stood in front of her for a long time. Then, almost in slow motion, she fainted. I ran towards her and checked for bruises, trying to wake her up and the same time. I had neglected to look at the door and at the person standing right there.

 She came in as my mother recovered her senses and started crying for no apparent reason. I told her to relax and, as I could, I helped her to the couch, where she could be much more comfortable. Then, I realize the door was still open, so I walked towards it and closed it. When I turned around, it was as if I had a vision. I saw my father, by the window, holding my sister’s hand. He looked at her as if it was the very first time he was looking at her brown eyes and long hair.

 The vision was special, as they were both standing against what little light entered the apartment. It was raining a lot outside and we hadn’t turned on the lights inside the house. The vision was so special; that I absolutely forgot about my mother in the couch or that my sister couldn’t be there because she was dead. But it was my mother who dragged me to the real world when she asked, almost in a whisper, what my sister was doing there. Strange enough, my sister laughed.

 It was a very particular laugh. Not a loud one at all. To be honest, the sound seemed to be coming from a place much farther than the living room next to the window. I walked towards her and then I saw her body very next to mine. My response came in without intention, just from deep within my soul: I started crying profusely. Think tears ran down my face and landed on the floor making a very particular sound. I noticed my father was also crying and my mother had fallen silent.

 It was her, walking slowly from the couch to the window, who looked at my sister and asked her if she was doing fine. The question was exceedingly strange but my sister had no problem answering it. She told us she was perfect, had never been better, but that she had been granted a special permission to visit us. Apparently, after you die, you get to come back once, wherever and whenever you choose. She had decided that was the perfect time to come and visit us. We asked her why and she explained it had seem like the best moment to her.

 That answer confused me a lot but it didn’t seem to mind my parents. Their faces denoted happiness beyond anything they had felt in a long time. It was sad to realize, but I hadn’t been enough for them to be happy about. To be fair, I didn’t really bring a spark of joy into the house. My sister, on the contrary, had always been full of life and that was apparently still true, even if the statement was particularly strange at the moment. She had always been their baby girl.

 Of course, it did help that she was their first one. Her death had been very hard on everyone. She was a very young woman still and no one had ever predicted she would die so soon. It was all because of a car crash, a horrible event that lived in their memories as a scar that won’t go away. She had been the only victim of that accident, which made everything feel even more unfair and horrible that it already was. She had been pronounced dead right on the spot, before anyone could see her.

 We decided, or rather, my parents decided they wanted to have a small funeral for her. They did not want a huge amount of people to be there only to gossip and to cry like crazy when they had never really liked her or known her as they had known her. So we had a very private ceremony, a really silent one. I wanted to ask her about it but it felt wrong not to enjoy her presence instead of asking things that didn’t made a difference anymore. I decided to put the teapot on the stove.

 My parents sat down with her on the couch. They touched her hair and her hands and fondled her face.  They didn’t talk much and the only thing they said was that she was beautiful and smart and the best daughter they could ever have. Her face was very white and her expressions were a little bit… dead. It was as if her attitude reminded them that she was actually dead and she was only there for a while. But they didn’t care because it was an opportunity they never knew they had.

 They talked about the past while drinking tea. She had some and loved it, it was the only authentic expression of joy she showed. They spent a long while in silence and then my mother realized she could do something for her right there. She decided to cook my sister her favorite meal, so both of them stood up and almost ran to the kitchen. In minutes, they were pots on the fire and chopped vegetables, as well as meat cuts waiting to be put on very hot pans. It was a beautiful sight, one of warmth and happiness, never minding the storm outside.

 My father was very silent the whole time and he just looked at them while they cooked. Tears went down his face every so often, in complete silence. He was obviously beside himself to have his daughter for a while. But I knew he was asking himself the same questions I was asking: for how long was she going to stay? And, what will happen when she leaves? Remembering her visit would be a privilege but it honestly didn’t seem to be something mortals would be allowed to have.

 Some time later, I helped them serve and we had a very tasty lunch at the dining table, as we used to when we were younger. As back then, we laughed and told different stories. We also ate all of the food, which was delicious and made me realized I wasn’t dreaming or at least it didn’t seem like it. We didn’t turn on the lights for lunch and it was clear my sister didn’t care for light at all, as the sight of thunder outside made her appearance much less beautiful that minutes before.

 We continued talking, remembering the past, even after we finished the food. Mom served coffee and cookies, the ones my sister used to love. She drank it all and ate several cookies. My mother was absolutely happy and it was clear she didn’t want the day to end. It was clear none of us had veer wanted something like this to happen, but now that it had we didn’t want this beautiful dream to end. We wanted my sister, their daughter, back from where she was, forever.

 But that wasn’t possible. A few hours later, my sister asked to go to her room. My parents hadn’t changed anything there, going to the extent of closing the room since her death and never opening it again. Apparently, she wanted to have a nap, feeling exceedingly tired. We all looked at each other, knowing that it was probably the sign that indicated she had to leave very soon. We all helped her into bed and sat besides her, my mother even singing a lullaby from our childhood.

 My sister fell fast asleep in seconds. For some reason, we all started crying in silence, as we realized that her body had disappeared in the glimpse of an eye. She wasn’t there anymore, we couldn’t feel her anymore and it was horribly devastating.

 It was in that moment, when I felt that pain in my heart, when I woke up from that dream. The first thing I felt, beside my heart in pain, was a single tear running down my face and landing on my pillow. I almost couldn’t breath, as I had seen her one more time.

miércoles, 1 de julio de 2015

Cruise ship

   The Excelsior was a marvelous machine. It was one of the biggest boats in the business and would carry passengers all over the globe. Each summer, the ship would do a completely different schedule: sometimes it would be sent to the Caribbean, some other times it would be sent to a very unique trip to Alaska or even Antarctica. Captain Jones had been at the helm since the ship had been operating and he never liked to be too far away from it. He was an older man now, with grown children and no wife so he could actually just live for his boat. Every morning he would do a tour of the ship, check every single section and even ask some of the passengers for suggestions, complains and any other issue they would like to communicate. He was always listening.

 The latest trip of the Excelsior had been through the Pacific, linking the US with Hawaii and then on to Japan. It was a very long trip and everyone in the crew was happy the journey was over. They could all go back home and be with their families but Jones remained in Tokyo, very close to the place were the Excelsior was under maintenance. Even in those days, he would go to the harbor and look at the ship for at least an hour. It was as if the cruise ship was his baby and he needed to know where it was and how it was doing every single second of the day. He didn’t do much else in Tokyo. His children had encouraged him, over the phone, to visit as many places as he could and to try new kinds of food but every ounce of adventure Jones had in his body was only related to the sea.

 When he was told that the ship’s maintenance would last more than scheduled, he got very worried and insisted on talking to the chief of the team that was doing the repairs. The man accepted to talk to him because he saw how much he cared about the ship and realized it was best if he knew. The boat’s engines had to be repaired as they appeared to be over strained by so many journeys. The hull also had to be reinforced due to the many voyages the ship had taken to cold waters were there was ice. The captain asked what he feared most: how long would it all take. The chief of the repairs told him that at least a year, if they were really fast.

The company then intervened and asked Jones to join other liners. He wouldn’t be captain in the next journey but they would try to find something for him to administrate as well as he had done with the Excelsior. But he was adamant that his job was to be a captain and that his ship was the one docked in Japan. They tried to convince him to take another ship but it was almost impossible. So the solution they found was to propose to him to take his vacations and come back when the ship was ready. Jones had not gone into a vacation for several years and being sixty-two years old, he knew there was not much more time to be a captain. So he accepted the vacations and demanded from the company to be notified about the Excelsior’s progress.

 Once he realized he was free to do whatever he wanted, he realized he had no idea about being free from duty. He had always being such a dedicated person but only regarding his job. There was nothing else he actually did that well and he needed a distraction for at least a year. He tried to get a job in another cruise line company but apparently they all knew about the Excelsior and about his love for the ship. And they were right; he wasn’t going to be at the helm of any other liner until his ship was out of repairs. He even tried getting into fishing companies but it wasn’t the same.

 He finally realized he had to take the vacation period seriously and decided to call one of his sons and ask him if he could stay with him for a couple of months. At first, his son was reluctant, telling him he had to ask his wife and children and that the house they lived in was too small. Jones knew for a fact that wasn’t true as his son was a lawyer for a large company and made tons of money, enough for a large house where his own father could spent a couple of months as he waited for his big baby to be ready. Some days later, his son called him back and told him he could come right away. Jones bought a ticket to Germany and went there immediately. During the plane trip to his son’s home, he realized he hadn’t ben in an airplane for several years.

 His son Robert picked him up at the airport and did a nice job welcoming his father into his house. They had prepared fruit punch and the children were all hugs and questions about Jones’s trips around the world. That first night, they went to bed late because of him. The following days were not as nice as that evening as the children were at school, Robert in his office and his wife would come and go many times during the day, despite not having an actual job. For a time, Jones thought the women was having an affair but he soon realized the real thing happening was alcohol. The woman reeked of it.

 The children’s interest started to decrease as their grandpa was seen more as an invader than as a nice guest. As he was always there, they were no longer interested in him. So Jones decided to take longs walks, at exactly the same time his son’s wife decide to take her alcohol fueled lunches with her girlfriends. He walked many kilometers in a day, checking out the stores in the way and the architecture. But he felt a little bit choked. He tried to sit down to get some air but that wasn’t it. After some more walks, he realized his body missed the ocean and its air. The city were his son lived was inland and there was not even a lake to go to. And the truth was that Jones felt alone everyday, as he had never felt before.

 So he decided, after only one month, to call his daughter Julie that happened to live in Panama as an artist. That country was surrounded by water and there was the canal where he could see large ships, something he loved. He had being then in his journeys many times but he had never touched the land. So he announced his decision and told the family he would leave them in a couple of days. They didn’t say much but it was obvious they were not very sad about his departure. They didn’t even take him to the airport and it was then when he realized he had never been close to his son. It wasn’t because of him that he was who he was. But that was ok. Jones didn’t want to ruin the last years of his life only to be liked as if he was a twelve year old. He just packed and moved on to the next adventure, as he always did.

  When he got to Panama, his daughter greeted him with a nice dinner and lots of kisses and laughs. She had always been a cheerful girl and had always been close to him, being the only one that called him at all during his journeys. It wasn’t something often but he loved when she did. She had married a photographer but then divorced him because he cheated on her so much. During dinner, he told her father that she had found out about so many women and some men that it had become unbearable. So she divorced and decided to pursue her passion of sculpting and she was doing very well for herself, doing works for many prestigious clients are the world.

 Jones stayed there for about four months. He loved the weather, which was very humid and very hot. He loved to walk around even if the city wasn’t made for it and, mostly, he loved to see the boats making line to enter the canal. His favorite thing was to go to one of the locks of the canal and check out every single boat that passed through. That easily became his favorite pastime and the people that worked there grow accustomed to his presence. He just wanted to be in a boat soon and the next best thing was to be there, watching every single one of them that passed through the country. It was kind of sad but he knew he had to be patient and just wait for the time he would be able to go back to Japan.

 One day, he thought about visiting his third child. His son Marco lived in New York and they hadn’t talked in several years. That was because his son had left home after high school due to Jones’s stubbornness. But it was right then when the company called and they told Jones the Excelsior was much worse than they had anticipated. The ship had not being properly repaired in the past and now it was beyond anything they could do. They would only lose money if they keep up the work so it had been decided it was going to be decommissioned. Jones was speechless and did not say a word for the next full day.

The following day he bought a ticket to Japan and told his daughter he was leaving to say goodbye to his ship but then they got into a fight because Julie thought the best thing to do was for him to go to New York and make amends with Marco. But his father was, once again, stubborn and putting his job first, as he had always did. She decided to let him do what he wanted and took him to the airport where they bid farewell. Jones thought about his daughter’s remarks but his life, and he was honest about this, had never been his family but that damn ship. That was the awful truth.

sábado, 1 de noviembre de 2014

The woods

No one dared take the road through the woods. Although much shorter than the others, people tried to avoid it if possible. It had been built almost a century ago but it was only widely used for a couple of years before the wood grew darker and thicker and much more dangerous.

So an alternative road, by the side of the mountain, was built to avoid the forest. That road had a lot of curves, cliffs, and almost doubled the other one in length. It wasn't uncommon that, on a harsh winter or on rainy days, the door got blocked by mud and rocks falling from the mountain. The two towns would then be disconnected and all trade or travels between the two had to be postponed.

On one of those bad days, Sammy, a young woman looking forward visiting her family in the other town, got with her car to the mountain road but soon realized it had been blocked by big boulders. She went back home and , sadly, sat by the television set and thought of her family.

It was going to be a surprise visit but now it couldn't be done. Although... She went to her studio and grabbed a map of the region. The map marked the mountain road as a primary road. Meanwhile, the one in the woods had only a few segments drawn as people had no idea of its current state.

Sammy knew the road wasn't good for cars, only for small vehicles, motorcycles or pedestrians. But none dared enter the woods. What she noticed was that if she got out in the middle of the day, she could get across the woods in less than 3 hours. The journey normally took seven hours and that was not an option now.

So the next day she decided to dress properly for a hard walk and got to the point where the woods started. It wasn't strange no one was around as she begin, walking by the old road, covered in dead leaves and puddles of mud.

With her she only had a backpack with clothes and food, her cellphone and the map folded inside. That was it. She wore hiking boots and a thick jacket and thermal pants. It had stopped raining in the morning but she knew she had to walk fast in order to get there soon.

The first hour was incredible easy. The road was plain and almost no rocks or trees where lying across it. She could almost imagine the old carriages and horses going through the woods.
However, the place was really creepy. She knew it was around midday, but the son could almost not be seen. The foliage was thick and the trees had grown in all sorts of shapes. Almost no flowers grew there and she heard no animals in the vicinity.

When half of the walking was done, she realized the road ended and two different paths began from there. At that point she got her map out and spread it on the ground. It was hard to make a choice but she thought the best option was the clearer path, the one in the left. The map seemed to confirm it. So she began to walk again.

After just a half hour, she was walking through trees. The path had finished a few steps ago and now she only saw thin trees with big treetops. She felt lost but knew that the only option was walking in a straight line. The forest had to end at some point and it was likely the town was not far from there.

But when she started walking a cracking sound stopped her. She gazed around but so nothing. As she but one foot in front of the other, the cracking sound came back. And again and again. So she turned around.

Nothing. She decided to walk faster. After a few minutes she arrived in a clearing and there was a cottage there, the kind a lumberjack makes. Now Sammy was petrified. No one had gone to the woods in almost a hundred years so why was there a house in the middle of it?

She was very curious about it but decided not to investigate further. She continued to walk but now she heard as if someone tap a window. She turned and so no one there.

Now she was almost running. Sammy was not an athlete so her feet where killing her already but she knew she had no time to waste.

After a while, the trees began to feel more and more separated and she could see the sun, pale and cold but bright enough to make her feel safe. She decided the town could not be very far so she walked with a smile towards the edge of the forest but then rain started falling. As if someone was pouring buckets and buckets of it.

Then the cracking sound again and, in the middle of the downpour, Sammy felt someone touched her shoulder. She screamed and ran for her life. She only stopped when she felt the day had gotten brighter.

She removed the hoodie of her jacket and realized the rain had stopped and that she had arrived at her destination. She could see the tree line. Sammy was on a hill and from there one could see the town. She smiled but then she heard a laugh and turned instinctively.

There, by the nearest tree, there was a small boy. He only smiled and waved at her. And Sammy waved at him. He turned his back to her and she did the same and each one parted.

Sammy got to her family's house but did not share the story with them. She invented some lie and kept the strange smile of the kid in the woods for herself.