martes, 3 de febrero de 2015

We danced

   And we just danced. We did it all night long and all over the gardens. It was funny to practice this way, in a real palace, with someone who could understand how awful I was at it. The movie required me to dance with a beautiful princess for a few minutes (seconds in the movie) and I really wanted to nail it. So they brought someone to help us and there he was. It was ridiculous to have known him for so many years and, at the same time, having no idea who he really was.

 Our dance teacher was Alexander Frost. I had seen him for the first time the day I arrived at high school. The thing was that that place was my third high school. Because of my parents work I had to go from here to there. But this was the one where I would do my last two years and then it would be off to college, wherever that might be. I saw Alex that first day but didn’t thought anything of him. Not once, during those two years, did I really speak to him. Maybe greet him in the hall if I happened to be late for class or in the bathroom but that was it.

 And now, here he was. I’m afraid I never cared about my fellow classmates in high school. It was clear for me that the friends I had made there were only temporary. I didn’t want anything to do with them after finishing the time I had to spend there. This may seem like a hash thing to say but I was just fed up with all the moving and changing. College would be another change and, for me at least, it would be my real ticket into having friends and so on. I just had to jump those last hurdles to get there.

 Besides, and I should have said this before, people in my high school were not precisely interesting nor the nicest. I know my parents tried to do their best so they put me in the best school they could think of. Academically speaking, it certainly was. I learned a lot more than many others did at that age but, nevertheless, school is not only for learning. School is supposed to be the place where you make those first social connections and when you get into society as such. Well, I didn’t.

 When I got to college, I was the happiest person in the world. Also very frightened and shy but happy nonetheless. I wanted to make it big in life so I took my film studies pretty seriously. I worked hard and did everything that was asked from me and even more. Of course, I created my first social links here and it was a lot easier than in school, where everything seemed so convenient and mandatory. Not in college. There, I felt I could be anyone and no one would mind and some would even like me that way.

 So when I first so Alex on set, I felt myself going back to school. I cannot lie: it felt like being stabbed and bleeding profusely for hours. I know how it sounds but I hated high school. I hated it. I felt like a mouse constantly trying to survive, running around, feeling a thousand eyes on me and then none at the same time. I felt scared and hopeless every single day there. And that was the same thing I felt when Alex came on set: insecurity and anxiety.

 We had been rehearsing for hours that day and I think, because I was tired, I did not properly realize what had happened. So that night I slept like a baby and didn’t even think of the whole thing. But next morning, it was like being back in high school. I’m not proud to say that I had to vomit early in the morning. It was lucky that I hadn’t had that much to eat. I brushed my teeth and got on set smiling and trying to be the same that the day before but that was clearly impossible.

 Mistake after mistake, the director would correct me. He’s such a great person but even I knew I was sucking hard. I was awful every single and he got tired. He told all of us that instead of rehearsal we would have our first dance lesson. My co-star, Veronica, was a very experienced dancer. She had worked in theater for a long time so she knew her way around the dance floor. But me, I had no idea. And it was then when the director brought Alex in and, shame on me, I laughed.

 It has to be one of the most awkward moments of my life. I didn’t laugh for hours or anything, it was just one laugh and then closing my mouth and noticing how everyone was looking at me as if I had killed someone right there. Then I greeted Alex and we just went on with the lesson. He said it was better if I danced with him first and then Veronica. So that day she left early and we were left alone to practice like mad. Soon, I forgot everything about high school and the weird moment that had occurred before. I wanted to be good, great even, in this movie so I really focused on getting it right.

 This went on for two more weeks. Meanwhile, we would shoot other scenes in other places. We traveled to Vienna for the filming and it was so beautiful we all felt we had already won several awards. After a particular difficult morning of filming, the director decided we could have the afternoon of. We would begin again the next morning but then Alex appeared, out of nowhere, and told me I had to practice hard as the next day would be the shooting of the dance scene.

 Surprisingly, he told Veronica to go and rest. I had already danced with her a couple of times by then and I thought it was very odd not to practice with her for the last time. I danced with Alex in a room they lend us at the palace where the filming was taking place and it was just amazing. I almost felt myself float and Alex told me I was doing a great job. We also went outside, to the gardens, and danced there, as another scene would take place down there. The place was really quiet and we only stopped when a security guard came to see what was going on.

 The next day, I rocked the dancing scene. We did it again a few times and Veronica hugged me hard when we finished. She was thrilled that the scene had gone so smoothly. We watched it a couple of times on a small screen and everything looked great: the lights, the costumes, the production design and, of course, our dancing. We went back home a couple of days later, having wrapped up the movie. I knew it would be a great piece one they had it finished and I looked forward the premiere.

 Back at my house, I was surprised to see that Alex had sent me a box containing a big bar of chocolate, raisins covered in chocolate, a video game and a paper that happened to be a printed email in which a restaurant confirmed a reservation in his name. He had highlighted the name of the place, the address and the time. So naturally, I was confused. A guy was practically asking me out. But that wasn’t really the problem. The thing was that bar of chocolate had always being my favorite, I loved raisins covered with chocolate and the video game was one I had always wanted but never had.

 I went to the restaurant, trying not to look like I had tried too hard with my clothes. He was already there so we sat down and ordered and then started talking about the movie, the dancing, exchanging data for future work opportunities and, finally, his gift box. Then, as we were having our main courses, he looked at me and I noticed his eyes were watery and his skin was a bit red. He doubted of his words but finally asked me if I knew who he was.

 It was funny because I realized then that I had never told him anything about high school. We just got the lessons going and that was it. We hadn’t said a word about the past and now he was asking about it. So I answered:

-               - Of course I know.
-               - Why didn’t you say something? – He said, almost scolding me.
         It happened so long ago. I don’t like to remember those days.

 Then he shed a tear and, before I could ask anything else, he changed the subject and came back to his old self from the movie set. We had a nice dinner and he even took me home. Just as I had opened my door, my cellphone started ringing in my coat pocket. It wasn’t an incoming call but and SMS. I almost dropped it when I read it. It was from Alex.

-            -  I have loved you for all these years. Sorry. Have a nice sleep.

lunes, 2 de febrero de 2015


   Su nombre era Ágata. Era una gata bastante peluda, con ojos grandes y de un amarillo penetrante. Sin embargo, era imposible no verla en donde estuviera. Atraía las miradas con su hermoso semblante y aparente elegancia. Se estiraba suavemente en cualquier superficie placentera que encontrara y casi siempre dormía plácidamente, obviamente sin ninguna preocupación en el mundo.

 La hermosa gata era propiedad de Yrina, la famosa supermodelo rusa. La mujer viajaba por todos lados pero nunca olvidaba a su inseparable amiga felina. Ágata había sido un regalo de un novio que la mujer había tenido pero el amor terminó pronto y lo único que le quedó a Yrina fue la gata. Eso sí, todo ocurrió un año antes de que se volviera famosa y ahora la modelo reía sola al pensar en lo arrepentido que estaría el idiota que le había dado a la gata. Seguramente estaría golpeándose contra una pared.

 Ágata sabía de esto ya que, de vez en cuando, Yrina reía macabramente cuando le acariciaba su pelo. Vagamente recordaba al hombre que le había regalado y entendía que todavía tenía un efecto particular en su dueña. También la había visto llorar cuando la relación se había terminado y la había visto pasar por muchas cosas más, así que no sabía de en verdad ese chico se arrepentiría o si, más bien, se sentiría aliviado.

 Siendo una gata, era ciertamente difícil juzgar a los seres humanos. Eran criaturas para ella interesantes pero muy complicadas. A pesar de lo que oía alrededor, sobre todo de quienes venían a maquillar o peinar a su ama, las hembras y los machos de la especie humana eran iguales en todo sentido, incluida su ingenuidad, cinismo y tontería. Podían ser muy inteligentes y muy estúpidos y se preocupaban por cosas que ella no entendía. En esas ocasiones, prefería recostarse por ahí y dormir una buena siesta.

 No podía negar, nunca, que Yrina era una buena humana con ella y, al fin y al cabo, eso era lo que contaba. La peinaba en sus ratos libres y, lo había notado desde el comienzo, Yrina era otra persona cuando estaban solas. Solía comer comida más apetitosa que las comidas raras que muchas veces le hacían comer y veía mucha televisión. Claro que Ágata no entendía nada de lo que decía o mostraba ese aparato, pero casi siempre su ama la ponía en su regazo y la acariciaba mientras veía alguna película. Era realmente relajante.

 Diametralmente eran los días de trabajo. Yrina casi nunca la tocaba, a menos que fuera para quitarla de un sitio donde no debía estar. Parecía que no supiera que los gatos no pueden quedarse siempre en un mismo sitio.  Los gatos necesitan moverse, explorar, cazar y jugar un poco. Pero cuando decenas de otros seres humanos estaban alrededor, esto se volvía imposible. Ágata prefería dormir antes que ser acariciada por algún desconocido.

   Más de una vez había rasguñado a alguien con sus garras, que siempre eran cortas, porque odiaba a los desconocidos. Era insoportable que se acercaran haciendo ruidos idiotas y acariciando mal, a veces frotando mucho, como si estuvieran acariciando a un oso polar. Pero cuando rasguñaba, mejor dicho cuando se defendía, Yrina se enojaba bastante y la regañaba. Esto era insoportable, no solo por el factor de la comida, sino porque Yrina el único ser humano que Ágata soportaba y era como ser rechazado por un buen amigo.

  Además, estaba lo extraño. A veces cuando estaban solas, Yrina se comportaba de una manera muy extraña. Tenía días en los que fumaba bastante, tanto que parecía a uno de esos coches viejos que todavía andan por ahí. Además, se encerraba en el baño por horas y, muchas veces, Ágata la esperaba afuera y arañaba la puerta pero jamás conseguía respuesta. Ni un regaño, ni un grito, ni una afirmación. Nada.

 Podía ser un gato, pero Ágata sabía que algo no iba bien, unos tres años después de haber sido regalada a su ama. Nunca había sido un ser humano particularmente jovial pero ahora parecía que no sonreía nunca y, Ágata pensó, que se veía cada vez más fea. No era buena jueza de la belleza humana pero siempre había pensado que Yrina era bastante agradable a la vista.

 Ya no era así. A veces, cuando dejaban de viajar y regresaban al apartamento que compartían. Ágata se quedaba mirando a su ama mientras dormía, cuando dormía. Parecía verse más pequeña, como reducida por un dolor o por algo que ella no pudiera controlar. Además su pelo, que siempre había sido bello (aunque Ágata pensaba que los gatos les ganaban a los humanos en esto), parecía menos vivo, más opaco y triste. Lo mismo sus dientes. La hermosa sonrisa con la que tantas veces había saludado a la felina, ya no existía.

 Sin embargo, el trabajo por esa época parecía haber aumentado. Yrina lucía cada vez peor pero tenía más trabajo. Ágata agradecía que la llevara a todos los sitios a los que iba, así fuera a países lejanos. No era muy alegre viajar en un avión que solo hacía ruido y en el que se podía casi mover, pero la recompensa era ver a su ama feliz, o al  menos fingir felicidad. No sabía nunca cuando era una cosa o la otra pero, Ágata pensaba, al menos parece intentarlo.

 Pasó otro año, de viajes y mucho trabajo, y Ágata empezó a notar algo más. El apartamento que por tanto tiempo había sido para ellas solas se convirtió en un centro de eventos. Casi no pasaban dos días antes de que decenas de seres humanos, todos descuidados, llegaran y dejaran el sitio hecho un desastre. Incluso el cojín favorito de Ágata era movido de un lado al otro, como si fuera alguna diversión enfermiza.

 La gente que venía se parecía a la nueva Yrina. No eran mujeres particularmente bellas ni hombres naturales sino gente que parecía haber salido de uno de los programas que la gata veía que su ama veía en la tele hacía mucho. La mayoría de los humanos iban demasiado arreglados y, a juicio de Ágata, se veían ridículos. Era cierto que nunca había entendido el concepto de la ropa, pero incluso ella podía ver que no era lo apropiado, el modo de vestir de esas personas.

 Además, nunca había visto a ninguno de esos humanos. Ni en la casa, ni en ninguno de los trabajos pasados de la modelo. Y Ágata se preciaba de tener una buena memoria. Que hacían entonces toda esa gente en el apartamento y porque tan seguido? Todos bebían líquidos que olían horrible y sabían peor (era imposible ignorar las manchas por todos lados) y, curiosamente, no había un solo plato de comida en toda la casa.

 Lo único que ágata siempre encontraba gracias a Lupe, una mujer que venía de vez en cuando, era su comida y un plato lleno de agua en un rincón que era solo para ella. Incluso los invitados de las fiestas nunca entraban allí. Aunque había habido una vez, en la que había encontrado a dos seres humanos allí pero el calor era tal que había salido corriendo al instante. Odiaba el calor.

 Y así siguieron las cosas, por meses y meses hasta que un día se quedaron las dos solas de nuevo. Ágata, apenas se despertó, corrió al cuarto de Yrina para despertarla con su ronroneo pero no había nadie en la cama. Seguramente, pensó la gata, estará en el baño. En efecto, la puerta estaba entreabierta y, con dificultad, Ágata pudo entrar. Su ama estaba tendida en el piso y tenía una bolsita al lado llena de algo que no pude saber que era.

 Cuando Lupe llegó, Ágata la atrajo hasta el baño y allí cambió todo. No solo fueron los gritos de Lupe ni que la llevaran a un hogar para animales. Era también el hecho de que, al final, mientras Lupe corría gritando por todos lados, Ágata se acerco a su ama y la olió. Entonces entendió que su vida iba a cambiar porque su ama ya no estaba. No se preguntó que sería de ella sino que pensó: “Que pasó con mi ama, con Yrina?”.

domingo, 1 de febrero de 2015


    It felt stupid, just waiting there as if I had nothing better to do. Besides the person that had to give me the documents was late so if the job seemed easy at one point, had now became annoying beyond imagination. I had drunk a cup of coffee and was tempted to leave after waiting for fifteen minutes. Just then, a man in a white coat arrived. It was impossible to miss her: her coat was made of fur, fluffy and beautiful and, beneath it; she wore a red dress with a deep cleavage.

 What kind of agent was this? I had never seen someone so obvious! Or maybe it was her technique, to look completely out of place in that park. She waved her hand at me and I just nodded. She sat down next to me and opened her purse. Silly me, I thought she was going to extract the papers from there but I was wrong. She grabbed a lipstick and a small mirror and began a routine she must have done twenty times a day, at least. When she was done, she put her things inside the purse and looked at me.

-       Girl’s got to be ready at all times.

 I stared at her, confused. I was sure she was the one I had to talk too but she didn’t seem to know what she had to do.

 I cleared my voice and asked, looking at a family pass by:

-       Do you…
-       I’m hungry. I haven’t had one rice for hour. That plane food… I don’t know how someone eats that. I couldn’t afford first class this time so I was under deep stress for all those hours. You know those flights.

 She clearly thought she was making sense. Or it may have been the fact that she was a very good actress because I had no idea what she was talking about. She glanced around, apparently looking for something.

-       There must be a nice restaurant in this area… Town Hall is just across the street, right?
-       Yeah…

 I stood up and offered to take her to lunch. She was thrilled by the prospect of eating and didn’t shut up in the long walk to a restaurant. Seoul was a beautiful city and I wanted to see it just as much as her but I considered myself on duty. The thing was Agent Volnal appeared to have a very different attitude towards her duties. She pointed and practically screamed at everything she thought was odd or peculiar. Being a little obvious wasn’t bad but this was a bit too much.

 We finally got to a nice little restaurant. They seem to serve every traditional dish but also other popular Asian foods like sushi or fired rice. Ms. Volnal took her coat off when seating at a table by the wall and I noticed how physical she was. What I mean is she looked like a person who goes to the gym pretty often.

-       Ms.…
-       Mirna. – She said, barely moving her lips or her eyes from the menu.

 There was a long silence in which both of us decided what to order. I wasn’t feeling too hungry myself but I preferred to go along. This was too strange to leave it at that and, most importantly, people were expecting me to have important documents by nightfall.

-       I think I might have the sashimi. I love fish.
-       Good.
-       What are you having? Maybe we can order like many small things and then share. What do you think?
-       Sure, sounds fun.

 It didn’t sound fun because time was scarce and I had been advised not to stroll for too long away from the hotel or the airport. No one wanted me to be caught by the enemy or by some foreign police. But I needed the documents and I was sure she had them.

-       We would like a sashimi plate, and some kimchi and the “kaboom” sushi you list here. And…Let’s see… What else you want honey?

 For a moment, I was too shocked by the fact she had called me honey. But then I recuperated and ordered two more plates of traditional meat and vegetables. She looked around the restaurant, admiring every single piece of the décor. I, for one, was starting to get worried. Even if we decided to eat fast, which I wouldn’t bet on, nightfall would catch us there, in a small restaurant in downtown Seoul. I had to have the info fast in order to travel early the next day.

-       Have you ever been in Asia before? – She asked.

 I jumped a bit, being to immerse in my own thoughts.

-       Yeah, I’ve gone to Japan and the Philippines. And have been in Singapore too.
-       I went to Thailand last year. Phuket. You know, the place where the tsunami happened. You wouldn’t believe; they have all working and it’s so beautiful. You should totally go there.

 As a matter of fact, I had always wanted to be there. And then the waitress came and I realized I was really hungry.

 As it happens, Mirna was a delight. For the following three hours I absolutely forgot whom I was or what it was that I was doing. We talked about everything single shallow and silly thing. We laughed at some celebrity news and also about some funny things that had happened to us in the past.

 We never said a single word about or jobs. It seemed to me we didn’t need to talk about that, seeing we worked so often and for so many hours and in so many places.

-       God, this is delicious! – Said Mirna, having some kimchi.
-       I know, right? Who would think a bunch of stewed cabbage tasted this good?
-       It’s crazy. Although, I’m more of a sweet tooth.
-       Really?
-       I just love chocolate. Any guy who gives me a box of chocolates, has a very good shot at being my husband.

 I laughed. I had never felt so at ease with a woman, at least not too recently.

-       You know, there’s a store in my hotel. They sell these Belgian chocolates. Maybe we could have some.

 And we did. After eating, we took the subway together, still laughing and pointing and smiling and talking. We must have looked as best friends all the way to the hotel. There, on the ground level, there was a large chocolate store. They even created custom made orders. Mirna and I tasted a whole bunch and we each came out with a big box for our journey back home.

 Then, it came the moment to say goodbye. I had forgotten all about work until, when she kissed my cheek and hugged me goodbye; she put her lips near my ear and said:

-       Bathroom wastebasket.

 We smiled and each other and, as she walked towards the subway station, I entered the hotel and went up to my room. I didn’t even close the main door to check in the bathroom. As she had said, there was a small flash drive beneath the plastic bag in the wastebasket. And attached to it, there was a note: