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

viernes, 8 de septiembre de 2017

Liz

   The album filled with pictures from her childhood had to be somewhere handy. She would always bring it out when her children visited and now it was nowhere to be seen. She looked for it beneath the sofa, inside very shelf and drawer and even on the small and cramped space above the house that people called an attic but it was not as big as she thought an attic should be. She had to bring out a stick to bring down the stairs and at her age it was not an easy thing to do.

 Liz was her name and she had never been too fond of her name. Her mother had named her after Queen Elizabeth and her father had agreed. She would always ask her dad why he had let that happened and he never thought she was speaking seriously. The truth was that Liz didn’t feel anything like a queen, specially living in such a secluded place, when most people didn’t even care about such things. She would have wanted a simpler name, a more normal one in a way.

 Finally, she found the album behind a big chair near the curtain. It was right then when the wind broke the glass and she was forced to duck down, scared a big piece would cut her face or any part of her body. After all, Liz was all alone in that house and the only way to get to a shelter was to go down the road towards the town, where a big sports venue had been built more to shelter people when hurricanes happened than for hosting sporting events, rare in the island.

 When she realized the glass had fallen far from her body, Liz stood up and decided it was time to get into the car. The keys were on the dining table, next to her jacket. It was a bright yellow jacket, which came with a hat of the same color. Her niece had bought it for her in a big fancy store in New York and she had to accept it in order not to make her sad. The truth was that Liz had never liked yellow but with that rain, the jacket had finally become pertinent in her small world.

 Before heading outside, she stood up in the middle of her living room, looking around, trying to remember if she had left something. There was a backpack with some clothes in the car, along with Jim, an orange cat that had accompanied her for the last three years. Besides that, she had her album beneath the jacket, to protect it from the water, and she was closing her right hand around the car keys. She then realized that, maybe; she would never see her home ever again. That realization sunk her heart a bit but her feet suddenly moved.

 Moments later, she was shaking her gray her in the car and Jim was meowing like crazy. He was sitting in the copilot’s seat and he seemed to be a bit scared of the storm. Honestly, it was much stronger that what Liz had predicted. The wind was moving the car, so it felt as if she was in the middle of an earthquake. On the windshield, lots of water was pouring down. It was impossible to see beyond the car’s hood. The lights of the town were nowhere to be seen and the sun had been lost.

 Nevertheless, Liz turned on the ignition and started moving her car very slowly down the road. It had been a great idea by her son Richard to pave the road all the way down to the village. They had made a big garage sale and with the money they had managed to fix the access to the house. It was one of those things George had always hated about living right there, far from his beloved ocean. But the properties down there could only be afford by the wealthy and they weren’t any of that.

 It had been George who had discovered the island, in a way. He had been there while doing business and he had fallen in love with birds and the ocean and the lush green soft hills all over the place. When he visited, the island only had a couple hundred people living in it. His insurance business could do great with things like hurricanes. Liz laughed when remembering that, she thought the irony of him never seen such a storm living there having insured the whole island was just too funny.

 Maybe too funny indeed because it was right then when she accidentally stepped on the accelerator and the car when downhill fast for a few meters before she could react properly and hit the breaks. When the car stopped, Liz was very scared and Jim was meowing even more than before. But she wasn’t afraid of the storm. She had lived through others after her husband had died. The thing was that she was certain to have seen a man outside, through the windshield, before pushing the brakes.

 It was getting darker outside and Liz didn’t dare to step outside the car and check if everything was right, if it was her eyes that were creating mirages in front of her or if something had actually happened. Jim fell silent and that for Liz was louder than an alarm. She put on her hat again and opened the door, letting in lots of water and wind into the car. Jim didn’t say anything; he seemed to be too preoccupied for that. Liz was about to close the car door when she felt something on the pavement. She screamed the moment a hand grabbed her left ankle.

 But it wasn’t a zombie or anything of the sort. It was a man, a black skinned man, much younger than her. He was very weak and his hand soon fell to the floor from her ankle. Liz kneeled in front of him and touched his face. He was very cold and it was obvious he had been outside for too long. Maybe he was extremely sick. There was no one near and screaming didn’t help at all. The wind was howling much too hard for anyone to notice her, even if they were close.

 Liz grabbed the man’s face again and she gently patted her cheeks. Seeing nothing happened, she slapped him harder. The man opened his eyes and he started mumbling but nothing made sense. There was no reason for him been there, unless he had gotten lost in the storm. Maybe he had left his house after the rest of his family and then he had just lost track of them in the storm. No one, not even the youngest person, could ever see a thing or two with all that rain, haze and wind.

 The older woman decided to do the only thing that made sense. She opened one of the back doors or her car and then grabbed the man by the armpits. She pulled as much as she could. It took her a while to get him close to the door. Then she slapped him again and managed to make him help her, by raising his waist a little bit. That was enough to get him in the car. She pushed his body gently by closing the door and then she hopped on the vehicle, all wet. Liz had lost her hat and she hadn’t realized.

 It was easier to go up that road backwards, than moving down. She knows that at full speed, she would be back home in less than a minute. Liz stopped the car right before she hit her house. Jim had jumped to the back seat and had helped by keeping the man awake, although he kept trying to talk, as if he was in the middle of a very deep dream. Urged by the situation, Liz grabbed the man by an arm and took him to the house. Jim followed, unbothered by the rain. The car had been left open.

 Liz left the man in the small room beneath the stairs. He would be safe there. She would hide in a tiny cellar that her husband had built beneath the kitchen to keep his wine bottles cold. She took the bottles out and snuggled with Jim in the cramped space.


 Few minutes had passed when she heard a horrible noise, as if a tree had been pulled out of the ground. It was awful. She closed her eyes in horror. But instead of remembering something comforting, she reminded herself of the album she had left in the car. Her memories were gone.

miércoles, 5 de julio de 2017

Norman

   From the very first years of his life, Norman Atelon was a very peculiar man. He was always avoiding situations, which would cause him to ruin his appearance, such as playing in the mud or during the rainy season. From the moment he learned to read, he spent his time doing just that, inside the house, in his room. He didn’t really like the company of his parents or of any other person. He’d rather have his stories and his imagination to go with it. That was more than enough.

 Norman developed this love of stories through his upbringing and eventually became one of the most renowned authors in the world. For some reason, he had dedicated himself to writing children’s books. His family saw this as odd behavior because he didn’t like people, and children were his very least favorite. He thought they were obnoxious and repetitive, not really taking any interest in the real interesting things life had to offer. He thought they were dull and dirty.

 However, the author once explained to his mother that he loved to write simple stories and that’s why his creations were considered more suitable for children. He didn’t agree at all but he knew it was best not to argue too much, because he did want to be taken seriously by other authors and by the world in general. For a person that didn’t really like people, Norman had a real need for people to be acceptant of him or, at very least, of his literature. And the world answered in a big way.

 His first book was a recompilation of short stories and it sold like fresh baked bread. Mothers and fathers all over the country fell in love with his imaginative creations and the kids really took to it too. Social media was a very good promotional platform for him, as many kids that liked his stories loved to paint or draw their favorite characters and then upload the pictures online. It was all made as a contest by the company publishing the books and it earned him a lot of money.

 So much he earned, that he became a rich man by the age of twenty-three, when most people are barely coming out of university, trying to enter a world hostile to their wishes. The irony was that Norman had never really wanted to be part of the world. He couldn’t care less if his stories made money or not, he just wanted to be out there, his name with all the other great names of literature. That was his achievement and he wanted to feel he had made it big. However, despite all the success, he didn’t get the recognition he wanted, only the one he didn’t care about.

 That’s why he made an effort at keep getting better at his craft. He studied, educated himself further abroad and, of course, he kept writing, almost every day. He lived with his parents for years until he decided he needed to get out of there but not because he was too old. He had realized he had to be fully alone to be able to create things that every other author would be jealous about. So he left his parents in a huff, not really feeling anything else than the burning desire to be considered a great author.

 His new apartment was small, very small. But it was located in a very wealthy neighborhood, with everything he could ever want not very far away. Not that he ever went outside for anything. He hired a maid to do those kinds of things for her. Food was a waste of time in his mind, so he dedicated the least amount of time to it, even reading through his meals or interrupting them abruptly when an idea came to mind. He had always been very skinny but he soon acquired an additional greenish hue on his skin.

 His parents and people he saw for work noticed this right away but they all knew him too well to say a word. Norman wasn’t the kind of person to care a lot about personal appearance. However, his mother convinced him to go to the doctor once. He complained about losing time of his daily schedule but he went with it. The doctor found him to be a bit underfed but, aside from that, he was healthy as a horse. It was incredible but he was, so no one could say anything about it anymore.

 The maid was ordered to cook better meals and he accepted to spend at least twenty straight minutes to breakfast, lunch and dinner. But he kept reading through the meals, because his mind had to be busy every single second of the day. People that met him thought it was exhausting just look at him go through a normal day. Norman was not a normal person at all; he was very unique in a very particular kind of way. Maybe that was the reason he didn’t like people that much.

 Friends, he did not have. He didn’t have any use for friendship or love or sex. As far as everyone that knew him was concerned, Norman was still a virgin and had never bonded with anyone else in his entire life, not even with other authors. People thought he wanted to be accepted by them but the fact was he wanted to be considered a true writer, a member of the group. If the people in the group liked him or not, he didn’t care one bit. That made people very annoyed by him, even if they were meeting him for the very first time. Norman was one of a kind.

 Ten years passed from his first publication. He lived in the same apartment, being cooked by the same maid and with his mom coming in every Sunday, as she had done since he had moved out. However, his father had died fairly recently so she had to visit alone. But Norman never seemed to notice his father was not around anymore. He did go to the funeral but he read a book through the ceremony and during the burial. People were very angry about it but his mother kept everyone from doing a scene.

 However, it was her who made the scene one day, one of those Sundays she visited her son. She served the meal left by the maid, as she always did and looked at her son as he ate fast to go back to his writing. He was working on a book about a young girl and her relationship with a magical cow. Or something like that, his mom was never that aware of the stories he made. No one really seemed to be, except his editor. The meal had gone by as usual except for one little detail.

 The mother burst into tears. She had never done so, not once in her whole life. Not on her childhood home, no in the house she had bought with her husband and least of all in her son’s apartment. She just couldn’t keep crying, tear rolling down her cheeks and nose. But that was not all that happened. Because, as she dried her face, she noticed that her son just left the table to sit on his table and keep on writing. Then, her sadness turned into rage, a feeling she had been repressing for many years.

 She yelled, as no one had ever yelled at Norman. Of course, there had been people who had had altercations with him. His way of being was off-putting to many. But that time, he seemed to actually care about the person who was yelling. It was his mother and, no matter how his personality was, he couldn’t just ignore the person that had brought him to life. She claimed she had been caring for him her whole life and he had never shown her the slightest sign of affection.

 For the first time, it seemed he didn’t have the right words to say. Norman had developed a very sharp and fast tongue. But that afternoon, all words seemed to leave him for good. And there was a reason for that: she was right. He had never shown her affection or any other feeling for that matter.


 He stood up and tried to walk up to her but he couldn’t. His legs wouldn’t budge. That feeling for her mother, whatever it was, was being overpowered by his personality. And she noticed. That’s why the woman grabbed her purse and her coat and never spoke to him again, not even when he was finally recognized as he had always wanted.

viernes, 16 de junio de 2017

That old house

   In the neighbourhood of Cedar Hills, the people were kind and very friendly. The houses, built many years ago by people wanting to have their personal paradises not too far from everything good in the city, were established in a very perfect order, each different from the next but still seeming like a family. Not one house seemed out of touch, except for the one at then end of Maple road, just by the tall trees that belonged to the park. That house was the odd one out.

People were extremely nice. They would have all these parties and gatherings, to eat food or watch a movie. Sometimes they did this inside of their houses and other times they would occupy the street and do a nice night outside or something like that. The children were all specially close, having a group that headed every morning to school together, in bicycles. However, in that one ugly house, there were no children. No one ever heard much out of it, least of all a laugh.

Once a month, every single person in the neighbourhood, made out of about two hundred people, got reunited in another of their gatherings in order to talk about the most pressing things involving their community. If one of the lampposts of the street failed, it was there they decided how to proceed with the local council. Of course, the woman that lived in the run down house was never in those meetings. Actually, many people had never ever seen her face while others had already forgotten.

 But the meetings were mostly about people talking to others and sharing their love for each other by singing some music, showing their talents and even sharing personal news that wouldn’t normally be in public record. They loved their community and trusted everyone in it. They were close, so close in fact that when something bad happened, everyone was there for the person in need. Again, except the old lady from Maple street, who people had already learned to forget about.

 Bad things rarely happened in the neighbourhood. In the recent years, the most awful thing to happen was when a storm ravaged through the city and many trees fell because of the potency of the wind. Many houses had minor damages but the neighbours helped in a very short time to have it all looked as it had always looked: perfect. However, a large tree destroyed the garage area of the house no one ever talked about. It was the first time in years they ever talked about it, as if it had become real only because of the wood scattered all over the place.

 Reparations on that house were done only several weeks after the storm had passed. The people, concerned by how their neighbourhood would look which such a horrible stain on it, decided to write letters and then sliding them under the door. No one ever tried to talk in person to the woman that lived inside. They just wrote letter after letter until they got tired of it. And when they did, they decided to forget the house was there, again. They just didn’t want to know anything about it.

 Children, however, were not as “kind” as their parents. They couldn’t block out the house so easily, particularly because it stood by the entrance to the forest, a place where they liked to play and explore. The fact that they had to pass by the house every time they wanted to enter the forest, made it impossible to just forget about its existence. They couldn’t do what their parents do and often even stopped in front of the house and talked quite loudly in front of it, about the person living in there.

 Kids are mean. They used awful words to describe the woman, the house and everything they could come up with about the two of them. They insisted the old lady inside was probably dead. And even if she wasn’t, she was clearly a witch or some kind of sorceress. They also all agreed that the house was haunted, probably because of the woman’s tendency to kill every single man that became her husband. She was kind of like a black widow but in a human form and even deadlier than any animal.

 None of them could know for sure whom she was or why she didn’t seem to mind about the state of her house. The children often asked their parents about it but they never really received answers. Parents liked to pretend the one thing that made their neighbourhood out of the norm was just not real, not even there. One day, the people from the city council decided to remove the tree that had destroyed the garage. Weeks later, the garage was repaired, looking as if nothing had happened.

 Of course, children attributed this to the woman’s powers. They could have realized that the materials used in the repairs were not very good or that it was obvious the garage could collapse again by being hit hard by a gust of wind. But the fact that there was such mystery around the house, made it clear that they preferred to answer all questions about it from a supernatural point of view. But when kids grew older, they forgot about those thoughts and the words they used to mock the woman and the house, and they became just like their parents.

 But no matter what the neighbours thought, including their children, the woman inside still lived and had no plans to go anywhere else. She was called Sara and she had lived in the house more than any other person in the neighbourhood. The reason her house seemed like the odd one out was that it had stood there long before plans to build other houses and streets had been laid out. Her home was ultimately included in the plans, in an effort to have a certain harmony.

 Of course, that wasn’t what happened at the end because everyone disliked her house even more than they disliked her. She remembered clearly that her last day outside was when the first families decided to move into the other houses. You see, there was a reason why Sara lived so far from other people and it was that, her father had built her a home because of a psychological condition she had, where she couldn’t stand too many noises or constant contact with other people.

 She didn’t interact with her neighbours, not because she thought she was better or because she hated them, it was because she naturally feared them. She felt it every time she saw one of them out the window. She hated when they spoke loudly in her front lawn or when they held parties on that street. She would close doors and windows in her bedroom and then sleep inside her bathtub, where another door would protect her from the people outside and their words and hands.

Sara had been raped when she was just a teenager and her father had always felt responsible for what had happened. He felt he could have done so much more to save her, to put her away from danger. But when it happened, he decided he would do what he thought was best for her. As she became more and more aggressive to other people after her recovery, he decided to build on a land he had acquired long ago and that was how the house came to be, made only for her.

 He had been dead for many years and she wasn’t going to last much longer. Although still agile and sharp, she was an older woman that depended on family she had never seen to deliver her food at night, through her backyard. She only ate things she could stock for a long time.


 Sara never felt she needed other people to survive. She had learned to think those boxes of food just appeared there, out of the blue. It was better that way. Inside of the house, it was her own worlds with her own rules and that’s how she lived, in almost exile.

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.