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

miércoles, 14 de marzo de 2018

La Vérriere

  The sound of a piano being played could be heard on the staircase that led to the each one of the seven floors that made up the building. In each floor, there were two doors: one for each apartment. Nevertheless, not all of the apartments in the Vérriere building were used as homes. Some of them were offices and others, like 7B in the upper most floor, had been in use for thirty years as a teaching hall of music. Some days you could hear a piano, some others a violin or even a flute.

 Below 7B lived an elderly couple, Ava and Michael. They had been living in Paris for almost seventy years, from the day they had visited as a recently married couple and had fallen in love almost instantly with the city. They loved the architecture and the vibrant artistic movements that you could see and feel all around. And the food, of course, was one of the big reasons for them to stay, as Michael had always wanted to become a professional pastry chef, and Paris was the perfect city to achieve that.

 They decided to move into the Vérriere less than a month after their marriage and announced their decision to family members and friends back home in England with a postcard of the city seen from the Eiffel Tower. Of course, everyone was surprised by their sudden decision. Yes, maybe Michael had always wanted to be a chef and he loved everything that had to do with pastries and bread, but they no one really thought he would follow the dream. And Ava… she was much too young.

 When they moved, Ava was seventeen years old and Michael was nineteen. They started working right away, Michael in a bakery and Ava in a bank. They didn’t ask for experience back then, just the language, which they had to learn bit by bit at nights. It was a hard life for a long time but they eventually moved up in their respective fields. Michael got enough money to enter school and become the chef he always wanted to be and Ava was able to be the accountant of a very prestigious chain of stores.

 Now, Ava and Michael are in their early eighties. They are still in love with each other and they rarely leave their apartment, for which they paid rent for many years but they were eventually able to buy it, as the owner had became a great friend of the both of them. They had two children; now living in the country they had both came from. Somehow, the love the couple had for the city had not being transmitted to their children. They rarely visited, the only foreign sound in the apartment coming from the music lessons above, which were an entertainment for them, more than a nuisance.

 In the middle of the building, in 4A, lived a young man that had recently moved from an eastern European country. It was almost a year ago that he had entered the building, only to check it out with a friend. But they hadn’t been looking for an apartment to live in. His friend ran a production company that produced pornographic content on the Internet and he was looking for a place that looked old and could be used to set various types of productions, somewhere versatile they could use.

 Both of them loved it but Karl, the boy with a thick accent, was truly enthralled with everything about the location. He liked every single little details like the door handles and the sink appliances, but he also loved the views from the windows and the fact that there were very well lit rooms and other one that seemed flooded with darkness. The high ceiling and beautiful wallpaper sold the deal for him. His friend, however, thought the place was a little pricey and that’s when Karl proposed a deal to him.

 Karl would give money to his friend, in order to cover the price of rent, but with the condition he would be able to live there, use it as his home. His friend was doubtful because he knew it could get annoying if someone lived there and a filming crew would suddenly need one of the rooms for a movie. But Karl assured him he was very used to the whole filming scene, being an actor himself, so he assured nothing would go wrong and no problems would show their ugly heads.

 Actually, he said that not being sure of anything, only knowing he just wanted to live there. But he eventually realized he had been correct: the place was not only perfect to live as it was huge and conveniently located, but it proved to be a great setting for lots of movies. Karl even participated in some of them. The incredible surprise was that the building was so sturdy, that people were not able to hear anything on the other floors. And the fact that there were offices around was even better for them.

 Eventually, Karl met a nice young man like himself during another location scouting. They talked and dated for several months until he asked him to move in with him. Karl’s friend eventually found other locations and he eventually stopped using the apartment in the Vérriere building for his films. The place turned into the home of Karl and his boyfriend, who would eventually become his husband. They made great friends in the building, including the elderly couple made by Ava and Michael but also the dozens of cats that Mrs. Laffite had taken in.

 She lived in the only apartment located on the ground floor. She was the person in charge of getting the building clean, on the outside and the inside. Mrs. Laffite was also the only person to have an actual garden in the building, complete with a small bench to sit down and several plants that made her home look like something of an anomaly for such a huge city. Nevertheless, she wasn’t the most sociable person ever, so most people didn’t even know about her beautiful apartment.

 Sometimes called Lala by other people living there, she had surrounded herself with dozens of cats. It was common to see her entering the building holding one or two cats on her hands, just as if she had came into the building with two bags of groceries or something. She always brought in new kitties, mostly strays that she found around the marketplace and other corners of the city she liked to walk around. Granted, she never went to far from the building and never spent more than two hours outside.

 The rest of the day was spent inside her house and sometimes standing in the frame of her door telling the cleaning lady how to do her job. There was always a different woman or man cleaning the place, as she grew impatient with them very fast. She never liked how they clean, how not thorough they were. She trembled when thinking about their homes, and how dust and dirt would be slowly accumulating in corners and under the furniture. Lala was a big germophobe, odd for such a cat lover.

 When someone talked to her, saying “Hi” or something, she always responded by nodding. If people started talking more, she continued answering with head movements and other gestures. It wasn’t that she couldn’t talk but she simply didn’t like to interact with people. And those who had been living there for a few months already knew how to handle her situation. And they didn’t mind and she didn’t really mind any of them, she didn’t really care too much to be very honest.

 Her happiest moment was being in her garden, tending to her plants. She would sing to them and that was the only time some of her tenants were able to hear actual words coming out of her mouth. Her voice was beautiful, soothing and simply magnificent.

 La Vérriere was a building filled with so many people from different backgrounds, doing different things and having different thoughts. It was pretty much as any other building in the world. A place where everything and nothing meets at the same time.

viernes, 23 de febrero de 2018


   Waking up had never been that difficult. My eyelids felt heavy and sticky. In the glimpses I had been able to witness, I couldn’t really see anything. Besides, they happened every so often, when my body would come back from the induced state the doctors had put me on. I remember opening my eyes wide, right in the middle of the main surgery. After that, I opened them slightly and wasn’t able to see a thing because it was blurry and pitch black. I remember the scent of disinfectant, though.

 I did not now how long I stayed in there; it felt like days, maybe weeks. The day I was finally able to properly open my eyes, I was surprised to find myself in a large hospital bed. Of course, I knew all along I had been in a hospital but there was no way I or my insurance could afford to have such a nice room. I turned on my chest and looked to the other side of the room, finding a very large window overlooking… Well, nothing. I was apparently in a very tall building because I could only see clouds.

 It rained soon after; at about the same time a nurse came in and checked my pulse and other vital signs. She asked if I was able to sit, so I tried to rise myself and sit on my behind, like people do. But I couldn’t. I felt a jolt of pain electrifying my body. She helped me back to the position I had been before and said she was going to get a doctor and some painkillers. The only one I wanted to see was the medication. I had never been a fan of doctors, especially when they tend to ask too many questions.

 Sure enough, a rather large man with a white robe entered the room minutes later and started firing questions. At first, I tried to keep up with him but eventually I stopped answering because he wanted very specific responses that I wasn’t able to answer properly. Besides, he seemed angry somehow, almost yelling at me for not knowing what he was asking.  He hurt me a bit when he grabbed my arm to check my blood pressure and then another jolt ran through my body when he checked my backside.

 That second instant of pain was enough. I don’t even know how, but I turned around and jumped out of bed, away from him. It hurt, but I didn’t care. I reached the doorway and there I faced him and demanded him to go out of my room. He seemed sort of amused by my demand but I insisted, as some tears started to run down my face. Not only that, something had happened and I was bleeding on the floor, heavily. The nurse ran out to get help and the doctor did the same, not before looking at me as if I was a monster. I wanted to die right then and there.

 A group of nurses took care of me. They seemed kind and did a wonderful job at patching me up again. Apparently, one of the stitches had come loose after I walked out of bed. So they had to fix it, giving me more painkillers and even a special medicine to sleep all night. They had intended for me to have something to eat but I seemed far too tired to do that, so they decided to leave that for another moment. I remember sleeping like a baby, having no dreams or pain. Only a great moment of peace.

 I woke up the next morning to a face I had never seen before. It was a woman, older than the other nurses, wearing a nice knitted sweater and matching skirt. She seemed kind, at least if her smile was to be believed. She excused herself for being there but told me she had wanted to talk to me for a while and she had decided it was best if she just waited for me to wake up. I felt a little bit weird at the moment, but the arrival of one of the nurses made the room feel a little bit cozier.

 After a brief check on my status, the nurse left not before telling me she would bring me some food in a moment. I smiled at her because, obviously, I hadn’t eaten a single piece of food for days or even weeks, only having a liquid pumped into my veins. When I thought of food, I pictured chocolate cake and a good big piece of red meat and a cup of tea with lots of cookies and even a big bowl of vanilla ice cream.  Then, I remembered I was in a hospital and realized they weren’t known for great food.

 I was left alone with the woman in the sofa. She stood up when the nurse left and asked me how I was feeling. I did not know how to answer the question and she seemed to notice that because she then asked what my favorite movie was. Instantly, I was able to tell her I had many favorites and would never be able to choose only one. She laughed and told me she loved romantic dramas but also science fiction films with a lot of gore. She knew it was a curious mix, but it worked for her.

 That silly question got us talking for a whole hour, even after the nurse came back with my food tray. As I had imagined, the food was very bland and not especially appealing but it was something and I ate it all within minutes. The woman, who happened to be a psychiatrist for the hospital, was a very funny person and I have to say I felt safe with her Besides, she seemed intelligent enough not to drill me about what had happened. Obviously, it was her job to know about it and ask me how I was after that ordeal, but she knew exactly how to manage the whole situation.

 She came back every day for a week, as I slowly got better. She was just outside the room when another doctor, a kinder one, came in and removed the stitches. It hurt a little but I never felt a jolt of pain again. The man told me that it was all coming up very well and that I could be out of the hospital in a week or even less. That reminded me to ask who was paying for the whole thing but the doctor pretended not to listen to what I said and instead made me remember I had to rest properly.

 I asked the psychiatrist too but she authentically did not know who was paying for everything. We had talked about how I had left my home years ago and how I wasn’t in touch with my parents or any of my relatives. Besides, I told her how they had rejected me when I was outed in school and hypothesized that they wouldn’t even look at me if they knew what my life had come to. She asked if I missed them and I confessed sometimes I did. But most times, they weren’t even in my mind.

 Two days before my release, a nurse and the psychiatrist joined me for a walk around the hospital. They told me I was going to need a lot of physical therapy to be able to walk normally but that it was almost a given that I would be able to do so in a few months. Of course, the therapy had already been paid but, again, no one seemed aware of who was paying for all of it. And to be honest, I had grown tired of asking. Maybe after it was all in the past, I would be able to properly investigate the whole thing.

 The day I was released from the hospital, all the nurses that took care of me came to say goodbye. I cried and they cried too. We had become closer and I felt them as sisters or aunts. My psychiatrist came too, telling me she would be there if I ever wanted to have a word or if I needed something. She even gave me her personal phone number. I thanked them all and went back home, to a small and dirty little apartment in a crappy neighborhood and the reality of having no prospects in life.

 The very next day, I got a letter. A written one. Of course, that was highly unusual. The moment I read it, I felt weak and wanted to run away but I didn’t know where. Suddenly, I felt in an open field where I was an easy prey for anyone to take advantage of.

 Then, I remembered my psychiatrist’s number. I asked her to meet me and she gave me her address. I arrived there within the hour, crying and in a state I hadn’t been in days. I explained to her the contents of the letter: the revelation of the person that had paid for my hospital expenses. It was him.

viernes, 2 de febrero de 2018

Broken home

   Shaving had always been one of those things to do when things were about to change. For many people, it wasn’t like that. Most people would never do something like a ceremony to move from one place to the other. But Phillip was not like every person. He had always felt different from others even when he was certain there was nothing really special about him. Nothing at all. However, he felt he needed to shave before leaving his parents home for good. It felt like the right thing to do.

 As he was doing it, he realized he hadn’t shaved in a long time. The last time he had, another change had come to his life. He had done it after formally entering a relationship that didn’t last very long. Phillip found it funny that people talked about one, two or even five-year relationships. He had no idea what that was like or if it was even a real thing. Being together for that long wasn’t the difficult part, but being interested in the other person for that period of time seemed excessive to him.

 Then again, he really didn’t know any better. When thinking about his parents home, it has to be clarified he was talking about a place were both his parents lived but had decided to do it in separate rooms, with their lives almost completely apart except for the obvious part of living together. But he had seen, for the last two years, how they had transferred from being a couple that was always fighting, to a pair of people that would rarely even speak to each other, let alone fight.

 They had decided to divorce a long time ago, but the process had become stalled do to several complications with many documents that they had to fix with the law, one by one. Any time now, they would be divorced for good and his father would leave the house to finally start a new life on his own. At least that was what he told Phillip in numerous times, as if his son had any interest in what he was going to do next. Frankly, the kid only wanted to get away form all that madness.

 He had achieved that by sending documents and filling forms for every single university he could find on the Internet. Not only colleges in his country but also abroad and with programs longer than four years. He really wanted to go away, to experience something new and different. Who knows? Maybe he would be able to find some really needed stability away from his crazy parents and from the person he had always been. Because he was also one of the problems he faces in life. Phillip had an issue with his lack of passion for anything other than getting away from his parents.

 He had tried though, a lot. In his last two years of school, Phillip had decided to try lots of new things and, thankfully, his school was a very good place to do that. He could include at least two classes each year that had nothing to do with the mandatory assignments. So he still had to go to math and physics class, but he was also able to attend some cooking classes, karate, football and even the woodwork workshop. He attended every single class until the end but the real results were very mixed.

 In cooking class, he had a tough time with the amounts of every ingredient he had to put into each concoction. He followed the recipe word by word but that didn’t seem like a good strategy because his creations would always taste awful or burn in the oven or something would happen. Phillip had to apologize to the teacher several times until he grew tired of doing that and he just tried to fix every single one of his failed attempts at making something edible. The teacher realized he tried, at least.

 In karate, he had the most fun out of all the classes. It came as a surprise to him that he was very strong in all the right ways for such a sport. The bad thing was that he wasn’t really able to channel that strength like he was supposed to. That meant that, although he could do all the exercises the trainer demanded from him, Phillip was the culprit of about five broken noses and several kicks that had left his opponents without any air and wanting to go urgently to the nurse’s office.

 In football, he realized he was out of his element the moment he put on the uniform. He felt strange and clumsy, which was kind of a premonition of his performance in every training session that season. He was so awful at even walking around the field, that the team’s coach decided to assign him as water boy for the remainder of the year. He was teased a lot because of that but at least that guaranteed him a good grade, which was all he really needed at the end of the day.

 Finally, it has to be said that Phillip really liked the woodshop. He was in his element when using the machines, because he was doing it all on his own. Unlike in the kitchen, he felt being alone there was relaxing and really a good way to spend the time. The only thing was his creations were never what the teacher wanted. He never really knew if he was bad at it or if it was all about that bald man not liking what he did just because. He got an average grade again and also the sense that people don’t really give a shit about how you do anything in this world.

 When the acceptance letters began to arrive, Phillip wasn’t surprised that the first two had been rejection letters. They all began in the same way, praising the idiot that had spend hours filling forms, only to say at the end that he wasn’t what they were looking for. Reading those letters, he wondered why would anyone spend so much paper only to say “no”. It would a lot easier to just send an email with the word “NO” and the words “rejection from this college” in the subject section.

 The third one was an acceptance, which was kind of exciting, but it was a college he didn’t even remembered reading about. Letters poured in for about two weeks. After that, he had received sixteen rejection letters and four acceptance ones. Three of the acceptance ones came from schools fairly close to home. Only one was from a university abroad that offered various programs but nothing that he was really interested about. He looked at their website for our but couldn’t make up his mind.

 That was until his birthday, the day his parents had agreed to behave like normal human beings. Or at least that was what was supposed to happen. Instead, it became the first time in two years that they engaged in fighting, this time over the size of the portions they should serve of the birthday cake. Phillip had so many feeling trapped up inside of him, that he just spouted out that he was about to leave them for good and that he was very happy he would probably never see either of them again.

 You see, Phillip’s parents had given him as a present a bank account with years of savings on his name. They had planned that since he was a baby, in order to give him the best education they could. It amazed him that they were able to do it, knowing how much they hated each other. The point was that he had the money to do with it whatever he wanted and, right then and there, he only wanted to run away from their crazy ways and every single thing that reminded him of them.

 For months, he prepared everything to leave the country. He finally decided on some career, not even knowing if it was the right choice. He made all the payments, got a place to live in and even tried to get a job at his destination, soon to be his home.

 The day he left, his parents agreed to take him together to the airport. Right before crossing the security checks, he apologized to them and told them he wanted to say “Thank you” for their efforts and also that they were finally free. And so was him.

miércoles, 24 de enero de 2018


   The explosion was strong enough to blow away every single glass of the magnificent apartment. It occupied the whole 35th floor of one of the tallest residential buildings in the city and it had been featured in several magazines as one of those grand and amazing apartment that people should be looking at if they wanted to have one ever in their life. Not that that goal was any realistic, as Wilbur Wright, owner of the apartment, had inherited the millions of dollars that had paid the apartment and everything on it.

 The destruction of the apartment was shrouded in mystery as, two days later when the fire had finally been put out by firemen, there was no real clue as to what or whom could have cause the explosion. It was clear that nothing ordinary had been the culprit: there were no gas leaks of any kind, not a faulty wire in the whole premises and not even a problem with any of the many gadgets and electronics that made the apartment an automated environment that worked on its own, with no help from any human.

 Wilbur Wright had been on a plane on his way home when the incident happened and he was taken in a rush to a gran hotel room in order to protect his life, as many thought he was still in danger. But he had no idea about what they were all talking about, as most people loved him. Yes, he had inherited all of his money and didn’t really work at all, but he was the charitable face of his family’s organization and had been a patron of the arts for quite a while. Who would attack such a person?

 From his hotel room, he was able to watch the flames consuming his apartment, as the buildings were not very far apart. He had bought so many collectible items for his private quarters, many objects and art pieces that were one of a kind. Many museums had tried to buy them from him but he had always refused stating that there was no better person than him to take care of a precious item and that there was no safer place in the world than his apartment for such things. Clearly, that had not been the case.

 The morning the fire was extinguished, he got permission to enter the premises and check for himself what remained of his beloved apartment. Every single piece of furniture had been consumed, even the expensive food he kept on the kitchen. Every piece of granite, marble and titanium was now tainted forever with a black stain, with yellowish tones that indicated the temperature of the flames. He went to what used to be his room. He opened the closet and typed a few numbers on a keyboard the firemen had missed. It was a large vault, embedded into the wall.

 The vault’s door opened and it revealed a small room that had resisted the fire and the smoke. However, Mr. Wright collapsed once he entered the small space and started yelling and pulling his hair. For a moment, the men and women around thought of giving him some space to process whatever he was dealing with. But then they realized he was pulling his hair a little bit too much, actually pulling some of it from his skull, getting it on his hands and then on the floor. He had to be taken away to a hospital.

 The news of his breakdown went viral in hours. It was assumed that one of the firemen, or maybe one of the police officers, had recorded everything on a cellphone, as everyone watched Mr. Wright pulling out his hairs. The video had been uploaded to the Internet and now thousands of pulling were looking at him going crazy. Some of them laughed and some others even shed a tear. The common part of the response was that everyone wondered what had cause him to have the breakdown then and not before.

 Wilbur was released after a whole week in the hospital. His family came to take him home, which was a very rare sight on the part of their family, as they had never seemed to be close at all. The parents had decided to live a life of leisure since they had given their children control of all the businesses, and no pictures of the kids’ younger days had ever been released to the public, something that seemed odd at the beginning but they told every news outlet it was because they respected they children.

 The truth was the family was as cold as some of people thought it was. Wilbur rarely ever spoke to his father or mother, not even when he had been for a brief moment in charge of the shipping company his father had created when he was younger. Wilbur had done such an awful job running it, that the family had decided to fire everyone and dissolve the company altogether. Of course, it had been awful for the workers but the family thought it had been a disaster because they realized that Wilbur didn’t really now anything.

 They took him to their summerhouse, far from the city, in order to ask him about his mental state. They wanted to know if they had to be worried about it since it would be something more to add to the shame they felt for having him as a child. That’s what they told him, word by word. They didn’t care if he felt bad because of their words; they just wanted answers and the faster the better. Wilbur only said they didn’t have to worry about anything as his problems were his alone. The way he said it stopped them in their tracks and they decided not to speak again of the matter.

 The truth was that Wilbur didn’t want anyone to know about what had happened with his house. He wanted to ask the fire department for another tour of the ruins, but it had been decided that the building should be evacuated completely in order to check for any issues that the fire could have caused to the structure of the tower. No one was allowed in, except for law enforcement and the investigators that the city had working to know if everything was ok after the destruction.

 Wilbur was so desperate about his secrets that he decided to use his money to bribe a policeman in order to let him into the tower one night, after everyone had gone home. He was able to do it quietly and without any cameras or people looking at him. He went straight for his vault again and when he opened the door, his fists tightened, as well as his jaw. He even repressed the need to punch a wall or destroy the few things that had been left inside that place. Not that there was a lot there.

 Only a few papers and a little safe with some cash. It was all just for security but his biggest secret, his biggest creation if you will, and the only proof he was much more than what his family thought he was, was not there anymore. Every part of his creation had been destroyed by the fire and the only way to bring it back had been clearly stolen, probably minutes before the explosion. That was the proof that someone had gotten in and knew exactly what to look for, someone had known something he had told no one.

 He wasn’t really scared about that person using his creation against him or even playing the people into thinking he or she had created such a thing. Nothing like that bothered him. It was the relationship he had created, the fact that now he felt as if his only child had been yanked away from his hands. He felt hollow, alone and very sad. That was the reason he had collapsed when opening the vault, the reason his brain had not been able to cope with what had happened.

 He had named it Pamela, after one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. He had created Pamela when younger, after reading a lot about computers and programming. He learned all that by himself and no one in his family or work had a clue about his hobby.

 Pamela was the product of his efforts. He worked a bit on her, every day, and he was proud to think that he had created a perfect example of artificial intelligence. She was nice, smart and very intuitive. She was a friend, a daughter and a companion. And now, he had no idea where she could be.