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

viernes, 20 de abril de 2018

Lessons in the ice


   I would always spend my winters in my friend Robert’s cabin, in the woods just north of the Northern Lake. His family never used it on such windy and cold months but I needed that time to be alone and be able to think for once, about my life, decisions and so on. My family lived far away and I didn’t have any money to go and visit them, so I would pack my laptop and portable Wi-Fi and just cold them from the cabin on Christmas day to wish them all a happy day and talk to them for a while.

 The reason I liked the cabin, or at least the main one, was that the lake was just a few minutes away by walking. Part of it would freeze but the other half would stay liquid because of a strong current coming from a river that traverse the body of water. The part of the lake nearest to the cabin was the one that was always frozen, and I would practice my jumps and twists right there. I would do it for hours, never fearing that the ice would break beneath my feet or that I could be attacked by a feral animal.

 I had grown to know the lake deeply, so I knew very well that the ice was at its thickest when I visited, almost a meter thick at times. That was more than enough for me to spend hours and hours practicing. My skating was getting sloppy and I couldn’t do the things that I was famous for several years before, when I first entered the ice skating circuit. I had been labeled a “star” and “the next best thing to come out of ice skating”. There were gifts and praise and flowers and all kinds of beautiful moments.

 But that had happened then and this was now. Me gliding on the ice, jumping and trying to make a good figure, just to be stopped in the middle of the air by my weight or my stupid feet. I seemed to have lost my form in a matter of a few years and coming back now was going to be the most difficult thing ever. I had made the decision to try my best to make a comeback, a last attempt at glory before I entered well into my thirties. That’s the magical number that you cannot go over, not in this world.

 I had checked out every single competitor I was going to have and they were all much younger than me. The prodigy of the group was a kid that was more than ten years younger, with a small stature and slender body, he was sure to make a big impression in any contest. I needed to work a lot to get to that level, to even get near what the others were doing. No one cared that I had won so many awards years ago. They didn’t care if they had been gold, silver or bronze. I wasn’t in their landscape at all. I was just a memory of a past that wasn’t that old.

 I worked out every single day in the cabin, just after having a small breakfast. I would jog around the woods and do sit-ups and pull-ups and every single kind of exercise to make my body what it had used to be. It hurt a lot and it there were many moments in which I wanted to drop it all and just go back to what I had been doing for the past year and a half. Working at the supermarket and as a cashier in the local skating rink was not bad at all. It helped pay the bills at least. But I needed more.

 Telling anyone about my plans was out of the question. Even after sending my papers to inscribe my name for the upcoming events, no one had notice that I was there, trying to make a comeback. They would only notice me once I stepped in the ice once again to reclaim my throne or at least make a decent attempt at it. I hadn’t told my family or anyone else. No one needed to know about what I wanted to do with the next few years of my life. They wouldn’t understand why I just need to do it.

 Maybe if I had a friend, I would tell them what was going on in my head the moment I decided to go back to such a difficult sports life. But I don’t have any because everyone left me after I stopped being famous and a success. And those who didn’t leave me were alienated by the person I became after I hung up my skates to pursue a more “normal” life. They were disappointed in me and got fed up of my negative attitude towards life. I have always said that I would never hold that against them.

 Sometimes, at night, I wonder about what those people think now that I’m planning to come back to the competitions. Are they going to be still mad at me for leaving everything in the first place or are they going to silently cheer me on? Well, I’m never going to know that but it’s not important. I need to do this whatever the results may be and no matter how difficult it can get. And it’s already pretty hard so I guess things are going to be pretty messy. But that’s the challenge I accepted.

 When winter is over, I will go back to the city and start practicing on a proper ice rink and then the trials and competitions will begin. Everyone will know I’m trying to get back to the top and then everything will become even harder. But I trust I can push through and just get to a point were I get to enjoy skating again. I want to feel what I felt all those years ago, because it was the best feeling ever. It was like walking on clouds and being able to fly over everyone else, doing something most people would only dream about. It felt so special and magical, a one of a kind sensation.

 But before that, I need to get back in shape, I need to be able to be that person I once was or at least someone very similar. I have to learn from the mistakes I made back then and also make new ones, because no one is perfect and there’s no way I’m going to step on those competitions thinking I’m better than others just because I have been there before. No, I need to know that I’m starting over, from the bottom. I need to make the trip to the top with all the dangers and difficulties, because that’s the only way I can do this right.

 Sometimes, I can already feel the rush through my body, going up from the skates to my hair, rushing with my blood which is warmed by the simple power that you feel when you’re doing something that makes you feel unique and present in this world. That one of a kind feeling.

 But then I fell, flat on my ass, hitting myself once and again and again, against the hard and cold ice. I see my body covered in cuts and bruises and I realize I’m just beginning. There’s still a long way to go for me but I do not mind at all. I want to get to the finish line. I need to get there.

viernes, 6 de abril de 2018

No end


   As everyone celebrated on the streets and in their homes, Veronica wandered through the rubble trying to feel as happy as most people around her were. But it wasn’t possible or at least it was very hard to do so. Even smiling felt like a chore, like something you would do only to please people but not because you really felt it inside. There was a feeling of incompletion around, as if all the sacrifices of the war had not been enough to end every single type of hostility that many people harbored against one another.

 As she walked the streets, some lit and others not so much, she realized that the world after the war would be in chaos. Yes, everyone was cheering and celebrating right now, probably drinking stolen articles and launching fireworks that had been banned for so long. But after all of that happiness, a moment of truth and reflection would have to come and the atrocities of war would have to be addressed. For example, not everyone was on the same side, the winning side. Some people were not celebrating.

 Well, some of them were but just because they had to survive and keep on living. It was widely assumed that trials, of sorts, would emerge from the victorious side, condemning the losing side to many years in jail, banishment from the country or even death. Even if the maximum penalty had ever been enforced legally in the country, many of the victors would want the vanquished to be treated just as them treated others during the war. There were lots of executions, on the streets even.

 Veronica was actually just passing a street she knew very well, not only because it used to be a prime shopping spot before the war, but because many people were forced to stand in front of the former storefronts in order to be killed with guns. It was horrible to think about those moments, the images that would never going to leave anyone’s mind. That could never be overlooked, the fact that a large amount of the people now alive had killed at least one person over the last seven years.

 Everyone’s hands were tainted with blood; there wasn’t a single innocent, not even the children. They were used so many times to lure the kindness out of people, that all of their innocence had vanished. Many children were now celebrating the end of the war, just like adults. And the ones that were too small were orphans or just dead. Every single person had done something horrible during the war and now they chose not to remember that because it was a clear image of how disgusting and vile a human could get. So many atrocities in such a relatively short period of time.

 Veronica reached the gates of the Compound just as the night was darkest. She had to use a pocket lantern she had found days earlier, in order to go inside and check out the place for herself. The prison or camp or however you may call it, had been liberated only a few months before the end of the war but it looked as if it had happened many years ago. The place was covered in ash and debris, and the gates, doors and windows had been torn apart or had simply disappeared from sight.

 She walked from the entrance to a large yard area were she knew people had been selected. You see, not everyone was imprisoned in the same place. They had categories and each category had their own building in the premises of the Compound. The differences between each building were in the treatment given by the jailers. For example, former members of state entities and such would receive a better treatment there than homosexuals or blacks. Just the same as it had happened so many years ago, elsewhere.

 The Compound had surprisingly not been built by the losing side, as one would think. It had been built by the so-called winners, by the so-called heroes of the war. In some parts of the country, people were already designing statues for them to be put in every single park, in every single town. They had been the ones fighting for justice and freedom but they clearly didn’t respect their enemies’ rights at all. They were just as vile and vengeful as all the other people. They were not different.

 Veronica walked through the large yard in order to get to the only building that had been kind of spared by the last bombs the “enemy” had dropped from the sky. That was how the prison got its freedom. It hadn’t been an act of kindness. It was just the result of the last desperate attack from the would-be losers of the war. They had sent the few planes they still had and just bombarded the jail were their family members and friends had been imprisoned. They believed it was better to be dead that a prisoner.

 So pride made them act on that last move. And they succeed in destroying the prison and liberating some of their people from it. But only days later they would realize their days were counted and that their fate had already been sealed, well before the attack on the Compound. Veronica saw on the floor of the building some bone fragments, as well as fabric that used to be made into uniforms for the prisoners. There were also several metal plates and bowls, and a large assortment of cutlery. Maybe the prisoners had staged a mutiny as the bombs lit everything on fire.

 After a short time, she decided to leave the Compound through “the back door”, which was actually a large gap in the tall wall of the complex. She didn’t want to stay there too long in case the “winners” were patrolling the premises looking for someone to practice shooting with. She adjusted her backpack and walked on, towards very dark park covered with grand beautiful trees. The place was covered in shadows but even that way it felt like somewhere one would feel at ease.

 The park was one of the largest in the city and it was used to process many of the prisoners of the Compound. But apparently cold heads prevailed and no one ever really destroyed it on purpose or tore the trees down. Some of them had received damage from the bombs that were dropped in the nearby prison, but the building between the two sites had prevented the fire to really destroy the last green place in the city. It had been a miracle that most people were ignoring in that precise moment.

 Veronica walked along the central path of the park, hearing her steps on the stone and the wind blowing through the tree leaves. Everything felt so peaceful, and she was very glad to be there but even then she felt all of that could not be forever. She knew things were going to be bad for a while and she was alone and no one could just come and be with her. Her family had died during the war and those were not times of real friendship, just of convenient relationships that no one knew how long they would last.

 The best thing to do, maybe, was to leave the country altogether. It was a difficult choice to make and also a hard thing to achieve, but Veronica had nothing else to loose. She was carrying everything she owned on the backpack: some pieces of clothing and a couple of objects she had rescued from her former house. She had also stolen some food from a ruined supermarket, but that was it. She could easily walk her way towards the border and attempt to cross it. Or maybe get into a boat and sail away.

 Whatever she did, she had to do it quietly and carefully, as she had no intent of driving attention onto herself. No one was looking for her specifically, but everything around there was going to become very unstable and she knew that’s when unlikely things tend to happen the most.

 She decided to leave the city that night, taking advantage of most people celebrating the end of the war. As they raised glasses, told jokes, remembered family and friends, Veronica would banish into the night and attempt to forever disappear from that other night, one that would never end.

miércoles, 28 de febrero de 2018

Adolescence


   The taste of iron was not to be ignored. Maybe it was because of the cold that had swept through the city around those days, the fact was that the gun tasted like pure iron and the taste was enough for Felicia to pull it out of her mouth and put it back on the wooden box her mother kept it in case robbers or someone broke into the house. Felicia’s eyes were flooding with tears, so she ran to the hallway bathroom and thoroughly washed her face, trying to eliminate her feeling while doing it.

 She looked at her own eyes and nose and skin once she was done but everything she had been feeling was still there: her insecurities and self-hatred had not left her body just because she had taste the iron that made up a gun. She did feel a little bit less agitated and her mind seemed clearer, as if she had put on glasses or something. She dried up her face with a small towel, taking her time to appreciate its smell and texture. It felt as if she had never used her senses until that day.

 Felicia then walked to her room again and closed the door. She didn’t lock it though, because it didn’t really seem necessary anymore. She had dropped the whole idea of killing herself, only because of the taste of the gun. But it wasn’t only that, it was also the fact that she wasn’t really sure about what she was going to do. After all, Felicia was still a very young woman and had a whole life before her. Something inside of her told her to wait a little bit longer, to hold on for a while.

 The young woman was in high school and, as with most kids there, she had started feeling anxious when she discovered how things had change from one grade to the other. Now, all the girls in her classroom and age would be trying makeup away from teachers, drinking alcohol, smoking marihuana and even talking about their sexual experiences. Felicia, at first, thought it was all about a little group of girls that had changed in the blink of an eye but then she realized it had affected every single person her age.

 She used to enjoy talking to her friends about the shows she liked, many animated programs among them, and about some games and silly things that they liked because, after all, they were still children. Maybe not like her brother Thomas who was eleven years old, but kids anyway. They couldn’t legally drink or vote and they were still in high school trying to decipher math problems and having homework. The shift that she had witnessed seemed rushed and unexplainable but she soon learned she had to adapt soon to this new state of things.

 Felicia realized this when she started being harassed by some girls in school because of her weight. She had always been a little bit bigger than most girls but no one had ever said anything hurtful to her because of that. Now, things had changed dramatically: some people outwardly said to her how fat she was and that she looked like a pig or a boar. Sometimes it would be in a low register on the school corridors but some other times it would be right to her face, as if they wanted to see how she responded.

 She always walked on, deciding not to engage in any sort of fight. But as the school year went on, it was more and more difficult to resist. She tried to remember what she liked about school and so she decided to spend a little more time in the library. Her best friends were sadly not there for her at the moment because one of them had left for a neighboring city and the other one had just stopped talking to her out of the blue. It was probably the worst part of the whole deal.

 Anna had been her best friend since they were toddlers. They had been in each other’s houses and their parents knew each other very well. They had celebrated birthdays together, as well as spending some holidays in the same place whether it was Disneyland or a cabin in the woods. They loved to go shopping together and make fun of everything and everyone, along with their mutual friend Jeff. They were basically sisters for more than fourteen years and now all of that had disappeared for no apparent reason.

 They had not talked over the summer because Anna had left for a long trip with her parents and she never contacted Felicia after she had arrived. Felicia didn’t think much of it but she quickly realized in school that everything had changed between them. She had tried to come close to chat for a while but it was obvious Anna had no desire to interact with her. So Felicia stopped trying and the relationship died a sad and unexpected death pretty soon. It was devastating for Felicia.

She even called Jeff to tell him about it and he was kind enough to hear about all of it but the thing was that Jeff had some problems of his own. His parents were divorcing and it wasn’t clear what was going to happen with him after that. He had told his parents he wanted to go back to were he had friends and family but his parents didn’t seem to care a lot about what he had to say. They were too busy accusing each other of something, so Jeff couldn’t really be there for Felicia in any way. He just asked her if she was okay and that’s when she realized she wasn’t.

 After that phone call, it was the first time Felicia realized that she didn’t really feel great about the whole situation happening around her. After all, she started feeling alone and without friends, something a young person is sometimes unable to handle, as it is a necessity for them to be social and able to talk to someone if they need help or advice, and sometimes that comes from people their age who have information they personally don’t have. It’s something they need Felicia realize she didn’t have anymore.

 Her parents were another problems. They had recently begun showing signs of a certain distance forming between them. There were no family weekends anymore. Mom stayed at home while Dad went away to fish or be with his friends. And when her mom went out with her friends, Dad stayed around to be with the kids. It was nice and all for a while, but Felicia soon realized it wasn’t very normal for parents to simple not talk a lot to each other. She wondered if a divorce was looming.

 So the bullying at school, which got increasingly worse, her lack of friends and the tension at home, had all been enough for Felicia to take advantage of none of her parents being at home to get into their room and grab the gun, to the point she had it in her mouth. After she went back to her room, she started crying and she didn’t really knew why. Maybe it was because she felt weak or maybe it was because she felt very alone. It was then when she heard the door and it was her little brother.

 He had arrived from being with a friend and Felicia could hear him throwing his backpack and turning on the TV. Without thinking, she opened the door and walked to his room. He was watching cartoons and looked at her on the door when she appeared. Felicia tried to seem calm and just wanting to hang out for a bit but Thomas was no fool. It is a common mistake to think youth means ignorance when it’s nothing of the sort. He realized soon something was wrong but didn’t ask outright.

 Brother and sister spent a good chunk of the afternoon watching cartoons and sharing appreciations about them. Then, they grabbed cookies and milk and also some ice cream and ate it all just before their parents came back home. They didn’t look as happy as them.

 But all of that didn’t matter because Felicia realized she still had people around who she could trust and also that she had to take care for. The world was not going to end. She was going to face the tide with the weapons she had at hand and promised herself to survive the whole messy thing that is adolescence.

lunes, 29 de enero de 2018

No idea

   For a moment, we held our foreheads one against the other. It was not a comfortable position but it was the one we somehow needed to hold for a moment. I felt his breathing near me and even his heart pumping blood all over his body. I could see his pores and even smell the chicken and egg sandwich he had eaten for lunch. His eyes were shut but mine were open, looking at him and him only, wondering if that moment was really happening or if I had been transported to another strange dimension.

 But it was not one thing or the other. It was just one of those moments in drawing class when the teacher asks two students to come forward and pose for the rest. Of course, we would all be having actual models later in our careers and in college, but for the time being it was best to use ourselves as pieces of art. My partner in the exercise, Alex, was a kid that never spoke too much and that used to carry a huge block all over the place. He would always draw when there was no class to go to.

 What I did in those empty spaces of time between classes was to hang out with other students or go to the library and try to pass the time reading magazines or sitting in one of the many computers available for investigation. I would invent something to do for myself and then spend the rest of the afternoon there. I had never been a very social person, which might have made Alex and me really close but we were still two very different people. He was, and always had been an artist. I wasn’t.

 My family was made up by my father who was an engineer, my mother who was an architect and a sister that had recently left to pursue her career as a publicist. She would write to my mother almost daily about all the exciting things she was doing for herself and I would have to listen to my mom talk about it over and over again, during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I love my sister too but sometimes it was a bit too much of the same damn subject. But then again, there wasn’t another.

 My decision to become an artist had been subject of the most passive resistance I had ever witnessed for my parents. Thank God, that had happened only for a month, the time between the first payment and the first actual day of college. And had decided that to be my route in the blink of an eye after coming out of high school. My parents were not only against the decision because of the career being Arts but because I had never really shown an interest in it or, to be fair, an actual talent for anything that someone might consider an art form.

 Nevertheless, I assured them I was certain that it was the career I needed to achieve my dreams and goals. So they paid for it. My parents would never be the kind of parents that would say “no” to their children. Not that we were spoiled or anything like that, but they always knew when was the moment to say “yes” and they had to intervene. Apparently, this life choice had to be respected, so I entered my first year with the goal to make it all work and make them see that I was right.

 However, my second year had begun and I still had no idea why I was there. To be honest, being weird and not social wasn’t the only reason why people wouldn’t really talk to me. You see, artist love to have other artists to talk about… Well, arts. They don’t really care that much for people with other interests. Just look at any tabloid: most actors or actresses marry other actors or actresses or maybe someone in the business anyway. Yes, they might be exceptions but that seems to be the rule.

 And in my second year, it was quite obvious. Some of my fellow classmates, most of them to be honest, had already discovered what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives. The first year had been an introduction to the whole things, so after that, it was kind of expected by the teachers that every single person would have an interest that was more of a goal than any of the other things they would learn about. And the cool thing is that they could start choosing classes that suited those interests.

 That was the reason why my schedule for the year was all over the place. Contrary to most people, I was having a little bit of everything. I had music and pottery and then photography and drawing and writing. There was even a women studies class that I included solely because it gave me necessary credits to graduate. But I had no idea what people were discussing most of the times, except when the discussions got very heated. Then, I loved to see people fight for their causes, even if they were clearly wrong.

 The point is, I had no interests and I wasn’t good at anything. Yeah, my grades were fine. Not excellent or dreadful, just fine. I didn’t excel in anything and I wasn’t a total disaster either. I was one of those students, which always got asked their name, even if I had said it out loud in at least twenty different classrooms. I was sometimes tempted to lie about it but then all these issues and problems came to mind and I just decided either not to raise my hand ever in class or simple say my name always before answering any questions or stating my personal opinion.

The second year drew to a close fast. There were two more years and then we would have to choose what we would do for our finals. We didn’t really have many exams, like in other careers. We had to build a project and then just do it. I think that was the worst part of it all. I had no idea what to do and I started worrying about it the day that second year ended. Those holidays were not really relaxing at all. My back would hurt every single day and the number of nightmares was growing exponentially.

 It was so bad, that I decided to go to the shrink that the university had in campus to help students. Of course, he helped people with bigger issues than mine but I went there anyway because I actually thought he could be able to help me. The moment I saw the amount of people waiting for their slot of time, I was baffled at either how many people had so many issued in college or how bad this doctor was at what he did. You’re supposed to not go back if your problems were solved, right? Isn’t that the deal?

 I went there for about two weeks and then never came back because I had no idea why I was going at all. I realized the problems I had were becoming worse because that damn shrink wasn’t helping at all. He was actually trying to get to my deepest insecurities and private pains, and that would have been a box that I didn’t need to have open. The weirdest thing was, a month later, when I ran into him in an elevator and he looked at me the whole ride, clearly wanted some sort of an excuse from me.

 Surprisingly, I came up with my project’s idea one day, when Alex came into the library and just started talking about what he was going to with his own project. I listened to him for a while and then we had to leave because the librarian thought we were being too loud. He finished telling me his story sitting on a bench near the cafeteria. I remained silent until he asked me for my opinion and I had to be honest with him: I had no opinion because how would I dare to criticize someone who had already thought it all through?

 And then it hit me: I was going to be the subject of my own project. I would do something like a collage of various forms of art in which I would always be at the center. My struggle to know who I was would be my theme and the subject would be me.


 I had fun making it all, coming up with the ideas and telling all the professors about it. Yeah, they didn’t really get as excited as I was but at least I got a nice grade and Alex became some sort of friend. We even talk nowadays, when he’s not looking up at the ceiling. Oh, and I still don’t know who I am.