Thursday, August 3, 2017

Olga Oyster

My parents tell me I was always asking questions when I was a little girl. As they didn’t always know how to answer me, sometimes they escaped to another room and sometimes they made up a story.

‘Mum, why do pearls live inside oysters and not in the bottom of the sea or on top of corals?’ I asked one day.

Mum was in a good mood that day, so she obliged.

‘It’s all thanks to Olga Oyster.’

‘Who’s that?’

I was so excited, I jumped onto her lap and hugged her.

‘Let me breathe and I’ll tell you. A long time ago, there was an oyster called Olga. All her friends made fun of her and told her she was very ugly, so, when she couldn’t take it anymore, she decided to visit God.’

‘Really?’

I decided I’d have to save that snippet of information for later use. It might come in handy one day. So one could visit God just like that… Funny!

‘Really. This is what happened. God was very busy and told her he would make her shell shiny and that would solve all her problems. He covered her in glitter and Olga went back to the sea.’

‘And what happened then?’

‘Olga’s friends, who were pretty cruel, told her she looked like a pig covered in bright dust. Olga was heartbroken. She cried herself to sleep, and the next morning, she went to visit God again.’

‘Oh! You have to tell me how to do that. I might need to go and see him one day,’ I said.

‘Don’t you worry. I’ll explain later… Well, God was a bit annoyed when he saw Olga again. He had a lot of work, so he just colored her insides pink and told her her problems were solved. Olga went back home…’

‘And?’

‘Don’t be impatient. Let me finish…When Olga’s friends saw her, they laughed and laughed. They told her she looked ridiculous. She was so sad, she didn’t sleep a wink that night. The next morning…’

‘She went to visit God!’ I said.

‘Exactly… When God saw her, he frowned and asked her why she had come again. She explained and that time God felt sorry for her. He told her he would put a beautiful white ball inside her and said that every time she smiled her friends would see it. He also told her the little ball was one of the most precious things on earth.’

‘And?’

‘When Olga got back home, her friends told her she looked as ugly as usual, but she smiled and they were all astonished at the beauty inside her tummy.’

‘Did Olga live happily ever after, Mummy?’

‘Do you want to know the truth?’

‘Yes… I guess.’

‘Well, it seems the little ball was a mixed blessing. One day a man came and prised Olga open and took her little ball. The man hurt Olga so badly, that even though her friends tried to cure her, there was nothing they could do.’

‘She died?’

‘Yes…’

‘Oh!’ 

A tear fell down my cheek, so Mum hurriedly added.

‘But don’t worry. She went to live with God permanently and there she’s happy because nobody thinks she’s ugly even if she doesn’t have a pearl inside.’

‘What a lovely story, Mummy! Will you tell me how to go and visit God now?’

‘Maybe anther day… I’ve just remembered I’ve got to wash up now…’

She stood up and left the room. I stared at her retreating back,  wondering if she was telling the truth. But mums don’t lie, do they?



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Grandpa

My maternal grandfather, Rafael, fought in the Spanish war. He was in his thirties and already had four children, but decided to enlist because the situation in Spain was terrible and  he needed a job to feed his children.

When the war finished, my grandfather didn’t come back, so everybody thought he was dead. Only my grandma stayed hopeful. One day, she went to visit a clairvoyant and the woman told her she could see a  fair-haired man in the cards. My grandma immediately assumed it was him, even though his hair was light brown.

A few months later, while my mum and my aunt were playing in the street, they saw a soldier walking towards them. It was him… Even though I wasn’t there, I can picture the whole scene in my mind. I guess it’s because I’ve heard this story so many times and I find it so incredibly romantic. For me it’s the stuff of novels.


If you are wondering where he spent those months, I’ll tell you he was in a concentration camp in France. Apparently the conditions weren’t too harsh and he even learnt to speak French and to make rings out of chicken bones. When I was little, he gave me a ring he had made with a peseta coin. It’s one of my most treasured possessions.

As a child, I admired and loved Grandpa and was always looking forward to his visits. He always bought me sweets or pencils and told me the most wonderful stories. He was my favorite person in the world. 

When he picked me up from school, I always asked him what we were having for lunch and he usually surprised me with a preposterous answer like ant omelette or cockroach soup. Even if he told me the same thing a million times, it always made me laugh.

Grandpa taught me to love books. He covered his in polka dot paper so that they didn’t get spoiled. He read non-stop even if his memory was terrible and couldn’t recall what he had read the next day.

He was a cabinet-maker and could fix almost anything with his hands. He was also very fit. I used to  watch him from behind my window when he was in his eighties, running to catch the bus.

Then, when he was eighty-two, cancer struck. He didn’t survive long. At the hospital, he was still optimistic. I remember him feeding the sparrows that landed on his windowsill.

Towards the end, he deteriorated rapidly and they took him home. Seeing him in bed all day was heartbreaking. He had always been such an active man.

My grandma didn’t survive him long. She was lost without him. When I visited her to take her to the market, she told me she talked to him all the time. A year later, she was gone too. I know she died of a broken heart.

Grandpa passed away when I was eighteen. Many years have gone by, but I’ll never ever forget him.





Aglow. A cascade poem.

I stood atop Niagara Falls
In all my wedded bliss,
My cheeks aglow.

I held your hand
Feeling like a million bucks.
I stood atop Niagara Falls.

You kissed my cheek
And smiled at me
In all my wedded bliss.

I was so happy,
I had it all.
My cheeks aglow.



The cascade poem was a form invented by Udit Bhatia (who also apparently created the Alliterisen, which I'll try to deal with in a future post). For the cascade poem, a poet takes each line from the first stanza of a poem and makes those the final lines of each stanza afterward.

Raining Stars. A 100-word story.

'Everything happens for a reason,' my mum said when I was a little girl. Then she told me this story.

'A long time ago, there was a little angel called Michael. He was kind, but also absent-minded and clumsy. The older angels considered him a waste of space. One day, Michael upset a bucket full of magic dust, the dust angels use to make dreams come true and it fell down to earth like a shower of stars. It landed on top of a horse and ....'

'What happened, Mummy?'

'Something wonderful, darling. The horse turned into the first unicorn.'




Jay

Even though nobody bullies me at school, I’m not one of the popular kids either. You could say I'm invisible…

I have a couple of friends and several acquaintances and that’s about it. The teachers never learn my name and look surprised if I ask a question in class. That’s why, as a general rule, I try to keep my mouth shut.

My mum says I should be a social worker. She says I feel a special connection to the underdogs and pariahs. The truth is I hate those words, but I have to admit she has a point.

My best friend, Josh, is in a wheelchair. He’s a great guy and we like the same things, so how he moves around is unimportant in my eyes.

We are also friends with Obina and Dawn. Obina is half-Nigerian, half-Spanish and the children call him zebra. He doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere. The black kids say he’s not black enough  and the white ones think he’s too dark. So he sticks with us.

Dawn is a lovely girl, but she has Tourette’s and everybody makes fun of her when she barks in the middle of a class. Even the teachers, who should know better, are annoyed by her involuntary tics.

A month ago, a new boy came to our school. I knew from the moment the teacher introduced him to us that he was going to have it tough.

His hair was cropped short and he wore thick glasses. He was as thin as a stickman… I felt sorry for him straightaway.

At lunchtime, I saw him sitting by himself in the cafeteria and went up to him.

‘Do you mind if I sit here?’ I asked.

‘No, go ahead.’

‘My name is Julian.’

‘I’m Jay,’ he told me.

‘I know. I’m in your class.’

After that short exchange, we ate in silence. But from that day, I started sitting with him every day. Little by little, our conversations became longer. I told him about my little sister and about Dad’s job as a cleaner in the White House. At first, he thought I was joking.

‘Get out!’ he said.

Then, he told me he lived with his uncle, as his parents had died when he was a baby.

‘Mum died of cancer and Dad died of a broken heart.’

‘Is that even possible?’

‘Of course it is,’ he answered, offended.

‘What does your uncle do?’

‘He’s a scientist.’

‘Wow! Lucky you! What is he working on now?’

‘I can’t tell you, but if you come home with me after school, I’ll show you.’

I was so looking forward to whatever surprise awaited me, that the day went by extra-slowly. Each class was more boring than the previous one.

Finally, at two o’clock, Mrs Lawson closed her French book and we were free to go.

Josh seemed hurt when he saw me leaving with Jay, but I didn’t have time to explain.

We walked for around twenty minutes and Jay finally stopped opposite a derelict wooden house in a quiet neighbourhood.

‘This is where I live,’ he said, obviously embarrassed.

I followed him. Inside, it was dark and a fine layer of dust covered every surface.

‘My uncle must have gone out. Let’s go to the attic.’

We went up the steep steps and he pushed the door open.

The attic was huge and full of strange-looking equipment. It was a lot cleaner and tidier than the rest of the house.

‘Wow!’  I said.

‘This is where my uncle works.’

Behind a partition, there was a huge metal pod with two round windows.

‘What’s this?’

‘It’s a time machine.’

When Jay said that, I started laughing. 

‘You’re joking, aren’t you? Time travel is not possible. It only exists in films.’

‘You don’t believe me? Let me show you.’

Jay opened a door on the side of the pod that I hadn’t noticed till then. 

‘Let’s go in,’ he told me. ‘There’s space for both of us.’

‘Okay,’ I said to humour him.

It was a bit cramped inside and very cold. Jay closed the doors and pressed a couple of buttons.

‘I hope it works. Uncle Tod says he has to fix a few glitches and then he’ll sell it to the government and we’ll be rich. He says he’ll buy a new house in a posh area.’

For a while, nothing happened, but then the machine started vibrating. I felt dizzy and a bit scared, but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want Jay to think I was a coward.

After five minutes, the vibrating stopped.

‘We have arrived.’

‘Arrived where?’

‘Open the door and you’ll see.’

I did as he told me. I expected to see the attic again, but I was wrong. 

When I pushed the door open, I found myself staring into a pair of huge green eyes. The eyes of a dinosaur.




Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Crazing Heights. A Script.

EXTERIOR PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL - EVENING

A grey gothic building that looks more like a castle than a modern hospital.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT DOCTOR’S OFFICE. METAL FURNITURE, NOT VERY ATTRACTIVE. THE ONLY WINDOW IS OBSCURED BY  BROWN CURTAINS- EVENING.

A young man in a white coat is taking notes while the woman in front of him speaks. From time to time, he looks up and stares at her, an expression of disbelief on his face.

ADA
And when I climbed out of Emily’s book, Heathcliff was heartbroken. I told you, he’s so very much in love with me, he’s even forgotten Catherine.

DR LEESE
Ada, I think you read too much. The people in those books you like so much aren’t real.

ADA
I thought you believed me. You told me you did. 

DR LEESE
I had to. You wouldn’t have come otherwise. I needed to start you on your medication. You’ll see, in a few days, you’ll feel much better.

Ada wrings her hands nervously.

ADA
I don’t need any medicines. I’m perfectly okay.

Dr Leese sighs.

DR LEESE
Tell me about Heathcliff. Why do you think he’s in love with you?

ADA
He’s told me himself.

DR LEESE
And what about your husband?

ADA
That good-for-nothing? He’s the most boring person on the planet. He’s never felt a strong emotion. He doesn’t know what passion is.

DR LEESE
Well, think of your children at least…

ADA
They are old enough to fend for themselves. Besides they think I’m crazy. I’ll never forgive them. Why did they have to bring me to this loony bin. I don’t belong in here.

Dr Leese looks down, he doesn’t want to make eye contact.

DR LEESE
Is this the first time you’ve gone into a book?

ADA
No… I went into Pride & Prejudice as well, but I had to leave. That Mr Darcy guy is worse than my husband. I wonder what Elizabeth saw in him.

DR LEESE
Have you heard of Cervantes and El Quijote?

ADA
Yes and I know what you’re going to say. I know what happened to that guy… He lost his sanity because of all the chivalry novels he read. I’m nothing like him, however. I’m not crazy.

DR LEESE
Why do you insist Heathcliff is alive then? Admit he’s just a figment of your imagination.

ADA
Why don’t you let me show you?

DR LEESE
How?

ADA
Bring me a copy of Wuthering Heights. The one in my room will do.

Exasperated, Dr Leese gets up and walks to the door.

DR LEESE
Okay, where do you have it?

ADA
It’s on my night table.

Dr Leese goes out. Ada stares at the wall, a slightly manic smile on her face. After a couple of minutes, Dr Leese comes into the room again. He has a leather-bound book in his hand.

DR LEESE
So, what do we do now?

ADA
Just give me the book

Ada puts the book on the table and opens it. On page 115, there’s a picture of Heathcliff sitting by himself.

DR LEESE
I’m waiting, Ada.

ADA
Heathcliff, darling. There’s someone I want you to meet.

After a few seconds, the pages flutter and a cloud of dust covers the table. When the dust disperses, Heathcliff is in the room.

HEATHCLIFF
Where did you go, sweetheart? I couldn’t find you anywhere. My soul was bleeding. I thought you’d left me.

Dr Leese looks at him and then faints. Ada stands up and hugs Heathcliff. In his ear, she whispers the reason why she had to leave, but we can’t hear it.




Monday, July 31, 2017

I Only Wanted

You gave me  sad pearls,
Tinted with blood
Of all the girls 
With the blond curls
That sacrificed 
Their life on the mud.

I only wanted 
A water lily
White and pure 
To make a shawl
To cover my shoulders
When life gets chilly.

I hate the pearls
That killed the girls.
The poor lambs 
That bought your lands.
And I hate the blood
That covers your hands.

I only wanted
A columbine,
Something I can call mine
When I toss these pearls
With a swirl
At your cold, humorless face.