Cuentos cortos / Short stories II...


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South America » Argentina
January 10th 2011
Published: July 2nd 2017
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Geo: -34.6118, -58.4173


(...i.e. the stories from here, but this time in English).



THE WATER THAT SLEEPS

It was as though, that day, he just stopped talking. Just five minutes of lying there on the floor in the underground station without making a sound and he stopped wanting to say anything.

Yes, he could still force a conversation with his colleagues at the bookshop, or with his landlady, or with his pharmacist. But he never heard anything, and he never said anything, that interested him.

Whenever he showered, he felt nothing but the soap and the water. Whenever he took the tube, he felt nothing and saw no-one. And, every day during his lunch hour, whilst eating a tuna sandwich, he did everything he could to avoid talking. In his most animated moments, in between mouthfuls of tuna, he would feel his forehead, feeling for the bullet wound. However, as always, it wasn't there.

"You need to talk to someone, Will…with us, or with a doctor. Talking is healthy after what you've been through."

That is what his friends would say all the time – former friends, in reality, since they had given up on
him a long time ago. His response was always the same:

"How can I talk to someone when I have nothing to say? I feel nothing. Nothing."

Occasionally, he would concentrate and try to remember what happened that day, that Friday, in the underground station. He wanted to feel something, at the very least a little fear or panic. But no, he felt nothing.

In those moments, he would calmly and gently run his hand across his forehead once again.
*****

Will had been slightly closer to the ticket barrier than the stranger (a couple of days later, Will would discover that the stranger was called Thomas Ingram), but he was walking a little more quickly than Will. So Will stepped to the right, pretending he needed more time to find his subway ticket, and allowed Thomas Ingram to walk towards the stairs before him.

“After you” was what Will said immediately before it happened.

At first, Will wasn't sure that the sounds were gunshots. Before understanding the truth, Will felt Thomas Ingram falling backwards on top of him. There were more screams and many more gunshots.

In
that moment, whilst lying underneath Thomas Ingram, Will knew two things about him; he knew he was heavy and he knew he was dead.

Will closed his eyes and said to himself, “Don't move, do nothing. You're alive, but maybe they won't realise that.”

The killers, later identified as two teenagers from the north of the city, spent the time before the police arrived walking around the station, making sure that everyone was dead.

Will heard the two boys laughing. He heard their footsteps. He heard one of them speak.

“I think this boy's dead, but let's make sure!”

Five minutes later, when Will heard the sound of the two teenagers shooting themselves, the emptiness flooded his mind for the very first time.

*****

Will learned Thomas Ingram's name from the photo, one of sixteen, on the front page of the newspapers. He read that he had worked in banking. He read that he had a wife and a son. He knew that he was heavy and he knew that he was dead.

Will had never met Thomas Ingram's wife. Apparently, she had wanted to meet him, but he knew he would have had nothing to say to her.

Maybe Will felt nothing because, just to survive, he needed to avoid the questions. Was that bullet meant for him? What could he have done to save the stranger?

On his way home, Will walked towards the ticket barrier. He had a carrier bag containing an empty Tupperware box in one hand, his subway ticket in the other. Will saw the place where he had been laying on the floor, but still he felt nothing.

Once through the barrier, he put his subway ticket into his back pocket and walked towards the street. And, as he did, he calmly and smoothly ran his hand across his forehead one more time.

"INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO TAKE A PHOTO" or "INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO STEAL A SOUL"

Perhaps you have seen the lifelike images of people, places or things, that appear in books, newspapers and magazines. They are called 'photographs' or ‘photos'. I do not know exactly how a photograph is produced – I believe the process involves some magic or witchcraft – but I am going to share the little information that I have.

To take a photograph, firstly you need a machine called a ‘camera'. In the last century, one needed to put film inside the camera; however, the cameras of today work without consuming anything, save a small amount of electricity.

There are four main parts to a camera. On the front, there is an eye, large and round, which looks at the object or person that is about to be captured. On the back, there is a screen or hole, with which the photo-creator can view the composition of the photograph. Above, there is a button; the photo-creator pushes this in the precise moment that he or she wishes to take the photo. Finally, the majority of cameras have flash bulbs, brighter than a thousand candles, which facilitate the taking of photos at night.

It seems to me that the secret is in the order of the actions. One takes the camera, with the eye facing forwards. Next it is important to confirm that one's hands are not covering the eye or the flash bulb. The third step is the composition – one decides what one wants to appear in the photo, and what one doesn't want to appear. Finally, the button is pushed. From then on, the witchcraft will complete the process and store the image until one is ready to produce a printed reproduction.

Some people believe, and I am one of these people, that when a photograph is taken of someone, the camera steals a part of their soul. Luckily, the human soul is strong and clever, and, when a person knows that they are being photographed, the soul braces itself and, as a result, only a tiny part of the soul can be taken. However, when a photo is taken without someone's knowledge or consent, their soul is not prepared and they are going to lose a large piece of it.

If, one day, you are feeling lost or sad, it might be because other people have taken too many photographs of you. In these circumstances, it is important to take photographs of other people in order to recharge your soul. However, take care only to photograph those people you know to be good and kind, as, in the end, a rotten and dark soul is worse than no soul at all.



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