Thursday, August 26, 2010

The inheritance (self-translation)

The children who used to play tag and hide and seek were the inhabitants of this place a very long time ago. Now, it is their souls that roam about. At night, you may feel their fingers gently touch your back, or they could wake you honking the horn of your car parked at the bottom of the hill. Sometimes, they light candles, and they trip along the new hallways of the house. There is still wood piled on the floor, tools, and sacks of cement. They haven't got used to you.

How would they react when they plug-in the electricity?

Or, when more people start to come and go?

Here, nobody has come before or after them. Only you.

Back then there was a very dry season, and even though they were used to the intense heat of the desert, they had never felt a heat like that one. Not a single green plant remained in the hills and the valleys beneath them: the sahuaros had contracted an infection, a white cobweb-like virus that had been brought to the new world in one of Cortes' ships during his first expedition to the Gulf of California.

Since the heat wouldn't go away for many days, the men of the town visited Cascabel en la Tierra, the town's elder. On the top of the hill, she informed them that they would have to take the route northward, following the Hummingbird's Tongue or what the Europeans would later call Ursa Major. After consulting the pebbles that she let drop on a dish of stone, she told them that in the North they would find the Origin of the Sea, or Where the water parts the mountain rock. There, she informed them again, they would settle their new town and after many red moons and white storms they would forget the desert and all the sad and happy moments that they lived in it.

The men hiked down the hill facing the ground. Upon arriving in town they informed the rest that they would have to forget the desert, that they would have to make a long trip to the Origin of the Sea, or Where the water parts the mountain rock. The women protested; some said that the children wouldn't survive a trek that long, others feared for their homes.

The men met with the circle of women to bring a solution to the problem. That night the council decided that it would be only the men who would make the trip, and that upon arriving at the Origin of the Sea, or Where the water parts the mountain rock, the men would send an expedition back to town to guide the rest northward.

That's how the women waited many years for the men to return, but they never came back.
With the years, the children grew up and the women began dying. Two of them died from snake bites, another three drowned trying to fish in the high tide, one died of hunger, another from heat stroke and dehydration. Of all the women, the last one to disappear was Cascabel en la Tierra who, after watching the others die one by one, decided to take the route northward to find the men. She too didn't return since she got lost one night in the desert when the wind erased the sky.

The children began dying a couple of months after Cascabel en la Tierra left the town. The first one was found dead by the other children during a game of hide and seek. And, just like him, the rest died of hunger after all the insects decided to leave.

That's how the town forgot the desert.

Here, only their souls remain, this house on the hill with a view of the sea, and you.

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