Untitled - EOI Málaga

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Untitled - EOI Málaga
MARTIRICOS is an annual publication of Málaga’s E.O.I. English Department. Its sole
purpose is to make public the short stories that each year are shortlisted in our Short
Story Contest, which can be entered for by all students (any language) of all the Escuelas
Oficiales de Idiomas in Andalucía as long as the story is written in English. In this edition,
2011-12, the first prize has been awarded to Paloma Ruiz de Molina Sánchez for the story
The Human Fairy, which will also be published in SUR in English. Rogelio Vilches Jordán
has been the runner-up with The Price, while Inmaculada Sedano Villena has come in third
with The Maid.
CONTENTS
Paloma Ruiz de Molina Sánchez .....The Human Fairy ..............................................1
Rogelio Vilches Jordán....................The Price ...........................................................4
Inmaculada Sedano Villena ...........The Maid............................................................7
Antonio F. Lebrón Fuentes..............The Transistor .................................................. 11
María de los Reyes López Pérez .......Old Stories ....................................................... 14
Sonia Fernández García..................Help and Gratitude ........................................... 18
Pilar Ruiz Santamaría ....................On the Right Track ........................................... 21
Rafael Valdvivia Núñez ..................Someone is Taking Care of Us… ....................... 24
MARTIRICOS
No. 11 – MAY 2012
XI Málaga E.O.I. Short Story Contest in English
Panel of judges: Carmen Carmona, Carmen Galán, Susana Morales, Diego Nieto,
Juana Romera, Teresa Sangareau, Ana María Sepúlveda (English Department, EOI
Málaga); Liz Parry, Rachel Haynes, Denise Bush and Susie Jackson (SUR in
English).
Cover: Javier Ponce, Untitled. Mixed technique on melamine. 55 x 55 cm.
http://www.espaciotres.es/javier_ponce.htm
Edition: Blanca Mª Lara
Internet edition: Marta Perles, www.eoimalaga.com
Distribution: Libraries of all EOIs in Andalucía, UMA General & Filosofía y Letras,
Diputación de Málaga, CEP, Delegación Provincial de Educación.
Depósito legal: MA- 565 – 2003
Martiricos edición impresa: ISSN 2253-9875
Martiricos en internet: ISSN 2253-9859
MARTIRICOS
THE HUMAN FAIRY
Paloma Ruiz de Molina Sánchez
Winner XI Málaga EOI Short Story Contest 2011-12
Paloma Ruiz de Molina Sánchez was born in Madrid in 1978. She is an Agricultural Engineer and
she likes reading, watching films and doing sport. She studies English B2.2 at the EOI Málaga.
She is now living in Torremolinos with her husband and her pretty eight-month-old daughter
Clara, who have inspired two characters of her story and whom she dedicates it.
It was a cold night, and Claire was in bed, as every night, waiting for her mother to
tell her a new fairy tale. It was her favourite subject. She loved listening to fairy tales and,
after that, dreaming of a lot of fairies, especially two of them, older than the others, who
kissed her and took care of her and who Claire felt safe with.
‘Mum, Susan has told me that I can’t believe in fairies, because they don’t exist.’
‘Of course they do,’ said Mum, ‘but they live in a different world separated from ours
only by a magic door’.
‘And has anybody ever seen that door?’ asked Claire, with bright eyes.
‘Yes, a woman saw it once. Let me tell you her story:
‘Once upon a time, there was a fairy called Iris. She lived in a very special country
called Emerald World, full of plants and trees, with a lot of nice fairies. Each family lived
inside a tree, and Iris lived with her parents, Sparrow and Dove. She used to wear a pair of
yellow shoes and a brilliant green dress. She had a lot of friends, all of them very cheerful
and nice.
One day, her best friend Daisy started to feel under the weather. It was very strange,
because fairies never went down with an illness. But the following days, there were more
cases, so the Wise Fairies met in order to find a solution, studying their Holy Book. They
were really surprised when they finally could read: ‘Our happiness depends on our health.
If a fairy started to be ill, it could be the end of everyone in our world. The reason would
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be that our magic powder would be starting to lose its energy, so it would be necessary to
find a special plant called the White Start, located in the Human’s World, in a cave near the
last sea. The mission must be done by a fairy with a rose on her shoulders. But when she
crosses the Golden Door which separates both worlds, she will lose her fairy condition, and
she will turn into a human being. Furthermore, she will have to put the White Start in front
of the Golden Door, and knock on it three times. After that, she will have to leave forever,
only being able to come back to Emerald World in her dreams’.
Everybody looked at Iris, who had tears in her eyes. She was that special fairy. After
seeing her family and friends off, she crossed the Golden Door with her broken heart, but
also with the strength of thinking that she had the opportunity to save her World.
Iris realised how her fine wings disappeared, even her green dress was transformed
into a human one. The only thing which didn’t change was her pair of yellow shoes.
Iris started to rush. She had crossed several valleys and mountains for twenty days.
She ate what she could and she slept on top of trees, so she felt confident enough at night.
One day, she had to cross a dangerous river. She tried to do it putting her feet on
each stone, step by step, but finally she fell and the strong current swept her along, until
her head bumped into a rock, and she lost her consciousness.
When she woke up, she realised she was in a bed in a small but nice bedroom. A
young and handsome man was watching her.
‘Hi, at last you have opened your eyes!’ said the man.
‘How have I ended up here?’ asked Iris, ‘And how long have I been sleeping?’
‘Oh! I found you near the river, you were hurt, so I decided to bring you home until
you recovered. You have been sleeping for three whole days and you have talked loudly
about fairies, powder, magic and things like that. By the way, my name is Daniel.’
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‘My name is Iris,’ she said, but she had such a pain in her heart that she started to cry
and, after a while, she decided to tell Daniel her real story. He listened to her quietly, and
instead of thinking about Iris being a crazy person, he believed her story and decided to
help her.
After a week, they left Daniel’s home in order to find the White Start. For five months,
they walked through forests, jungles and deserts, until finally they saw the cave near the
last sea. When Iris saw the White Start, she started to tremble while Daniel looked at her,
with a nice smile. She had a mixture of new feelings, because she was a human being. She
hugged Daniel and they kissed. Iris had fallen in love with him, and so had Daniel.
They came back to Emerald World after six months. Iris knocked on the Golden Door
three times, and her parents opened the Door and took the White Start. They hugged for
almost half and hour, because they knew they weren’t going to see each other any more,
only in their dreams.
One month later, Iris and Daniel got married. Iris was very happy because she knew
she had helped her World, and she liked her human condition. Moreover, she loved Daniel
so much. So they lived happy ever after.’
‘... And that’s the end of the tale, my little Claire. I hope you have liked it. And now,
have sweet dreams.’ And with one kiss, she went out of Claire’s bedroom.
Claire felt terribly excited. Now, she could understand why her mother hid that pair of
yellow shoes she once found. She was very proud of her parents, because they had saved
Emerald World, although her mother had changed the names in the tale. But Claire knew
everything, because she had her own secret: every time she fell asleep, she dreamt of a lot
of fairies who loved her and played with her, especially two of them: her grandparents.
*
*
3
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THE PRICE
Rogelio Vilches Jordán
Runner-up XI Málaga EOI Short Story Contest 2011-12
Born in Linares (Jaén) in 1966, Rogelio Vilches Jordán studied Architecture. He works as a
freelance architect in his own studio. He is a student of English B2.2 at the EOI Málaga. He likes
cinema, sport, and the classic horror novels. Last year he took part in our contest with a tale
about two relatives who shared names but were separated by 500 years and who had a glimpse of
each other through a hole.
Meeting
It was evening. The streets were not paved in that part of the city; there were neither
sidewalks, nor lamp-posts. Nevertheless, I could recognize his door thanks to the
moonlight. It was an enormous noble wood door, as the ones that were made in the
farmhouses of Málaga. It didn’t even have a bell to ring but a manual steel door knocker.
It was beginning to drizzle. I brought my hand over the door knocker and tapped
with it up to three times. I waited. No answer. I had to strike with violence. And finally he
himself opened, making a creaking noise that made me shake, banging the door beside
me. He was a burly man, higher than me. He was wearing dark glasses that surprised me
at that time. He invited me to sit close to the crackling fire and served me a cup of coffee.
‘Mr. Huelin,' he said, 'I’m really glad to meet you. What brings you to Campanillas?
Who has spoken to you about me?’
I didn’t answer at first and it was his sugar lump plopping into the cup of coffee the
one that broke the silence. My heart was thumping at 1000 km per hour.
'Mr. Montecatine, I know that you can do a little job for me,’ I said at last in a trembling
voice. The biscuit he was eating crunched and a piece of it fell on the floor. I couldn’t avoid
gasping nervously.
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'What kind of job?' he said.
'I need to get rid of a creditor who harasses me with a debt that I cannot pay. This crisis
has left me completely in the red'.
'Aah, and how can I help to free you from him?'
'Killing him. I know you have done it before.’
'Um, you have to give me all the details, name, address, everything.'
'Mr. Heredia. Quite everything is in this envelope. He lives in Ancha del Carmen Street, and
he often goes down every evening to have a drink to the bar opposite the Church of El
Carmen.’
'Well, it's all right. Leave it in my hands.'
'I wanted to know how much you are going to charge me, because I’m in the red and I
haven’t got any money.’
'Don’t worry about it. We’ll speak about the price later. It's sure you’ll be able to pay me.’
When I finally got out of the house, the drizzle had turned into a storm. The remorse
was oppressing my chest, but I had to do it. My creditor was making my life impossible,
and he was even threatening my family. And charging the crime to another man, nobody
might suspect of me.
I couldn’t stop remembering Montecatine’s face. His dark glasses might not have let
him see in the night. I didn’t understand why he was wearing them. I finally arrived home,
shuffled up to my room and spent all night looking at the ceiling.
Crime
I had to be sure that he would carry out his mission effectively, and so I decided to spy on
him on the agreed night. I went early, and hid beside a shrub at Misericordia Square. One
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hour later Heredia entered, as he used to, El Carmen bar, and half an hour later I saw
them both going out, towards an alley at the back of the Church. How had the mercenary
Montecatine entered the bar, that I had not seen him? Maybe he had been there for hours.
I followed them, looking up so as not to lose sight of them. Then I tiptoed after them in
silence. There was nobody there and so if I made any sound I would be discovered.
Suddenly I saw the shade of a hand holding a knife, rising and going down
impetuously. Later I heard Heredia gasping and groaning, and on having noticed that
Montecatine was turning his face up to the place I was hidden in, I ran away towards
Cuarteles Street, where I could get confused with the passers-by. Many of them stopped
their walks to look at me. The horror that was submitting me had to be shown on my face.
I ran towards my house and locked the door.
Next day I searched in the radio if the body had been found. The police were really
investigating but they did not find any track.
The days were distressing but, fortunately, time heals everything and peace returned
to my home.
Price
That day I was alone at home. Everything seemed to indicate that I would spend the night
calm when the door bell rang unexpectedly. ‘I’m not waiting for anybody,’ I said to myself.
But because of the insistence I got up and opened the door.
There he was, Montecatine: his calm and sure face, well dressed, with a dress-coat,
a cane and, why not? his dark glasses on, which once again didn’t let his eyes be seen.
‘Mr. Huelin,’ he said to me, ‘how are you? I see you have recovered your peace of
mind.’
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‘Yes, you did a good job, the police did not manage to find out anything. I suppose you
come ... to get paid.
‘Yes, gentleman, this way it is, but it’s not money that I’m looking for, especially because I
know you haven’t got a euro. Nevertheless, there’s something you possess that you can
compensate me with.’
His face turned diabolic. My heart returned to thump fast. What would this man
want from me? Then he brought his face close to mine and took the glasses off slowly. The
sockets of his eyes were empty. Montecatine was blind! I accidentally gasped in
amazement, and with such a speed that I had no time to react, he pounced on me with his
opened hands, pulling out my eyes, to occupy his dry sockets with them. The calm silence
of the night was so truncated by my unbearable screams, mixed with those of his diabolical
laugh.
*
*
*
THE MAID
Inmaculada Sedano Villena
Born in Málaga in 1986, Inmaculada Sedano Villena holds a degree in Journalism and loves
reading literature, except for fantasy fiction. She is a student of English B2.2 at this language
school.
The airport was crowded when Sophie arrived. No baggage with her, only nervousness.
She looked at herself in the mirror. In spite of looking so beautiful she didn’t feel confident.
Her long curly hair, her green eyes, her lips, her narrow waist, her trembling hands…
Maybe that wasn’t enough to achieve her dream. Could she become a good actress? In
fact, could she become the best one among hundreds of women? She was used to getting
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up early in the morning, cleaning the windows and sweeping the floors, but much as she
tried to think about that, she didn’t get calm: this time would be different.
“It’s time for you to stop if you want to take the plane”, said the governess kindly.
The good woman allowed her to finish her housework one hour before that day. Sophie
was very excited as she had been waiting for this opportunity throughout her whole life,
since the moment she told her parents that she wanted to go to Performance Academy, by
far the most famous and expensive place in the country to study.
Sophie remembered arriving at Hester Hotel three years before. She was made to
wear a uniform in black and white, which she found quite disgusting. It was the first time
she was going to work as a servant and she was nearly as anxious as she was the first time
she played a role.
The first morning she had to clean the bathrooms she felt as if she fell down into a
terrible black hole. But it was time to face all her fears; much as she dreaded loneliness,
she managed to feel comfortable in such a competitive world. Anyway, she had always had
a dream. “I want to be an actress, that’s why I’ve been preparing for it all my life. I can’t
assure that I’ll be the best actress in the world, I don’t even know if I am a good one, but
that`s what I want, it’s the reason I wake up every day”.
So much work was driving her mad lately. She was looking forward to putting her
feet up just for a moment, just to remember how wonderful life was without any kind of
obligations. A sunny morning, during the break, Sophie saw an advert on the Internet: it
was the twenty-first of September and The White Circle Company needed an actress to
perform the main role in a play for the star had fallen down and broken a leg. She got
frightfully excited about being chosen for this role. Besides, she suddenly realized that it
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was just three years since she first arrived at the hotel, and that was what made her
stronger. It was time to give up working as a servant, she had just had enough.
Seeing that the high season was just going down and there were fewer and fewer
tasks to do at the hotel, she decided to book a flight to London, the city, she thought,
which would show the world what a wonderful actress she was. “You deserve the best,
dear, but you must be patient”, her mother had advised her. She was only too excited
about the idea of getting a role in that performance!
Sophie didn`t know exactly what she had to do at the theatre, in fact she didn’t
even know what kind of role she had to play. She was used to improvising, it was
something she had been doing for years with her own life, because she was full of beans
and she was brave enough to live by herself.
She slowly came into a wide, empty theatre where three people were waiting for
her, sitting at the front row. The youngest man gave her a piece of paper and asked her to
memorize some paragraphs.
“Imagine you are a maid, a very kind one, but you are sick and tired of serving
meals and doing the ironing, ok? You must come across as a happy girl, although you are
infatuated with your master, but obviously you both make strange bedfellows. As you well
know, the plot is very common, what is really important is the way you behave. We want to
check if you are different or not, ok?”
And that was all. During a couple of minutes silence was more than uncomfortable
for her, the poor Sophie, a charming girl with only one dream, standing bare and isolated in
the middle of the stage. She could feel the breath of the jury: they looked bored, with no
more patience to find the right actress.
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“I shouldn’t look at them. I`ll do my best. Here I am”.
Two weeks later, at Hester Hotel, the governess decided they all needed a rest, so,
in spite of not having so much time, she managed to organize a party for the hotel staff.
Everybody used to enjoy these parties a lot, especially the lucky people who were
congratulated by Mr. Keating, the director, on the wonderful work they had been doing
throughout the year. This time, Sophie was one of those people. Without any doubt, she
deserved it.
But what Sophie really wanted was to be the best servant, not in the Hester Hotel,
but in the theatre. She was thinking about that with a glass of wine in her hands when the
receptionist told her she had a phone call.
“Sophie?” asked the voice. “I`m calling from The White Circle Company...”
Sophie began to have a stomachache, her heart was crazy! She wanted to sit
down, but the voice went on speaking. Too many words, she thought, to say only “yes” or
“no”.
“…We really think that you are a very talented girl, we were astonished! But the
problem is not you, it’s the role, you don’t look like a servant. You don’t fit into this kind of
character. We’re sorry”.
“You don’t fit into this character”, Sophie repeated, looking at the stains of her
apron.
*
*
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THE TRANSISTOR
Antonio F. Lebrón Fuentes
A student of French B2.1 at EOI Villacarrillo, Antonio F. Lebrón Fuentes got his B2 certificate in
English last year. His hobbies include reading (novels and essays, among other genres), writing
and cinema.
The woman settled on one of the old cat´s-tail chairs in the small living room,
stretched out her trembling hand towards the chipped dish which had been previously
placed on the coffee table and, after having taken a pair of diabetic biscuits, she sank them
into the lukewarm milk, pressing them with a teaspoon until crumbling them almost
completely inside the glaze crockery. Finally, she sipped this frugal food mechanically. This
way, she fulfilled her evening routine.
A lively and resonant voice, occasionally interrupted by ill-timed interferences, was
booming in the windowsill from the loudspeaker hidden behind the oblong grille of the
ancient family ‘transistor’. This old radio set, which had been the sole heritage from her
husband, a cheerful and shrewd man with whom she had shared the best time of her life,
wasn’t a mere relic for her; rather, it had become a kind of talisman that had replaced him
and freed her from her isolation: that terrible and awful monster that used to accompany
her in her long afternoons of loneliness.
In a sense, the simple fact of listening to that old radio set was for the old woman a
kind of sacred rite capable of transforming her and freeing her mind from its thoughts. The
magic of the voices uttered by the radio used to plunge her into a world full of subtleties
and information and take her to many of the places where she had wished to travel when
she was younger, but that, due to the lack of resources, she had never been able to visit.
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The day that the head of the family turned up at home holding a little grey plastic
and aluminium box, brand name Telefunken, model Harpa, from which several buttons
lined up at the top protruded, had turned out to be really exciting. The rumour that the
Martínez family had a talking box that knew almost all that was happening around the
world spread very fast. The neighbours went to inquire about the innovation swiftly and
they were soon captivated by the appeal of the technological breakthrough that they had
just discovered, although the truth is that many of them would take a lot of time to
assimilate it. That glorious day, the owners went to bed very late, due to the fact that the
people that visited the house that day were enraptured by the broadcasters´ voices till the
early morning.
The days after the acquisition of the gadget were a continuum of comings and
goings. The husband, tired of observing the annoying audience that used to crowd the
small living room of his dwelling day after day, had no choice but to take drastic action:
"This isn’t a theatre,” he had shouted furiously in one of those evenings on coming back
from his job, "if you want a transistor, buy it! Quintín has got plenty of them in his store.
You can pay in installments. Everybody out!”
From that day onwards nobody had enough courage to go back to the residence of
the bad-tempered Antón Martínez to listen to the radio. Only the bravest ones would slow
their pace on going by the house’s window, through which the sonorous voices of
broadcasters and one or two “Buy it now! If you are one of the first customers, you´ll get a
nice surprise as a present” used to pour out.
Eventually, that radio set became another member in the family, influencing even
the daily decision-taking. Not in vain, that solitary woman, who had just finished her frugal
dinner before sheltering into her dreams, had kept her face as smooth as silk, in spite of
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being an elderly woman, thanks to the beauty tips with which the exceptional Elena Francis
used to pepper her radio phone-in.
The lively and resonant voice that had pervaded the run-down living room with its
cheerful tone made way for a popular song and the woman was overcome with longing.
The delicate voice of Juanito Valderrama took the aged woman back to bygone days,
just to the moment in which she had dedicated that same Spanish catchy song, Precaución,
amigo conductor, to her husband while he was driving home. However, that time it did not
work. Two hours after having listened to her husband’s name in the radio, a pair of
policemen in uniform knocked at her door to tell her the terrible news: her husband had
been the victim of a deadly accident.
That time, during the days after the funeral, was also the first time that the radio set
fell silent, waiting for the widow to give the voice back to her, from then onwards,
inseparable partner.
The old woman curled up on her chair while the final echoes of the gloomy melody
were starting to vanish in her hectic mind. She closed her eyes and abandoned herself to
sleep.

Suddenly, the news headlines burst in from the CD-player in the café, replacing the
sonorous and cheerful voice that had pervaded the atmosphere up to then by a deep and
grave voice:
“Good morning. We interrupt the broadcast to offer you a late item. An elderly lady
has been found at her domicile some minutes ago. The corpse, which was leaning
on a little coffee table in the living room, did not have signs of violence. It seems
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that the old woman has died victim of loneliness and neglect. We will keep you
informed in next news bulletins.”
Salvadora, aged eighty, had not suffered, at least, in the last moments of her life:
she had only felt a sharp pain in her chest just for an instant. After that, the muscles of her
body relaxed so as not to tense again. Behind her, she had left a life full of heartache and,
as a heritage, an old radio set, equipped with transistors.
*
*
*
OLD STORIES
María de los Reyes López Pérez
Born in Málaga in 1978, this Computer Systems engineer works as a vocational training teacher
in the IES Pablo Picasso. The author of a textbook for McGraw-Hill, she loves making jigsaw
puzzles, reading thrillers and historical novels, gardening, cooking and learning languages. She
already got her B2 certificate and is now “going Italian” with us. Her story Fortune featured in
last year’s Martiricos.
We didn’t feel like going there yet, but there wasn’t much time left: some months
ago, we had been told to vacate grandmother’s house because the landlord wanted to
make improvements. It was a very old flat located in the centre of the city, with high
ceilings and thick walls. Light shone inside the rooms through large windows and balconies.
There was beautiful antique furniture, pitifully worm-eaten, a coal cooker, a bathtub with
legs like those used long ago... Everything was seasoned with lots of history in each corner
and tons of that dust which continues appearing when you blow your nose even some days
after cleaning the house.
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When my grandfather died, my grandmother came to live with us so that she wasn’t
alone at home. Since then, her flat had become a storage place for things that we weren’t
able to keep in the family business place or just for things that, even though absolutely
useless, you were emotionally unable to throw into the nearest trash bin. As the flat hire
was really cheap, it was the best repository and, in this way, my grandmother didn’t have
to think about what she may relinquish. Some years later, she dropped off us too and with
her she also left most of the emotional problems involved in leaving the flat once and for
all. At that time, I was about twelve.
We arrived there, garbage bags and brushes at the ready, to finish the last hours of
cleaning the flat. We decided to share the work and so I was assigned to clean the
bedroom – oh, my God – with that big wardrobe where at least five people may hide; the
curtains, where lots of ghosts might conceal; the bed... who knows what I might find under
it; those huge mirrors... Better not to think about it and grab the brush really hard, just in
case. After opening the balconies and Venetian blinds in order to let the light come in,
taking down the curtains that were as heavy as if the bodies of the ghosts – yes, the ones
hidden behind them – actually were hung off them, and taking off the sheets and the
bedspread, there weren’t many options: wardrobe with, possibly, five occupants or bedside
table. Obviously, I chose the last one.
First drawer, let’s see: embroidered handkerchiefs, old photos of my grandfather and
my father. There was a little book too, without a name, with handwritten pages. I was
pretty sure that the handwriting was my grandmother’s. Some pages were badly damaged,
but others could be read quite well. The book began with a date: January 25th, 1932. After
that, there were more dates and many stories. I was sure they’d be much more interesting
than opening the wardrobe so I started to read. Her grandfather and father had died young
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and her mother and grandmother had managed to earn their living. With some savings,
they bought a plot with a cottage where they moved and lived quietly, growing their own
food and making some money selling tobacco plants. In April she had met a handsome
young man that soon would become her husband. He worked in a jewellery shop where
she went one day with a friend looking for a present. As I read in later entries, every time
she had to buy a gift, and if she didn’t have to give anything away she invented it, she
visited that man asking for his help. On June 6th, 1932 my grandfather decided to ask for
permission to marry her. Thus, on April 29th, 1933 she lived the happiest day in her life, in
a beautiful white dress.
August, 1933 – We are expecting a baby. We are so happy! Our doctor has said that it’ll
be with us around February next year. I can’t wait.
…
April, 1935 – I hardly have time to write because I’m very busy with the baby and the
house. We are exultant at Anthony. He’s the best of our lives.
…
October, 1936 – It’s a difficult time. There are many riots. Our business has been looted
several times. In the cottage most of the hens have been stolen. We are moving to the
village as there the situation seems to be calmer.
…
January, 1939 – My cousin has always been envious of our family. She and her husband
want to get the cottage. They have accused us of being religious people because some
men are looking for religious people to kill them. Some friends have told us that my
husband is wanted to be shot but they know the truth. Tonight a lorry with supplies is
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leaving the village and our friends are going to hide us there. It’s our only chance to save
our lives. I’m in fear of my mother and grandmother’s lives. They are alone in the cottage.
Oh, my poor baby… It’s so cold.
…
April, 1939 – It has been the saddest time in my life. We had been running away for
months until we became out of suspicion. I’ve been told about mum and grandma: some
men took them away and shot them, each one on a side of the path. When our friends
went to get the bodies to bury them, they found the two women together, holding their
hands. At least one of them was supposed to be alive after the shot and she had time to
drag herself across the path to die together. Mummy...
…
I don’t know how long I had been engrossed reading, but suddenly my mother came
in worried about my silence, and there I was, sitting down on a dusty bed with tears in my
eyes, reading an old book. She took the book and read the page I was reading and with
love told me, ‘Sweetheart, it wasn’t many people’s war but everyone was at war. We must
learn not to make the same mistakes.’
*
*
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HELP AND GRATITUDE
Sonia Fernández García
Sonia Fernández García was born in Palma de Mallorca en 1977 and graduated in History. She
loves reading all sorts of books. She is on the lookout for a job and learning English at EOI
Málaga (B1 level).
“I really did not mind sleeping with my parents, and I knew the terrible event on the
day before, but that man was very strange. His skin was very white and his hair was blond,
almost white. He was injured in his shoulder and arm, but he was also ill, and he was
sleeping in our bed, where my sister and I usually slept. My mother and my father talked
with him by signs, and they took care of him very carefully, as though he was a baby.
On December 16th 1900, the German frigate called Gneisenau was sunk and pushed
against the rocks by the enraged sea. The people in Málaga, under the black sky and the
unstopping rain, tried to rescue all the sailors they could, in boats, with ropes from the
cliffs… All Málaga was there for the shipwrecked: people, cars, hospitals and houses; some
of the sailors, including the German commander, and several men from Málaga died in the
sea.
Sometimes the white man screamed in the middle of the night. He had terrible
nightmares, and also he cried. My mummy said, “In his dreams he is remembering the
wreck. It was awful and he lost a lot of friends in it.” I understood him; the sea, after
breaking the anchors, played with the frigate, like a little child with a toy. The waves shook
it up, till finally the ship sank off Málaga. The sailors tried to save themselves, but the
waves pushed them either against the rocks or down to the bottom of the sea.
One day he left our home. In his blue eyes we could see his gratitude. He went back
to his country in the steamship “Andalucía”. He looked happy and sad at the same time. I
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thought, he’s happy because he will go back with his family, and sad because his friends
remain forever in a Mausoleum, in the English Graveyard in Málaga. In their funeral there
were Germans and people from Málaga.
A few years later, I remember I was dreaming of my possible wedding. I could hear
the strokes of the church bell, I wore a dress like my mother’s in her wedding photograph,
the sun was shining and there stood all my people, my family, my friends and my
neighbours. I do not remember the groom's face. In a second the sky turned black, and a
flood came to us and devastated all. The people started to shout, the brown water took
everything to the sea, the seashore was full of flowers and people who I knew. Some of
them did not move, and I was scared. Suddenly my sister, Paula, woke me up from the
nightmare. “Come on, María, we have to go to Mercedes’s house, Daddy and the rest of us
are going to the centre, the river has overflowed again.” It was very late, still it was dark;
the strokes, the flood noise, the screaming, all the noises in my dream were really
happening. The people were organising rescue teams and help, like it happened with the
Gneisenau.
When they got back, they told me about what was happening. A waterspout rushed
out on Málaga. That day it had not rained in the city, but in the mounts. In the
Guadalmedina’s catchment, the water and the mud overflowed the river bed. The water
reached a height of five metres, the main streets in Málaga were muddy, and the mud
made it possible to get into the houses through the balconies. Many houses were in ruins;
by chance my house was on the top of the city, and my parents, brothers, sister and I gave
thanks to God for our luck. I could not avoid thinking of Carmela’s family (my best, secret
friend, Carmela, was a gypsy, and had been living in the river bed for years). Despite the
chimes from the Cathedral’s bells, the whistle of the watchmen and the screams for help, a
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lot of people were injured and some others appeared dead. Three bridges over the
Guadalmedina were pulled by the water and the mud, till finally they were torn down. The
first was La Aurora’s bridge, later Santo Domingo’s bridge, and the last one was the
railway’s bridge; Málaga was divided into two parts by the only remaining bridge, the
Tetuan’s bridge, and this was not safe to be crossed.
After the catastrophe, which was called “la Gran Riá”, our king, Alfonso XIII, and the
minister Maura came to the city and they saw the terrible situation. The king was not really
handsome. He had big ears. He was very thin and tall, and it seemed as if a little blow
could make him fly over Málaga. I thought that I could ask him, “How does Málaga look
from the top?” It did not, fortunately; but it would have been funny. Instead of the king,
there was a man who all people called the president or the minister and who seemed a
grandpa. He filled me with respect. Both of them and someone else helped Málaga in
different ways. This someone was the German people. They remembered how we helped
the Gneisenau’s sailors, and the next day they started to raise money to help us. A new
bridge was built two years later, the new Santo Domingo’s bridge. All of us call it the
German people’s bridge.”
My great-grandmother would tell me that story once in a while, and I have
remembered it because I read in the newspaper that Málaga’s mayor is going to bury the
river. And I ask myself, what will happen with the river, the floods and the bridge? Also, I
have watched the terrible wreck of the Costa Concordia on television. Apparently, this time
the captain was the first to go out of the cruiser.
*
*
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ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Pilar Ruiz Santamaría
Pilar Ruiz Santamaría was born in Melilla in 1961 and graduated in English Philology. She is an
English teacher. She likes cooking, travelling, cinema, music, and reading historical novels and
essays. It is the first time she gets published. Her story is a ‘stream of consciousness’ that
presents the thoughts of a woman in love and in torment, who is trying to search for the key to a
mystery.
I was taken aback when it first happened. For them it was just as simple as ABC. They
merely abode by the Boss’ rules. By that time, the whole family were all aboard. Well,
almost all. Concerning the eldest brother I am not quite sure if he is involved in the affair,
which is about to be sorted out, hopefully.
The awful sounds and sickness inside me start every day at about 8 or 9 a.m., depending
on the season. Since I first lived here, I was up and about at 6 in the morning, unable to
sleep more than five hours a day...The management of the “business” will cost about
several thousand euro... How about telling the police? Nonsense! It might be about late,
yet I am not about to endure this state of affairs anymore.
Why doesn’t he speak about it clearly? What about the money they have offered him? Is it
all about funds? Am I just a guinea pig involved in a sort of wild experiment? If it is so, why
me? I feel I am above that. Above all, we are all human beings. I thought friendship and
love were above and beyond greediness. Anyway, I am above such mean people.
If the fatal instructions come from above, I will be down here waiting...They are not above
killing, which would go above their craziest backgrounds, I guess.
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I begged him to keep abreast of the commands he was told. He pretends to be absorbed in
his work, but I discovered it all by accident. Although he is an accomplished liar, he often
contradicts himself...Perhaps he is doing it all on his own accord... According to others, it is
no more than my insane perception; however, I am quite certain that everything is real! By
all accounts, most of them need psychiatric help; in fact, some of them, on a regular basis,
do visit a first-class doctor. At first, I believed his illness was of no account. On no account
must I receive a penalty for that...I was within an ace of becoming mad myself!
I won’t worry; I still have an ace up my sleeve even if I haven’t been able to get across to
him that we need help. Now, I do not hope for an act of God to stop this nightmare. I do
not think they are acting their age; they are acting the fool, acting up.
I was in the act of leaving, when he begged me to stay. Only yesterday, and also the day
before, he almost was caught in the act, so he put an act for me. As for me, actions speak
louder than words. I suppose someone is taking action for me; meanwhile, I will ad lib.
They could be in serious trouble as they do not know who is doing the dirty work from
Adam. I wouldn´t like to add insult to injury if all these episodes add up.
All the pain and suffering add up to several years, and, in addition to my problems, I must
keep my dearest ones out of the question. Maybe this is much ado about nothing, although
our affection and happiness have long gone adrift...
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Whether they --the ones doing the dirty work--are paid daily or in advance, either cash or
by exchanging favours, it is still to be displayed. In any case, it would seem that these
ghastly vibrations I feel are to someone’s advantage. There is little doubt that the whole
thing is a matter of money and jealousy, but those issues are not after these ones’ hearts. I
am fighting against the grain... It is like we have agreed on pretending that nothing is
going on... Did he agree to harm me in exchange for money? Does anyone in his family
disagree with the others? Who is ahead of the subject, I quite ignore it... I would like to get
ahead in life without hurting anyone else...
Honestly, I did not look ahead to the future when I first met him. I had resolved not to fall
in love again...The end of the affair is still up in the air... He was in love with me but now
he has been giving me the air...They did not like to see me walking in the air... I do hope
someone to sound the alarm for me; meanwhile, I will be on the alert... I have been
experiencing something out of the usual, sort of illness or anxiety, uneasiness, sweat,
abnormal heartbeat, inability to carry out even daily routines, fear, lack of sleep (those
voices inside my mind are part of the trick)... It seems to me that it is not known by all and
sundry, but only by a few of them... All at once everything turned different... In the end I
will be all dressed up and nowhere to go… All in all, his destiny won’t be better than mine.
I do not believe it is all the same for them; they should be frightened... All the worse for
them if they do not care... I am all for the one I love; he might be a victim, too. After all I
have been through, I am all in... For all I know, he regrets having told others about us...
Some of them are not all there; that could be an explanation... Why don’t they finish with it
once and for all? I must make allowance for his pressure and his inherited mental disorder.
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Somehow, they know all the angles about our private and intimate life... I have already
spent more than ten years trying to find a reason for this physical and mental torture; but
it is them who know all the answers... Perhaps in a not too distant future they will have a
lot to answer for.
His father was the architect of the place we are living in! Maybe they can have someone
put any poison through our water pipes or air-con system... I cannot breathe properly... I
feel so sick tired... pain on my chest... becoming dizzy... blurred vision... can... not go on.
*
*
*
SOMEONE IS TAKING CARE OF US… WHEREVER HE IS
Rafael Valdivia Núñez
Born in Málaga in 1972, Rafael Valdivia Núñez is working as a PE teacher at a Primary School in
Málaga. A student of English B2.2 here, he is fond of cycling, sports and cinema. He loves
reading, especially thrillers. It is his first time as an author of short stories, although he has
publications on Physical Education.
Let your soul handle your wrist and words will be written down by themselves in order to
make a story…
A young wife was saying goodbye to her husband, as usual, an early morning of
November. The weather was settled, bright red colours of the sunshine lighting the door
bell of the main entry, and nothing could make her think it wasn’t going to be another day
in their lives.
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“Remember our meeting tonight,” she said, while he was having a go at running
their old car. It finally made its stubborn mind up and started to work, with a hoarse cough
at the beginning, but smooth and fine in the end.
“Sure, mum,” he answered, while smiling, though he was actually damning his luck,
because of the farewell. He didn’t truly like watching his wife seeing him off daily.
Moreover, it was the issue of the car. It looked like a bomb about to go off every time it
started up.
In the sixties, it was far more daunting for a young couple to change their car than
we could think nowadays. They earned a little wage that hardly covered all their needs.
Although he was able to sell all the packages that filled the car, nothing could be done
about his ridiculous salary until next year, his contract said.
But the real challenge was every time he got his car so as to visit all those small
villages in the countryside. The expected became the unexpected when you were on the
move in dangerous road bends, and the changing weather of the autumn didn’t make you
feel at ease.
All those things were around his wife’s mind while she was doing her daily tasks at
home. This time there was an added issue: getting ready for the evening event. It could
have been like any other dinner between them and the other couple - just married and
coming after their honeymoon - but the game they were bringing was, by far, the most
scaring one she had ever heard of: the Ouija Board.
The more she thought about it, the more nervous she got. At that moment, the
phone rang out. “Oh! It’s my husband touching base at midday,” she said to herself while
answering. “So, everything is ok darling, isn’t it? I’m glad to listen to your news. You know
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I’m always worried when you’re on the road. Fine then, I’ll see you tonight, drive with
care.”
He didn’t like lying to his wife. His face showed it when he had just hung up. On the
other hand, he thought, “what was I going to tell her?” He was on the road again, but the
weather had changed, becoming unpredictable, biting wind shaking the trees all along the
narrow road, and he still had to visit the last village. That was his inner talk when
something started to happen… Miles and miles of driving made it impossible for him to
control the old car, the wind didn’t help… and the crashing was unavoidable.
…
Meanwhile, everything was ready at home, but her husband was still not coming.
She was starting to get worried when the bell rang out. “Finally, he’s got home safe and
sound!” She felt extremely disappointed when she realized that their guests were waiting
for her to open the door, even though she had to make an effort so that they wouldn’t
notice this.
…
It had just started to rain in the countryside, a dark grey layer of clouds had been
brought by the wind, and a lonely man was roaming around while thinking, “If only I had
paid more attention to the road, then I wouldn’t have crashed into that tree” and
mumbling, “How long will it take me to get in touch with my wife?”
According to his estimate, it would take him three hours on foot up to the next
village… too long for a worried woman, and there was the appointment in the evening, too.
What were his friends going to think?, he was wondering at the moment that a sudden
flash of lightning brought a real downpour.
…
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Her guests tried to relax the anxious wife when they knew what was happening. “I’m
sure he’ll be fine, and he’ll be coming in a while.” “Let’s play the Board.” The unconvinced
wife accepted in spite of the fact that she didn’t like the game and she wasn’t in the best
mood to play, either.
Although she didn’t want to, they spent some time wondering about what were
supposed to be ghosts and spirits, until she felt really fed up. “What nonsense!!” she
exclaimed, “and my husband isn’t coming.” The situation was taking her over, but her
friends asked her to give a chance to the board so that they could find him. “Why don’t you
ask where your husband is?”
…
After two hours walking through the rain, getting soaked to the bone, he was truly
exhausted… But all of a sudden he saw a bright light at the end of the road, ran to it, and
there it was, coming without warning: a road motel. “My salvation!! I’ll call home to let
them know I’m ok!!”
…
“Where is my husband?” she asked the board. And the stick started to point: Three,
five, six, four, one, seven…. “What is this?” All of them shouted at the same time. “Six
numbers! How shall we locate him with only six numbers?” “Maybe a code for a map, I
don’t know,” her friend ventured to guess. “And a telephone number? Let’s dial, we have
nothing to lose.”
--He got into the motel hall, and went to the reception desk. At the same time, the
motel phone started to ring. The receptionist took the phone and asked loudly, “Is there
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over here anyone called Richard? Someone called Rachel is asking for him.” It sounded
impossible, but real… They were both his name and his wife’s name.
“Rachel? – It’s Richard on the phone – Yeah, yeah, I’m fine, I had an accident, but
nothing serious, I’m ok, but… Wait, how did you guess I was here? I have just crossed the
entry door of this lost road motel… And how did you get the telephone number to make the
call…?”
The end
This story is based on true events that really happened a long time ago. I only
wanted to write it in memory of my father, who passed away twenty years ago.
*
*
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This year we would like to dedicate our annual publication to our friend and colleague
Mari Carmen Triviño Cañestro, who was an excellent English teacher at Málaga’s
Official Language School from 1989 to 2009, and an outstanding member of the panel of
judges of Málaga’s EOI Short Story Journal for many years.
We dedicate our Journal to our kind-hearted friend Carmen, who
wished to pass through our lives unnoticed, and yet she made a great
difference.
The moments we shared with you, we were rewarded with the greatest
friendship of all. Sometimes life gives us a prize and you are the most
valued for us.
THANK YOU for always having a kind look in your eyes, a tender smile,
an open ear, a nice word and a heart-felt compliment. Thank you for
your sympathy and for being there when we needed some help. Your
beautiful smile will always shine in our hearts.
THANK YOU for always giving your love to everybody around you,
relatives, friends, workmates and pupils. Because it’s giving love
how you stay alive forever… even when you’re gone.
Our beloved friend Carmen, you will always be on our minds and
you will live forever in our hearts.
Your friends and workmates
‘A true friend is difficult to find, very hard
to lose and impossible to forget’.
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Con la colaboración de
OXFORD
UNIVERSITY PRESS