There was nothing motivating Bruno after his stay in Banderleng; a small field far from the city that Bruno and his family used to go to rest the mind, the body and sometimes to take distance from the noisy crowd of Cleighton Cark. He had planned all year to make a trip to Bahia de los Santos, a small town located in the west of the country. In Bahia, Bruno had a first cousin who had long time ago become independent. Whenever Bruno considered that he needed to take a "break from his family" he would go to Bahia to his cousin's house because his cousin worked most of the time and at the time they were together, his cousin was not very talkative but shut-in. Bruno had named his cousin's house after "the refuge" since it was the only place where he felt comfortable to reconnect with himself and with a little peace without having to follow a conversation with feigned interest or respond uncomfortable and trivial questions that did not interest him at all.
‘Hey there, Simon!’ Bruno greeted his cousin when he opened the door of
‘Hi, cousin!’ – said Simon. – ‘You arrived earlier than expected.’
‘I took a taxi from the terminal. It sicks me to have to takea bus. And I hate
to be all squeezed with bags and people pushing you aside, belching you in
your face, spitting you when sneezing or not covering their mouths when
‘It's okay. Come in! Make yourself at home - said Simon. ‘And be
welcome.Let me carry those bags for you’
‘No, no. Not heavy. Besides, I brought over just what I’m gonna need to
get by for a few days. I don’t want to be a nuisance’
‘But you don’t bother me at all, dude- his cousin protested a little irritated
by the comment- We are family, right?
‘That it seems. Mind if I take the usual room?’
Bruno dropped the bags in a corner of the small guest room, lay down on bed looking up and closed his eyes for a moment. The room smelled confinement and humidity. It was likely Simon would never open the windows to air out the room or he would not have time for that or lacked will to do it. Bruno fell asleep in a matter of seconds. A faint smile appeared on the corner of his mouth; he was having a dream. His best friend, Juan Pablo Hussen, was putting his school things away in his racksack as the bell had rung and all students were hurrying to run away from school to their houses. For some reason, Bruno had been placed in the back of the room away from his best friend. The strangest thing was that ten years ago Bruno had finished high school and that Juan Pablo had met him in college when they were both doing their degree in Chemistry. They both got along well from the first day of class and since then, they had done everything together; going out to nightclubs, walking around downtown, going to church or preparing for the final tests. In the dream, however, his friend (they were once friends too), Juan Pablo had simply put his school things away and left without waiting up for him, his best friend, Bruno. Bruno tried to reach him out but Juan Pablo walked on long strides and the wave of scattered students blocked the way to the outside that prevented him from reaching out his friend. Bruno's heart sank. Had he felt like crying? As a matter of fact, Juan Pablo no longer had time for trivialities like a friendship with Bruno. His friend was lost in the crowd quickly while Bruno stood near the railing, that led directly to the ground floor, stunned and a tear thread about to slip down his cheek. Why was his friend acting so indifferently?
Bruno woke up frightened; he was bathed in sweat and his heart was beating at a slightly irregular rhythm as if it were going to stop working at such force of impact it beat. He took a look the clock on the bedside table and it read six thirty in the afternoon. He quickly got up from bed and went in the bathroom to rinse his face. For a minute or so, he gazed at himself in the worn mirror hanging from a nail on the wall. He looked at every inch of his body and, when his gaze met the one of the guy looking back at him from the other side of the mirror, he remained inert for a minute; in his head Juan Pablo still appeared sneaking into the crowd without him. Why did it have to happen right now? Why Juan Pablo? They had not seen each other for eight years, and Bruno knew nothing about the boy's current life except that he was now living with his girlfriend and that could no longer remember his name. He hit the wall hard; his knuckles had gone purple. He did not feel the pain of the impact of his fist against the wall until his anger just diminished. His cousin knocked on the door to ask him if he was okay and Bruno told him that a couple of his hygiene belongings had fallen onto the floor and that it was nothing. His cousin did not insist and left.
‘CALM DOWN, BRUNO’ he yelled furiously, his face red in anger. ‘CALM DOWN YOU FUCKING PRICK’
He had lowered the voice down so as to avoid dragging his cousin back in the bathroom asking what was wrong with him; but nonetheless his voice full of anger came out of his mouth with as much violence as sadness Bruno had inside himself.
‘You knew you suck at keeping a friendship. You knew that IDIOT would be “IDIOTIZED” at the first skirt lifted, legs fully exposed. That's the way people like to be. And if you thought your "little buddy" was the exception’ he went on ‘you thought it so wrong, pal. Horribly WRONG. Your friend changed your friendship for that moron’s girly love and now you are the leftovers and the last resort of those who want to use you when they feel like it…
He stopped talking. He knew that when the wave of slights was unleashed it was difficult to stop it. He stopped for a moment and thought about it twice before doing something he might regret doing. He looked at himself in the mirror, washed his face again and noticed how the fury on his face framed his cheeks and eyes. His lips trembled but he was determined not to give in to his rage and slights he had on the tip of his tongue but that he had decided to drown, at least for the time being. Then Bruno left the bathroom, went into his cousin's guest room, grabbed a sweater and walked out quickly.
‘Be right back’ said Bruno to his cousin casually.
‘Got it’ responded his cousin who was now in the dining room reading a comic by Spider-man.
The church that Bruno was heading to was about twenty-five minutes from his cousin's house. It was very brief but enough time he’d have out to be all by himself while he thought and looked at the nature that kept him calm and far from his truculent thoughts.
Bruno was not a practiser; He did not like to go to the church much even though he considered himself a Catholic. On many occasions, when he felt angry like he was now or shaken by his deep sorrows, he went to church. There was silence and he found the peace he could not find anywhere else. He sat on one of the benches in the back of the small church and let things take their course…
Next, he felt something like relief, peace and the desire to cry, all these emotions combined at the same time. He contemplated one of the statues of the Virgin Mary holding Jesus child and next, a tear slid down his cheek.
"Hold me, mother. Hold me tight the way you hold your Son, Jesus. I don’t like this world," he thought.
Then a young priest approached him and asked Bruno if he could sit next to him. Bruno recognized that he was the parish priest of the church because of the clothing.
‘Go ahead, father. Do sit down’
The priest (who must not have been more than thirty years old, according to Bruno's calculation) sat next to him.
‘Our father will always have a place for us’ said the father. His voice conveyed peace and serenity; it was as if a song came from the deepest of his mouth.
‘Yes, I appreciate your words very much’
Bruno's voice came out sharp and cold from his mouth. He stood up to leave but the young priest intercepted him; he had said something that Bruno was touched by so intensely.
‘Crying is not a sin. When you cry, he cries long with you. When you suffer, he suffers along with you. But you never suffer a storm all by yoursel. Never without him’
‘You are very kind but I don’t really feel like talking.’
‘Sometimes it's good to talk, boy. What is your name?’
‘You are not from around here, are you?’
‘That I assumed. I’d never seen you around before.’
‘I was ‘bout to leave, anyway, father. Don’t wanna make you waste your time on me.’
‘Having a talk is not wasting time’, said the priest calmly.’It's like when you empty a container because it's full. You see, when you load a container with water that is already full, the water starts to fall down the side because it is a container and can not receive more water than it already has. Think that our body is like a container and that the sorrows, miseries and pains we carry, sometimes fill up our whole body and when our body can not receive more emotions, we get sick, we are down, we no longer feel like living or we just abandon ourselves’.
Bruno did not want to cry. He really hated crying in front of other people and what’s more, if those people were complete strangers. But he could not help it. Not anymore. He had not been far from breaking crying before the young priest approached. And the words that he issued, had only been the trigger to release the whirlwind of emotions he had been repressing for a long time.
‘It’s okay’ said the priest again calmly.’ Let yourself be invaded. And let go of that grief that overwhelms you, boy. Just let it go...’
It was not necessary for the young priest to finish saying what he intended to; two threads of tears had slid down his red cheeks. Bruno lowered his head and could not resist it anymore. It was in vain to continue containing what it was for then irrepressible. It was difficult for him to breathe; it was not him but his own impulse and pride deciding finally to give in. Bruno was now crying. The young priest patted him on the back and then said:
‘It is not the time, yet’
Bruno raised his head and looked astonished at the priest. He was flabbergasted at the illogical and superfluous comment the priest had said. What did he mean by “it is not the time yet”. Did the priest think Bruno would continue to flee? Then, at last he understood. He knew exactly what he meant.
‘Thank you for listening to me, father. Guess I gotta got now.’
Bruno wiped his tears off with the sleeve of his T-shirt and walked quickly through the main door of the small church. He walked about a kilometer; he was crying and cursing very loudly. The echo of his voice reproduced again and again making it clear that this was not a dream nor part of something he was imagining. Bruno was alone, shouting, insulting and giving in to his anger. He kept walking and then stopped stood when he saw a small lake. Bruno took off his shoes and dropped them somewhere near. He approached little by little to the shore of the small lake and it was then when the words of the young priest echoed in his memory.
‘It is not the time, yet’
He wiped his tears off once more with the dry sleeve of the shirt that had not been used yet. He let himself be dragged away by the peace of those still waters that awaited him affably. He walked up stealthily as he became convinced the decision he had made several days ago was complete madness and that it had only been the result of an impulse and a wrong decision.
‘It is not the time, yet’ repeated the boy. He went deeper into the depths of the small lake and let himself be enveloped by its calm water. He went to the surface and dripped the water off his hair. He looked up and saw a clear and effusive sky.
‘IT’S NOT THE MOMENT, YET" "IT'S NOT THE MOMENT, YET" "IT'S NOT THE MOMENT, YET’ it kept going.
‘Then it is not’ he said to himself and considered once again verdict he had concluded.
They would try to persuade him. They would say he just wanted to get attention. They would treat him as if he was insane. Or they may be after him all the time, tracking down his steps wherever he decided to go and taking away his privacy. He could not give a sign of what he intended to do. That is why he had fled. He needed to be at ease with his own choice.
But that was not how that should be. It was not the time or the way out of it. Bruno had changed his mind and decided that it was best to let the course of time lead him and not Bruno lead the time. But under no circumstances would he talk about the decision he had made. He would never dare to he wanted to commit suicide at sea. His deepest wish was to die in the depth of the sea.
“HOPE IS LIKE THE FLAME OF A CANDLE. IF YOU DO NOT WATCH IT, IT MIGHT TURN OFF. AND IF IT IS TURNED OFF, THERE WILL BE ONLY DARKNESS"
Original title; "El lago de todas las penas"
Original title; "El lago de todas las penas"
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