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Gotzon Garate Goihartzun > Extracts

Narrative (short story and novel)

A STORY CAN SAVE A LIFE |

A STORY CAN SAVE A LIFE

My hope had been snuffed out like the candles on the altar. There was not the slightest glimmer of light in my life. I was in need of money and love. Everything in the world seemed repugnant to me. My swirl of internal anxieties carried me here, there and everywhere.

I was scared, craving for love and brimming with fear. There, in fact, lay the essence of my anxiety. I needed people, yet I didn't know how to gain their friendship.

There was a time when I was surrounded by numerous friends who really loved me. But my brusqueness, my insolence gradually scared them away until I ended up lonelier than a widow's sigh.

I became incapable of doing the jobs that I used to do easily. I ended up a nervous wreck.

-Zaldua? said the boss of the factory, as if he were talking to a machine?, you'd better leave our factory. You'll get severance pay.

In ten days I had frittered away all my money.

I had no relatives. I had never known my parents. I was abandoned at an orphanage when I was a newborn baby.

I walked down the street. The cars and people were moving to and fro without ceasing. I could not understand that din. They could not care less about my soul's affliction. Did they and I belong to the same world, I wondered?

I had only one peseta left. I went up to a sweet seller. I bought two and put one in my mouth. I sucked it as I made my way home deep in thought.

I was not going to see those streets again. Eternal silence instead of the daily bustle and commotion. I had only one friend at that moment: my shotgun. It was in my room within reach, waiting for me.

My stomach ached as it turned to stone. By the time I reached my house my eyes were brimming, my head was spinning and my legs were shaking. Inside me my soul did not appear to have succumbed to the bitterness of life. But, it was no use; I had taken a firm decision.

I lived in a suburb of the city. I lived, or rather half lived, in a filthy house that both inside and outside was better suited to animals than to people. My garret under the roof was, however, the most miserable of those living quarters.

I started to go up the stairs.

"In a minute's time all will be silent. No more tears; life's anguish blotted out. Peace, peace, eternal rest".

My stomach churned. I began to throw up before I got to the third floor. I gripped the banisters tightly.

The time it took to get to the fourth floor seemed eternal.

There on the landing on the right, next to the door, sat a little girl completely curled up having a nap. She was about five years old.

Bidding farewell to life I took the sweet out of my pocket without a word and put it in her hand. I went up the first step towards my garret.

-Thanks, Mister!

I felt a gust of fresh air in my nostrils. I stopped to look at the child.

-Mum's at work? she said in passing, as if she was talking to herself rather than to me, while she unwrapped the sweet and turned in round and round in her fingers?. I don't know when she's coming.

A pause. The child stared at me as I stared back.

-Mister ?she asked, as she got up and moved towards me?, do you know any stories?

I don't know how long it took me to answer.

-Yes, I do; very nice ones, too.

-Tell me one, then. Come on, please!

The child followed me into my room. I sat down and buried my head in my hands. I burst into tears. The tears came right from my heart.

The child was alarmed. Then she wanted to take my hands away from my face.

-Why are you crying?

I didn't reply. She started crying, too.

I dried the child's tears and my own. Taking the child onto my knees, I began to tell stories and not for a moment did I tire.

All of a sudden a noise from below.

-Your mum's back. Off you go, little angel!

-But you'll tell me another story tomorrow, too, won't you?

I couldn't hold back my tears.

-Yes, tomorrow, too ? I replied.
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