Beyond the trees - Gustavo Di Pace

Texto en español: "Después de los árboles".

Traducido al inglés por Calla Smith.

That night the house was full of people.
That same house.
It was as though the mouth of a wolf was swallowing all of us, and later the hugs the doorbell ringing again and again.
Yes, the nights of '75 were like that, and especially that night, full of mystery, as though memory drew a new whirlpool every second.
Sometimes I don't know if I see it all with the eyes of then or the eyes of now.
Mom is always in her bedroom, sometimes I don't even see her, and I make my way through the house as I always have, from the bedroom to the kitchen, from the living room to the dinning room.
I remember that night darkness had invaded the neighborhood. Poly, the maid, raised the blinds so that the splendor of the moon would drift into the room.
Once again I see the faces, and those of the people that came later. Because that was how it was then, a constant movement of shadows that shifted in the half-light, from the light to the candles.
"What is it, Mom?" I must have asked.
"Nothing, Leandro, nothing." And that seemed to span everything. Even the furniture seemed to avoid me, and the doorbell rang again.
I felt left out of everything that happened. That must have been why I wanted to hide. And then:
"Daddy, when are we going to walking until beyond the trees?"
"Tomorrow, little Leandro, now we have to go home, but when we go, you'll see the horizon. Ug! Look at the ant hill, look!"
Later, I remember that the people in the living room started to go.
Yes, in that same living room with the same pictures and the same furniture.
From my hiding place, between the folds of the curtains in my parent's bedroom, I could hear their footsteps like whispers. I also heard my mother's voice reach me. She was calling me, and it was a return to normal nights. Although she hardly kissed me. I searched for her, but, silent, she was already going back to all those people that didn't stop hugging her while I was alone with Poly, drying off my cheek. She told me that we should eat, and when the door finally closed, a current of cold swept in and the candles went out. A strangely cold air in the middle of summer. I still remember Poly swearing in the darkness. And then:
"Daddy, you promised!"
"Yes, little Leandro, I know."
Some cups of water and my mother's box of pills tell me that she got the kitchen, in the hallway.
Walking in the inner patio I keep remembering.
Now we are with Poly again, sitting at the table. I could hear the noise of the silverware and I ate as though my tongue was anesthetized. And by the flames of the candles I looked at the shifting things.
A little later, when I went to bed, Poly covered me with the sheet and kissed me. I asked her where Mom and Dad were.
But she told me that she didn't know, that they were coming soon. She seemed nervous, and I was once again conscience that everyone seemed to abandon me.
Later, the doorbell sounded again.
I thought that it was Mom and Dad, so I got up and I went to greet them.
But it was a peddler and it was day.
I go back little by little into my memory, like someone who gets into bed slowly because the sheets are cold because of the cold air.
And I lower the doorframe and at night my mother appeared again. Her eyes were swollen. She came towards me and hugged me. I remember that I protested. Everyone had been hugging me since the day before.
Later she asked if I wanted to sleep with her.
And everything keeps happening as I find boxes of pills in the patio, in the garage, in the flowerpots.
And my mother is still in her room.
That night, while I watched the front field from the window, I listened to my mom sleep. First while she embraced me, later, as the hours passed, she slept by my side. I watched her; it was interesting to see how the sheets that covered her body moved with her breath. Later, I tried to see the far trees, the ones that my father had promised that we world visit to see the horizon, but the spell of sleep or perhaps the night made it impossible.
When I woke up, mom had left. I got up and I asked Poly, but she never knew anything, only stroked my head.
And Dad wasn't there either.
Why did they leave me alone? Why did everyone avoid me?
And then I realize that those same places of yesterday and today hold the same feeling as that day alter the night of the mouth of the wolf, when the house seemed to have gotten bigger and I ran and ran in the patio but I couldn't seem to reach the end.
I head toward the living room and I look out the window and I see the immense field and the far away trees, the same ones from my memory.
And I am still here.
Prisoner of an impulse, and impulse that takes me outside the house, outside myself. I open the door and decide to go towards those trees.
In that instant, while my mother is still in the bedroom.
And I cross the asphalt street and I walk on that path, looking at the land that I once walked with my father.
The sky is grey, I can see it with the same eyes that look inside, and the rain surprises me. I see the infinite dark clouds fuse themselves into one.
And while I continue through those virgin pastures and the land of colors, I once again look back and see the house transform itself, and I realize that distances change everything, that things take whatever shape your imagination gives them.
I see the subtle groove and its circumstances, and I am surrounded by anthills, big ones and little ones, anthills with hundreds and hundreds of entrances and exits.
After so much time has passed I am here, walking in the same field that we walked together.
"Like you promised me, Dad, but you left, left us alone, why did you go so soon, why, Daddy, why."
I start to run while I watch the threatening clouds. I pant like a rabid dog and, as I advance, the house gets smaller and the trees get bigger. It's a place like any other while the thicket that covered the horizon invades my vision.
And while I get closer I can feel the bark of those old plant friends, and I can smell their stems, and I can hear the song of their branches and their leaves in the wind and the rain that is coming.
And when I am almost there I see my father once again, coming closer and looking at me with those distant eyes; I can see him as clearly as I see the trees, every image a part of a whole that joins together, and he waves goodbye, dressed in his light blue pajamas, the ones that were too small for him. He looked so funny. And I tell him in the middle of the forest " "Dad, I'm here, I came, Daddy, I came", and he smiles and waves again.
I look farther and I see what it was that he promised me.
The rain has not come; instead, a happy sun illuminates the sky, there are no clouds, just a blue like I had never seen before. I start to go back. Slowly, very slowly. And while I return through the virgin pastures Suddenly, a few meters from the house, I see my mother move like a mirage. She looks so different from my memories. She watches me come and I wave.
She takes her time to respond. She doesn't seem to understand anything. I am only a few meters away, about to cross the street.
She has a red handkerchief that she uses to cover her hair, she looks so funny.
When I arrive, she looks at me. I realize that it has been a long time since we met eachothers eyes. Her eyes are small, and I hug her and hug her and we go back in the house.
But she is upset; I can see it in her hesitant steps while she moves toward the bedroom. "When Poly was here, this didn't happen," she says.
And I say, no, no, while I gather the glasses of water and the pill boxes.

Gustavo Di Pace

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