We are not alone

in The Ink Well6 months ago (edited)

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   That afternoon, I was returning from seeing a girl. I got off at "La escalera" in Barrera, the bus stop closest to my house. It was about 6:30 pm. It was getting dark. I walked home thinking about my recent conquest: a young woman almost two meters tall, skinny, dark and a little crazy.

   On the way, I ran into J., an old friend. He was buying cigars at the bodega. I greeted him and waited for him to finish shopping.

   "I'm going to C.'s to get some tools for a job," he said, when they handed him the box of cigars. "Come with me.

   I agreed. I had no plans for that night.

   As we were about to arrive at our destination, I got a call. It was my mother.

   "Where are you?" she asked, sounding altered.

   "I just arrived in Barrera," I answered. "I'm going to C.'s for a while.

   "Your dad just had an accident on the freeway," she said. "I don't know where your brother is. He's not answering his phone. Come quickly to the house so you can keep an eye on the boys while I go see what happened to him.

   I don't remember what my response was, only that I had never heard my mother so worried. The call ended. I informed J. about what had happened and left almost running home.

   The blanket of night was falling, announcing misfortune. I arrived home agitated, as thousands of thoughts crossed my mind. When I saw my mother, I took a deep breath and calmed down. She was as scared as I was, but someone had to be strong at that moment.

   "They ran over your dad," she said, almost on the verge of tears, as she prepared to leave. "He was coming home from work and was run over at the bus stop.

   She asked me again to stay and take care of my sister and younger brother, but I refused. I am only a year older than my sister, so I thought she could also take care of the child. I asked her if she was willing to do it and she said yes. Years later, I can't stop thinking about how hard those hours of uncertainty must have been for her.

   The road took forever as we left the house, as if the stop was thousands of miles away. My mother walked in a hurry. At times, she tried to run, but I slowed her down and asked her to calm down. When we passed in front of the house of an old man very close to the family, he came out to meet us.

   "What happened, daughter? Where are you going in such a hurry? "he asked, seeing our worried faces.

   My mother stopped her steps.

   "They ran over Armando," she said, anguished.

   The old man changed his affable expression to one of deep sadness and concern.

   "Get in the truck," he said, "I'll take you.

   The van was parked on the street. The old man got in she opened the passenger door from the inside for my mother to get in. I climbed into the back and the van started. The wind was hitting my face and my heart was racing. I took a breath. Then I promised myself to stay calm.



   The stop was dark and lonely after dark. Only a shop near the stairway remained lit. Down below, on the highway, the only lights were those of passing cars. That night, however, a huge queue of cars bathed with their lights the inhabitants of the neighborhood, who had crowded on the highway to see what had happened.

   My mother came down the stairs in despair. I followed her, bewildered by the stares of neighbors with whom I had never exchanged words. We didn't have to push anyone aside to make our way through the crowd. It seemed everyone was waiting for us to arrive. In a matter of seconds, a path opened up with people on both sides to reveal my father's body in a pool of blood.

   My mother almost fainted at the sight of him and ran out to where he was. I could not believe it. My mind could not assimilate what my eyes were seeing. My mother began to cry inconsolably. People crowded around us. I bent down to try to reassure my mother and managed to see my father up close. I touched his body, as if to wake him up, but he was unresponsive. At that moment, I failed in my promise. A tear ran down my cheek and I cursed as I had never done before. I threw several punches against the asphalt, filling my fists with my father's blood. The pain in my chest was so great it was choking me.

   Then I remembered that I was not alone. A horde of onlookers had attended the spectacle organized by death, even though she had not warned anyone. I tried to think with a cool head and regained my composure. I stood up. My mother was still submerged in a sea of tears and someone else was beside her, I don't remember who. That allowed me to talk to H. and his father, who had taken the trouble to help divert all the cars that were driving on the highway at that moment.

   "Do you know what happened? "I asked.

   "A motorized vehicle that was coming without a light ran over him," said H.'s father, placing a hand on my shoulder.

   After a while, C. and J. showed up to join us. That night, half of Barrera was on the highway. People were coming and going. Voices mingled with the sounds of cars passing by on the other side of the road and those slowly moving forward in the queue.

   "The ambulance is on its way," said a lady I didn't know.

   I don't know how much time passed, but while we were waiting for the ambulance, I received two calls. The first was from the girl I met that day. She wanted to know why I wasn't answering her messages. I told her what happened and she didn't believe me. She even laughed, as if anyone could play with something like that. I hung up and didn't want to know anything more about her. The second was from my paternal grandfather. I hadn't seen him for years. We weren't the closest, but he was still my grandfather and I was still his grandson.

   "Hello, Junior, what happened? How come your dad just had an accident?

   I swallowed hard and answered as firmly as I could.

   "He got run over, Grandpa. He had just come home from work, crossed the highway and was hit by a motor vehicle with no lights on," I felt that my words were just an echo of what I had heard.

   "But what happened to him? Is he all right?

   I saw my father's body lying on the road and for the first time I noticed that he was not breathing. A lump formed in my throat.

   "He's dead," I said, almost without strength.

   Although later one of my uncles claimed that my father was just in shock from the accident and died because the ambulance did not arrive in time. In reality, it never arrived. If it hadn't been for my uncle getting tired of waiting and putting him in his car to take him to the nearest hospital, we would still be waiting for it. However, my uncle's efforts were in vain. My father died.



   The days that followed were just as painful. As we mourned my father's body, we were accompanied by our neighbors, friends, relatives - both near and far - and strangers who came to pay their condolences. The silences, the words of consolation, the hugs and the tears. The atmosphere was so charged with sadness that I felt overwhelmed.

   No one can know with certainty how important he or she is in the lives of others. My father was a hardworking, honest and honest man. An example to follow. After his departure, we were left adrift, as if someone had suddenly ripped the ground from under our feet. My siblings suffered. My cousins cried. My grandparents were grieving. My uncles were acting strong. My mother was devastated. She couldn't sleep. I cried nonstop. It hurt me to see my family in that state.

   "I want to die," said my mother, in tears, hours before leaving for the funeral. We were at my grandparents' house. One of my uncles tried to console her, but it was useless. "I would like to be buried with him," she added.

   His words caused me great sorrow. My parents had known each other since they were teenagers. They had been together for more than twenty years. I had lost a parent, but she had lost her life partner. Her grief was inconceivable. However, something inside me stirred when I heard her say that.

   "You can't die," I said, a little annoyed. "You have to be strong. We have to be strong. If you go, what will become of us? You must think of your children. My dad wouldn't have liked you to say that. We have to be strong," I repeated, trying to convince myself.

   My uncle made her see that she was right and she managed to calm down.

   In all that time, I had not allowed myself to cry again. My friends were worried about me. They all asked me to cry, but I don't like to cry in front of people. When we came home from the funeral, my mother locked herself in my grandmother's room and I took the opportunity to talk to her alone.

   "I want to cry," I said, my voice breaking, interrupting the silence that enveloped us, "but no matter how hard I try, I can't. The tears won't come. The tears won't come. And it's not because I didn't love Dad.

   She was sitting on the edge of my grandmother's bed. She asked me to lay my head on her legs and when I did she stroked my hair.

   "Your dad was like that too," she said, as tenderly as his sadness would allow, "he had a hard time crying and he didn't like to see others cry. But it's okay if you want to. Don't hold back. It was your dad who died, not a stranger.

   "I know," I said, unable to bear it any longer, accepting that my father was gone forever. The crying tore at my chest and the weight I felt disappeared as the tears flowed.

   In November, my father will have been dead for eleven years. He left behind a family that remembers him fondly. I miss him very much. When I go through difficult times, I think of all the efforts he made to give us a good future. I also remember my mother and my siblings, great examples of self-improvement. That time, life changed us completely, but we kept going. My father's death brought us closer together. I regret that he can no longer be with us physically and that he was not able to meet his grandchildren. We can only honor his memory and keep moving forward.


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   Aquella tarde, regresaba de ver a una chica. Bajé en «La escalera» de Barrera, la parada de autobuses más cercana a mi casa. Iban a ser las 6:30 p. m. Estaba oscureciendo. Caminé hacia la casa pensando en mi reciente conquista: una joven de casi dos metros de altura, flaca, morena y un poco alocada.

   En el camino, me crucé con J., un viejo amigo. Estaba comprando cigarros en la bodega. Lo saludé y esperé a que terminara de comprar.

   —Voy para donde C. a buscar unas herramientas para un trabajo —dijo, cuando le entregaron la caja de cigarros—. Acompáñame.

   Acepté. No tenía planes para esa noche.

   Cuando estábamos por llegar a nuestro destino, recibí una llamada. Era mi madre.

   —¿Dónde estás? —preguntó, sonaba alterada.

   —Acabo de llegar a Barrera —respondí—. Voy para donde C. un rato.

   —Tu papá acaba de tener un accidente en la autopista —dijo—. No sé dónde está tu hermano. No me contesta el teléfono. Ven rápido a la casa para que estés pendiente de los muchachos mientras voy a ver qué le pasó.

   No recuerdo cuál fue mi respuesta, solo que nunca había escuchado a mi madre tan preocupada. La llamada terminó. Le informé a J. sobre lo sucedido y me fui casi corriendo para mi casa.

   El manto de la noche caía, anunciando la desgracia. Llegué a casa agitado, mientras miles de pensamientos se cruzaban por mi cabeza. Al ver a mi madre, respiré hondo y me calmé. Ella estaba tan asustada como yo, pero alguien debía ser fuerte en aquel momento.

   —Atropellaron a tu papá —dijo, casi a punto de llorar, mientras se disponía a salir—. Venía llegando del trabajo y lo atropellaron en la parada.

   Me pidió nuevamente que me quedara a cuidar de mi hermana y mi hermano menor, pero me negué. Solo le llevo un año de diferencia a mi hermana, así que pensé que ella también podía hacerse cargo del niño. Le pregunté si estaba dispuesta a hacerlo y me dijo que sí. Años después, no puedo dejar de pensar en lo duras que debieron ser para ella esas horas.

   El camino se hizo eterno cuando salimos de la casa, como si la parada quedara a miles de kilómetros. Mi madre caminaba apresurada. A veces, buscaba correr, pero yo la frenaba y le pedía que se calmara. Cuando pasamos frente a la casa de un anciano muy cercano a la familia, este salió a nuestro encuentro.

   —¿Qué pasó, mija? ¿A dónde van tan apurados? —preguntó, viendo nuestros rostros preocupados.

   Mi madre detuvo sus pasos.

   —Atropellaron a Armando —dijo, angustiada.

   El anciano cambió su expresión afable por una de profunda tristeza y preocupación.

   —Suban a la camioneta —dijo—. Yo los llevo.

   La camioneta estaba estacionada en la calle. El anciano se montó en ella y abrió la puerta del copiloto desde dentro para que mi madre subiera. Yo subí a la parte de atrás y la camioneta arrancó. El viento golpeaba mi cara y mi corazón latía aceleradamente. Respiré. Luego me prometí mantener la calma.



   La parada era oscura y solitaria cuando anochecía. Solo un local cercano a la escalera permanecía alumbrado. Abajo, en la autopista, las únicas luces eran las de los coches al pasar. Sin embargo, esa noche una cola inmensa de carros bañaban con sus luces a los habitantes del barrio, que se habían aglomerado en la autopista para ver lo ocurrido.

   Mi madre bajó las escaleras desesperada. La seguí, desconcertado por las miradas de vecinos con los que nunca había intercambiado palabras. No tuvimos que apartar a nadie para abrirnos paso entre la multitud. Parecía que todos estaban esperando que llegáramos. En cuestión de segundos, se abrió un camino con gente a ambos lados para revelar el cuerpo de mi padre en un charco de sangre.

   Mi madre casi se desmaya al verlo y salió corriendo hacia donde estaba. Yo no podía creerlo. Mi mente no asimilaba lo que mis ojos veían. Mi madre empezó a llorar desconsoladamente. Las personas se aglomeraron a nuestro alrededor. Me agaché para tratar de tranquilizar a mi madre y logré ver a mi padre de cerca. Toqué su cuerpo, como si quisiera despertarlo, pero no reaccionaba. En ese momento, fallé a mi promesa. Una lágrima corrió por mi mejilla y maldije como nunca antes lo había hecho. Lancé varios golpes contra el asfalto, llenando mis puños con la sangre de mi padre. El dolor en mi pecho era tan grande que me asfixiaba.

   Luego recordé que no estaba solo. Una horda de curiosos había asistido al espectáculo organizado por la muerte, aunque ella no hubiera avisado a nadie. Traté de pensar con cabeza fría y recobré la compostura. Me puse de pie. Mi madre seguía sumergida en un mar de lágrimas y alguien más estaba a su lado, no recuerdo quién. Eso me permitió hablar con H. y su padre, quienes se habían tomado la molestia de ayudar a desviar todos los carros que circulaban en ese momento por la autopista.

   —¿Ustedes saben lo que pasó? —pregunté.

   —Un motorizado que venía sin luz lo atropelló —dijo el padre de H., colocando una mano sobre mi hombro.

   Al cabo de un rato, aparecieron C. y J. para acompañarnos. Esa noche, media Barrera se encontraba en la autopista. La gente iba y venía. Las voces se entremezclaban con los sonidos de los carros que pasaban por la otra vía de la carretera y los que avanzaban lentamente en la cola.

   —La ambulancia viene en camino —dijo una señora que no conocía.

   No sé cuánto tiempo pasó, pero mientras esperábamos a la ambulancia, recibí dos llamadas. La primera era de la chica con la que me vi ese día. Quería saber por qué no le contestaba los mensajes. Le conté lo que pasó y no me creyó. Incluso se echó a reír, como si alguien pudiera jugar con algo así. Colgué y no quise saber más nada sobre ella. La segunda fue de mi abuelo paterno. Tenía años sin verlo. No éramos los más apegados, pero seguía siendo mi abuelo y yo su nieto.

   —Aló, Junior, ¿qué fue lo que pasó? ¿Cómo es eso de que tu papá acaba de tener un accidente?

   Tragué saliva y respondí con toda la firmeza que pude.

   —Lo atropellaron, abuelo. Acababa de llegar del trabajo, cruzó la autopista y un motorizado que venía sin luces lo atropelló —sentí que mis palabras eran solo un eco de lo que había escuchado.

   —Pero, ¿qué le pasó? ¿Está bien?

   Vi el cuerpo de mi padre tirado en la carretera y por primera vez noté que no respiraba. Un nudo se formó en mi garganta.

   —Está muerto —dije, casi sin fuerzas.

   Aunque después uno de mis tíos aseguró que mi padre solo estaba en shock por el accidente y murió porque la ambulancia no llegó a tiempo. En realidad, nunca llegó. Si no hubiera sido porque mi tío se cansó de esperar y lo subió en su carro para llevarlo al hospital más cercano, todavía estuviéramos esperando por ella. Sin embargo, los esfuerzos de mi tío fueron en vano. Mi padre murió.



   Los días siguientes fueron igual de dolorosos. Mientras velábamos el cuerpo de mi padre, nos acompañaron nuestros vecinos, amigos, familiares —tanto cercanos como lejanos— y extraños que se acercaban para darnos el pésame. Los silencios, las palabras de consolación, los abrazos y las lágrimas. El ambiente estaba tan cargado de tristezas que me sentía abrumado.

   Nadie puede saber con certeza la importancia que tiene en la vida de otros. Mi padre era un hombre trabajador, honrado y honesto. Un ejemplo a seguir. Tras su partida, nos quedamos a la deriva, como si de repente alguien hubiera arrancado el suelo bajo nuestros pies. Mis hermanos sufrían. Mis primos lloraban. Mis abuelos estaban afligidos. Mis tíos se hacían los fuertes. Mi madre estaba destrozada. No podía dormir. Lloraba sin parar. Me dolía ver a mi familia en ese estado.

   —Me quiero morir —dijo mi madre, entre lágrimas, horas antes de salir para el entierro. Nos encontrábamos en casa de mis abuelos. Uno de mis tíos intentaba consolarla, pero era inútil—. Quisiera que me enterraran con él —añadió.

   Sus palabras me causaron una gran pena. Mis padres se conocían desde la adolescencia. Tenían más de veinte años juntos. Yo había perdido un padre, pero ella había perdido a su compañero de vida. Su dolor era inconcebible. Sin embargo, algo en mi interior se movió cuando la escuché decir aquello.

   —Tú no te puedes morir —dije, un poco molesto—. Tienes que ser fuerte. Tenemos que ser fuertes. Si tú te vas, ¿qué será de nosotros? Debes pensar en tus hijos. A mi papá no le hubiera gustado que dijeras eso. Tenemos que ser fuertes —repetí, intentando convencerme.

   Mi tío le hizo ver que tenía razón y ella logró calmarse.

   En todo ese tiempo, no me había permitido volver a llorar. Mis amigos estaban preocupados por mí. Todos me pedían que llorara, pero no me gusta llorar frente a la gente. Cuando llegamos del entierro, mi madre se encerró en la habitación de mi abuela y aproveché para hablar con ella a solas.

   —Quiero llorar —le dije, con la voz quebrada, interrumpiendo el silencio que nos arropaba—, pero por más que lo intento, no puedo. Las lágrimas no salen. Y no es porque no haya querido a papá.

   Ella estaba sentada en el borde de la cama de mi abuela. Me pidió que colocara mi cabeza en sus piernas y cuando lo hice me acarició el cabello.

   —Tu papá también era así —dijo, con toda la ternura que su tristeza le permitía—, le costaba mucho llorar y no le gustaba ver llorar a los demás. Pero está bien si quieres hacerlo. No te reprimas. Fue tu papá quién murió, no un extraño.

   —Lo sé —dije, sin poder aguantar más, aceptando que mi padre se había ido para siempre. El llanto desgarró mi pecho y el peso que sentía desapareció a medida que las lágrimas brotaban.

   En noviembre, mi padre cumplirá once años de haber fallecido. Atrás dejó una familia que lo recuerda con cariño. Me hace mucha falta. Cuando atravieso momentos difíciles, pienso en todo lo que se esforzó para regalarnos un buen futuro. También recuerdo a mi madre y a mis hermanos, grandes ejemplos de superación. Aquella vez, la vida nos cambió por completo, pero seguimos adelante. La muerte de mi padre nos hizo más unidos. Lamento que ya no pueda acompañarnos físicamente y que no haya podido conocer a sus nietos. Solo nos queda honrar su memoria y seguir avanzando.

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• Photography: I, II, III.

• Graphic resources: I, II.

• Design: Photoshop CS6.

• Translation: Deepl (free version)

• Fotografía: I, II, III.

• Recursos gráficos: I, II.

• Diseño: Photoshop CS6.

• Traducción: Deepl (versión gratuita)

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A very powerful, tragic story. I can't imagine how horrifying it must have been to cope with that day.

I find it so devastating that woman who lose their husbands (especially when they are so loved) are so floored by it they wish for death, forgetting they have children to look after.

Years later, I can't stop thinking about how hard those hours of uncertainty must have been for her.

I find this the most powerful literary technique here. The flash forward really shows your empathy for your sister and propels us into a future where you reflect on this life changing day. There's an author I like - Alistair Mac Leod - that often stops for this kind of reflection by saying 'even now', showing how long the impact lasts and how his writing is reflecting on the past.

Thanks for sharing.

At times like this, we don't think clearly. It is hard for anyone to lose someone who has been with you for half of your life.

When I wrote that part you quote, I didn't see it as a technique. It is simply a thought I have been living with for years. I appreciate the assessment.

Thanks to you for reading and commenting.

I can't even imagine all that you have felt writing this, because I have been devastated.
You are a great writer.

I have had a hard time doing it. I started to tell this story five years ago, but I couldn't finish it. This week I set out to do it. I needed to let it go.

Thank you for reading. A hug.

This is a very touching story and I can't imagine what it must've been like being in that situation.
Loosing anyone whether family of friends is not something easy, I hope your family continues to remain stronger and continue to support each other through it.

Thank you for reading and your good wishes. All the best to you.

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Thanks for the information.

Keep up the fantastic work @juniorgomez! Your dedication and hard work will pay off when you reach your target.

What a sad story my friend, it almost brought tears to my eyes imagining the whole scene and remembering when my uncle came to my house to tell me that a man on a motorcycle had run over my mother, she is fine.

How the recklessness of drivers can destroy a family for life and many times those responsible disappear and live as if they had stepped on an ant.

Sad but excellent way of telling it my friend, you leave me speechless 😢

It's hard to get that kind of news. I'm glad your mother is doing well.

It is a problem that there are reckless drivers. There should be more awareness about this issue.

Thank you for reading, dear friend. A hug.

A big hug for you, my friend, and for all your family.

Utterly compelling account of a raw, devastating moment in your life. It’s really difficult to commend your emotive writing because of the absolute horror of your father’s accident. Nevertheless, your writing draws the reader in and captures their empathy; few will leave this story with dry eyes.

I appreciate the assessment and your honest comment. Best regards.

I cannot imagine how hard this must’ve been for you. Losing a father is absolutely devastating, but the manner in which you lost him begs compassionate, emotional empathy.
Your story will be selected by The Ink Well if you remove the duplicate paragraph :

I got off at "La escalera" in Barrera, the bus stop closest to my house. It was going to be 6:30 p. m. It was getting dark. I walked home thinking about my conquest: a twenty-something, almost six feet tall, skinny, dark and a little crazy.

Thank you for reading and for your kind comment.

I hadn't realized that. I have fixed it.

Best regards.

I can imagine how hard that moment must have been. One should fire loved ones for such catastrophic causes.

Your writing is very heartfelt, friend Junior, you leave the reader captivated with each paragraph conveying the sadness of the moment.

A hug!

Thanks for reading and commenting, my friend. A hug.

How strong is this story. You brought me to tears as I was reading. It is unfortunately that due to the irresponsibility of another, a valuable life is snuffed out. I send you a big hug, I'm sure your father was a great man and that he takes care of you from another plane. @juniorgomez

Thank you very much for your kind comment, dear friend @vezo. A hug.

Dear @juniorgomez, I'm so sorry for that painful loss. Your story touched my heart deeply. The emotions you have poured into your words cut deeply with everyoe who has felt the pain of losing a loved one. Finding love in the presence of our loved ones is a faster way of healing.

Thank you for reading and for your kind words, dear friend. Greetings.

My pleasure dear friend. Greetings to you.

A painful read, brother. You also writed it beautifuly. I am glad the good of those who are gone keep living through us.

Thanks, bro. They will always live in our memories. Greetings.

Hello dear @juniorgomez. This story was heartbreaking, it put a knot in my heart. I feel like you had a catharsis with it. Remembering such sad and hard times for you and your family with so many feelings involved.
Having to show strength when inside the sadness and grief is there.
A hug

Hello, dear @popurri. You're right, it was a catharsis I had been putting off for a long time. Thank you very much for your words. A hug.

Junior, amigo, no sé que decirte!! Estoy llorando luego de leer tu texto. Decir que lo lamento no alcanza, no ayuda, no dice nada. Sin embargo, desde aquí te envío un abrazo fuerte fuerte que consuele y acompañe. A pesar de los años, imagino tu herida y la vida es muy corta para tanto dolor. Nuevamente, entre mi pecho y mis brazos, tú.

Entiendo a qué te refieres. No hay palabras para consolar la pérdida de un ser querido. Sin embargo, agradezco mucho que me hayas dejado este comentario. Un abrazo fuerte para ti también, querida amiga.

Congratulations, @juniorgomez!
Your story has been selected as one of the best of the week and is part of the Magazine's 121th Featured Author
https://peakd.com/hive-170798/@theinkwell/the-ink-well-highlights-magazine-121

Thank you. It is an honor.