Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Achieved goals

Posted: October 11, 2016 by jennroig in English, Fiction

She’s got it. She’s there, finally where she wanted to be, doing what she wanted to do. By herself. No one gave it to her.


And now she faces the terrifying question, what’s next?

That’s how addicts might feel, she thinks. So much anticipation, but that feeling of being high lasts almost nothing. Why happiness doesn’t last longer? Why doesn’t it linger?

She wonders if there’s someone truly happy.

No one is there either to help her understand why happiness lasts so little.

And then there’s that sadness. Sneaky sadness that hid when she was running, and busy, and working, and surviving, gasping air to not drown and struggling to make ends meet… only to find that sadness again, finally, when she should be enjoying the here, and the now.

And she tries to figure where the sadness comes from, of from the outside, or if it’s always there inside of her. Who could tell her. Who could know her better than herself.

But she’s in an island. She run from an island only to arrive in another. And both were empty. There are many people. But not a single person for her.


Maybe that´s life, sailing from an island to another. Maybe that thing of enjoying the journey is true after all. The journey is holding the wheel steady, keeping the course, pulling the ropes, resisting the current, the wind against, despite exhaustion or disbelief. Then arriving is facing the void. The empty island. Or even worse. The island is not quite how she imagined or hoped for.


Damned hope.

Have a child, Mother whispers.

Have a lover, Father yells.

But the eyes of her child are fading away in her imagination. The possibility of a child. The not quite getting to know what could the color of her child’s eyes be.

And love passes by. At this point she already discovered that falling in love is fatal, mortal, infinite… and then well, you jump over it, or you fall even lower, out of love.

Candle… Castle… Lies… Truth

She´s realizing that life is better when is lived against the clock. Like sex, that was never as great as when tides were about to destroy a sand castle, or a candle was about to consume itself.candle

We only have the time until the waves destroy the castle… And then they made love. In the middle of nowhere. Far from the lighthouse, them two. And she did everything she could to make him happy, she was so careful not to harm his delicate skin. She was the balm when he was in crisis. He always returned for something that she could never quite understand. one day she listened, I want to be in love and love doesn’t come to me with you, I don’t love you. It was when the truth destroyed her.

sadnessWe are protected by the circle of light as long as the candle lasts, then there will be nothing… Just the anguish that makes us both. And she let him lay with her while the flame lighted the old room. And she let him love her, for a while, because everything around seemed blurry. He was the balm to her crises. She always returned, for something that she doesn’t quite understand. Because one day she saw him between his fiancee and his mother, then she realized that lies had pointy ends and she could bleed.

Much later, when she was asked forgiveness, she still found a way to blame herself.

She’s entering that age when she is old enough to have memories starting to fall into perspective, but not old enough to start to forget.

Damned you, Hope.


Three sisters

Posted: December 6, 2015 by jennroig in English, Fiction
Tags: , , ,

Three women in one frame. They could be family, mother, daughter and aunt. They could be just friends babysitting a girl. Or they could be three sisters from different mothers.

three women park

The girl, disengaged from the adults, could be looking for some lost item. Perhaps a wrist watch given by her father for getting good grades in school. Or she could be just trying to keep up, to reach the same spot where the older sister is. The beautiful sister , the one with a career, who visits a couple of times a year and who doesn’t get along all too well with dad. But dad speaks well about her in his own way. Somehow he always make it sound like she should follow those steps, her oldest sister’s steps. Unlike the middle daughter, pregnant of a man dad doesn’t particularly approve.

But there’s something about her oldest sister that pushes her away. Not that she doesn’t love her, because she certainly does, it’s her sister. But it’s in her eyes. In a way like every time she looks at her she doesn’t really see her. Like she was always bored and wishing to leave. She never asks her about else other than school, and even then for only a second, before she loses interest again. The youngest sister doesn’t get that vibe from her middle sister. In fact, she has taken the girl with her to buy stuff for the baby. She has felt the baby kicking in her sister’s tummy. She’s going to be an aunt and that’s exciting.

Maybe that closeness between a mother to be and her younger sister is because she understands, better than anyone, how does it feel to be measured against such high standards, how much it hurts not to be loved by who she is, but rather being an experiment, another chance to make right whatever went wrong with the first failed trial. That’s what her sister is, a failed trial. It took time for her to understand that she wasn’t really trial number two, because she’s a different person therefore she deserves to be regarded as unique trial, whether failed or not. It took her time in therapy, and finding her husband, who helped her to find herself when looking at the mirror. Herself. A discovery that gave her so much relief. It’s relieving to know that she didn’t have a chance to win that race, because she’s not her older sister, she’s herself. And she loves her husband so much, against all judgments and disapproval, despite the age difference, no matter that he has two previous marriages with two other kids. Right now he’s with her, she’s the center of his world. It feels so great to be at the center of a world. That´s why it breaks her heart to see her little sister, knowing that she doesn’t get it yet, that she can’t win that race, she can’t even run it as it is.

It could be that the middle sister can see through older sister´s walls to see that she’s not really detached, she just can’t be like their younger sisters. She can’t avoid an immense boredom when they try to tell her about baby showers, or matching shoes and purses, of father’s schedule for taking the pills for his heart conditions. God knows she could give her blood for her sister, she would take a bullet for her but she can’t properly listen. Her middle sister, actually, she’s not so sure how does she really feel for the little one. She’s so different, so not part of her memories and so much a child of a middle-age-crisis. And she listen to her speaking that dad has the pictures of her in a vegetable costume for the last school’s stupid play. A vegetable. And she will have to smile when they’ll get back home and father will show the pictures in the cell phone. A vegetable. She was never in a play, she wouldn’t have time in the middle of all those academic contests, advanced classes. She figured out by herself that Santa didn’t really exist, and she got yelled when she told her sister. Her middle sister. Her sister.

But they came together to the park because someone had to take the girl for a walk, now that the father is in mandatory health leave, and doctors recommend not to abuse with effort. But later the middle sister will have a doctor’s appointment for a baby check up and the husband can’t go with her for the day. And the oldest sister doesn’t want her sister to me alone, even though if everything seems to be going well with the pregnancy. They will take the girl along for lunch, then to the doctor’s office, then back to father´s home. And the day will be over. Until next time.


Posted: December 5, 2015 by jennroig in English, Fiction
Tags: ,

It’s coming to all, it’s a matter of when.

margo in central park

Margo’s on her way back home, walking the 5th uptown, after buying presents for Christmas. The day is fading. There’s a chilling wind but it feels nice. The colors of the autumn remind her of Peter, in college, playing his harmonica in the park. Always in the same bench in central park. Why would she think of Peter now? It’s been almost twenty-five years. She can’t quite remember his face, and that makes her stomach twitch. She can only see him sitting, in a shinny morning, with a big smile but… what was the color of his eyes again? It’s been too long, apparently, and those memories are also starting to fade.

Why Margo deviated from her way home, why did she enter the park instead of keep going straight ahead through 5th, it’s a question that not even she could have answered with entire certainty. It was rather an impulse. Maybe in the back of her head she wanted to see that bench again, although that didn’t mean anything really. That memory of Peter, so unexpected, didn’t mean more than that, an inexplicable moment of the brain, uncontrollable, therefore meaningless. The reality was at home, where Edward, her husband, was waiting with Caitlin and Mary Jo, their daughters that were visiting for Christmas.

Margo must have entered the park by the 72nd, because one of the guys from the carts in front of the Metropolitan, that kind of knows her from the distance and thinks she’s a beautiful and elegant lady, too bad that out of his league, he would remember her walking by. And he did not. Or that’s what he said when the police came asking the morning after.

sunset CP

The wind was chilling and the sun was almost set, and still the street lamps were enough to illuminate the main venues. But the bench was in a hidden spot, on top of a soft cliff, that Peter liked for the view and the peace. The bench was there. Exactly in the same spot. Because nothing really changes even after more than two decades. She wouldn’t have sit, or that’s what Edward thinks. Although he doesn’t really understand anything of what has happened or could have happened.

Margo climbs the soft hill with careful steps, not because she feels limited by her high-heel boots but rather because she has both hands busy carrying the bags with gifts. The view is amazing at that moment, with the sun down and the night starting and all the lights. Like being in an island in the middle of the city. Now the memory of Peter is much precise, his eyes were green.

And she hears a noise, something like a branch that breaks, or a step over dry grass. Margo doesn’t turn. She doesn’t have the time. There’s a shot. There’s pain and burning for a second flat. And then there’s no more.

Or the lack of it…


Gravity is technically a force. Actually the most powerful force in the universe, holding planets and stars on course. The reason why they connect gravity with seriousness, in crimes, it’s because there is also gravity in intention. With purpose a route is set, a path that can be walked step by step, toward a core that draws us, preventing us from hesitating, from taking a turn, from thinking it twice, from floating away. Indecisiveness is like floating away, when the core has lost strength, or when the core is there no more.

tree rootsI have done my backpack, and then undone it again. Feeling that your backpack stares back at you is a good sign of floating. Just floating. Not even away. Then I discover: that´s why plants have roots.

Without purpose, the way to stay on the ground is having roots. Or at least an anchor that ties you to the port, while the moment comes to sail away. Sail to another destiny, to another harbor, or simply to a shipwreck.

woman triggeredThere’s gravity on projects, and a migrant tends to take a path following a project. The project could be survival, or love, or change. But what happens once we are passed survival and we are supposed to be living, or change turned into habit? Then there’s the unbearable lightness of being. Then there are no roots, and without roots, anchor or a strong intention, there’s only floating.

Say, moving to a new country, or a new city, it’s like meeting new people. It’s awesome. It’s being in a mission, if for survival or success doesn’t really matter. All focus is placed on a goal, on a core. It’s aiming at a heart, or running away from the shot. That’s danger: anticipation. then there’s the peace that comes right after the bomb exploded, the shot was taken… When we either hit target or dodged the bullet. When danger is past, time freezes. Or rather, there’s only time. With much time, indecisiveness.

There’s something special to the feeling of meeting an old friend. There’s gravity in old friendship. There’s memory, a recognition of who you are in who you were. Gravity is continuity.

Re-Cognize. Someone remembers you from another time, another place. That’s a proof that you exist, you’re not a figment of your own imagination. It is also evidence that you were able enough to remain in someone’s mind. There must be some worth in that.


A friend told me once that I had developed a dangerous addiction to changes. Another friend had told me later that lack of gravity is what exile is. I hadn’t connected both till now.

Muddy water

Posted: March 2, 2015 by jennroig in English, Fiction
Tags: , , , ,

Close to midnight. An ageless woman sings a blues, escorted by an organ, drum beats and a guitar. I miss a trumpet or a saxophone. white man flirts with a black girl next to the bar, and she likes the attention. They seem isolated from the rest, the only odd presence other than the Asian couple that joined last. The rest, everybody knows everybody at Showman’s. The audience seems local, familiar, perennial… Baby I love you rain or shine…  Isn’t something sweet to tell someone? The singer asks and no one answers. Nobody seems to have ever said it before.

The black girl stares to the white man, losing her smile for just that moment.I think of that first time when I listened to a jazz riff. A piano solo. A man whispering in my ear a definition of jazz.

The singer introduces next a Billie Holliday´s tune, saying that Billie believed in forgiving everything to her man, sort of a habit that she wont share… Hush now, don’t explain, just say you’ll remain, I’m glad you’re back, don’t explain…jazz-literatura-cortazar

I remember the first time I felt the jazz. Really feeling it, not reading about it in a Cortazar story…

An old black man’s just back from smoking… or from some other time, more than forty years ago, with his tight turtleneck and a beret as he could have used back then, when maybe Billie was singing that song herself… Right or wrong don’t matter, when you’re with me sweet. Hush now, don’t explain…

A Harlem postcard. So endemic as the noise of pipes in the winter.

words in earsA memory. A photo or a film engraved in some part of my brain tissue that could be real, or it could well be a fake. Words recovered or reinvented to repaint another bar, in another city, in another world.

Words coming with a tone, a texture… words like fur, or wind blowing on leaves. Words saying that jazz is an architecture built only over a naked structure, then improvisation fills the gaps, puts over layers of escapades, covers it with instinct and tacit understanding. Words in my ear, lips so close to my skin.

The singer doesn’t echo Billie anymore. It is channeling Nina, the unmissable in a bluesy night… I put a spell on you…

Broken promise

Posted: May 18, 2014 by jennroig in English, Fiction
Tags: , ,

I’m back in the end of the world. There is only ocean around this rock. Just rocks, sand, wild grass, and a lighthouse that could only be built by someone desperate. Or someone looking for an excuse to go away.

No one should ever get to this place. But I grew up here, with her. She’s staring at me now as she always did, evaluating the way I walk, the way I move, the way I am. She has my face but we couldn’t be more different. She’s wearing a dress and I wear broken jeans, she traveled with a trolley and I grabbed my backpack. She keeps herself over the surface, restoring walls, and I dive down, down, deep down the sea… I have no memory of this place without her. She has my face, she’s my twin sister. Sometimes when I find my reflection in the mirror it seems she’s looking back to me from the glass. Perhaps she’s the one in my memories. Maybe I don’t exist at all.

Double Face, by Laura Zalenga

Double Face, by Laura Zalenga

There she comes, with that college-student aura that lingers even though we’re thirty. She’s always been the one, mom’s favorite. She’s the rebel, the one that speaks out her mind, the one that seems to know something I don’t, but swallows the words, as if I couldn’t take it.

But mom left, or was taken away. No matter what mom wasn’t here anymore. And everything I can remember of my life in this tiny island in the middle of nowhere, my sister is there… In the lighthouse, on the wharf, running to the wild grass playing hide and seek… she’s always there, near me, even when I can’t see myself in the memory. Maybe I’m confused after so many years away that I can’t tell anymore the difference between me and her.

Oh God she’s so tan!

Sunset with swans, by Laura Makabresku

Sunset with swans, by Mala Lesbia

– Where’s dad?

– I don’t know. The boat wasn’t at the wharf.

She must have a key, I threw away mine when I swore not to ever come back. She sits in the floor, silent, she will now stare at the sea, pretending is business as usual? She’s breaking her own promise, she must be hating herself. She walks to the other end of the portal, stepping on the wooden floor with those stupid heels. Where’s her key? Isn’t she supposed to hug me and kiss me? It’s been so many years! If she wants my key she will have to ask for it, I don’t mind to wait hours until dad comes back.

Lonely sisters, by Mala Lesbia

Lonely sisters, by Mala Lesbia

I’m not waiting here, I bet she has her key. She just wants me to ask for it, so she can wipe in my face that I threw mine and made a promise I’ve broken. And she will look at me with those evaluating eyes. Where is she going? There’s no window she can climb, this lighthouse is a fortress! What is that noise, what is she doing?!

Fire walks with me, by Mala Lesbia

Fire walks with me, by Mala Lesbia

I knew the bicycle would be there. The old man kept it in the same place, as good as new, it’s remarkable… She leaves, again. She broke the locker and took the bicycle to go elsewhere, any place where I won’t be. She’s taking the road between the wild grass, she’s going to the cliff. Mom’s cliff… She thinks I know something about mom, why did she run away in the middle of the hurricane. But I don’t. I just have more questions. The cliff is so high, so steep, and the waves break so hard against the rocks… But I don’t know, I just don’t know…

El risco

Posted: April 1, 2014 by jennroig in Fiction, Spanish, Women don't Cry
Tags: , , , ,

cliffNinguna de las dos recuerda la última vez que estuvo allí, al borde del risco. Varios metros más abajo el mar se ve calmo, profundo.

La costa en esa parte es una pared de roca, que se sumerge en el mar muchos metros antes de unirse con el fondo.

Ambas saben que la madre venía a menudo, sin decirle a nadie. Sofía lo sabe porque la vio aquella vez. Nadia lo sabe porque Sofía se lo dijo.

Aquella vez Sofía se quedó oculta detrás, entre los arbustos. Woman-LookingOutToSeaEsperó mucho, sin que Rosalía, la madre, hiciera nada más que estar sentada con las rodillas abrazadas al borde del risco. Sofía le veía la espalda derecha y el pelo enredándose en el viento. No podía saber si Rosalía miraba algún barco, si miraba las nubes, si quería quedarse ciega mirando fijo al sol. De pronto la vio de pie. De pronto la vio saltar. No pudo verla volar. Sofía no gritó aquella vez. Se tragó el susto y con la boca tapada se acercó al borde. No vio nada, sólo el agua tranquila, de un azul tan oscuro que casi se volvía negro. Sofía y Nadia tenían doce por entonces, pocos días después las dos ya eran señoritas.

Nadia sí recuerda el momento exacto cuando llegaron a la casa a traer la noticia de que el cuerpo de Rosalía no se encontraba y que la búsqueda iba a parar. Pero eso fue después del ciclón. Rosalía corrió lejos de la casa, lejos del faro, cuando la ventolera empezaba a ponerse más fuerte. Nadia quiso correr detrás pero su padre la agarró. Y luego no intentó más, porque vio a Sofía sentarse en las escaleras del faro quieta, serena, con lágrimas botándose de los ojos. Lo único que encontraron de Rosalía fueron las ropas tiradas a metros de ese mismo borde, sucias y mojadas, enredadas entre las rocas y los matojos. El viento pudo traerlas. O quizás Rosalía las dejó ahí.

Las dos llevan rato sentadas, con las rodillas abrazadas, sin mirarse ni hablarse, al borde del risco. Sofía se levanta primero. Nadia la ve quitarse la blusa, y luego zafarse el pantalón. Sabe lo que va a ser su hermana. No en balde llegaron a este mundo casi al mismo tiempo. Y de una se pone de pie y comienza a desnudarse también. Saltar no puede ser peligroso. Puede doler, pero no va a ser mortal porque Sofía la vio saltar a Rosalía aquella vez. Y ese mismo día Rosalía llegó a casa más tarde. Y sonreía, y cocinó y cantó. Y las tres fueron felices hasta que el padre llegó…

Sofía salta antes. Nadia un segundo después. Por un instante comparten el éter, el espacio sin nada encima o debajo. Puro tiempo presente sin memoria o mañana.