VOICES HIDDEN IN THE VALLEY

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The voice, like a sigh, resounded, monotonous and hollow, against the wall.
 —What are you doing?
 Silence immediately reigned.  An elastic silence that seemed to stretch throughout the room, impregnating each board, each thing within its reach.  The father tried to say something, but he found himself in a void of words, an abyss in which there wasn’t so much as a thought.  When he felt submerged in nothingness, he wanted to shout, but he restrained himself, because the boy cut the thread that was drowning him.
 —I am writing to my mommy.
 Each syllable left a trace of sadness in his soul.  A sadness that grew a thousand times when he remembered the beautiful face of his wife adorning the wooden box.
 When he looked at his son it seemed that he saw the flame of the candle laughing at his suffering; he wanted to put it out, but he didn’t dare, because the boy wrote under the protection of its light.  Then he again heard his voice, heavy with melancholy accents.
   —And what are you telling her?  —That I love her a lot and that she should come back soon, because I need her.
 —Sanciro, you should understand that Mama can’t visit you for a long time.  You know?  One day, we’ll go with her.
 —Daddy, when?  Tell me, when will we go to see Mommy?
 —When God decides.
 —And will God take a long time?
 —That depends on us; if we behave ourselves and do everything He tells us, we will go visit her very soon.
 —That’s great!  I’ll behave myself and that way I’ll see my mommy.
 A crazy desire invaded him, an overflowing anguish that burned his eyes.  Tears built up.  He wouldn’t have let any of them out, but despite him two little drops escaped and slid smoothly down his skin.  Then, so the boy wouldn’t see it, he walked a few steps.
 Clouds invaded the sky.  The cold wind blew hard.  Leaves danced in the air and fell in gusts against the house.  In this instant, life seemed to fall into lethargy, into an ocean put to sleep by the sad turning of its waves.  Everything stayed that way, lost in the darkness of the night, while the first drops of the year started to cover the plain.
 The wind plays with the candle’s flame.  The light grows and sometimes seems to leave with the wind.  The rain drums sweetly on the roof.  In this instant, when the winds sing nostalgia and the breeze caresses the trees with its fingers, the boy thinks:  “Papa was just crying when I talked about mommy to him.  It seems like God got sad, because He was crying too.  Why do grown-ups cry so much?  Since she went away, in that long box, I’ve been very lonely.  She took care of me.  I want to be with my mommy.”
 Meanwhile, his father managed to light the stove, and prepared some oatmeal without milk, because he didn’t have money for more.  At the same time, Sanciro kept thinking:  “Why are God’s tears sweet, and when I cried, that day when Mommy went away, mine tasted so bad?  Everything is really complicated, but for sure grown-ups are crybabies.”  His thoughts were interrupted by his father’s voice.
 —Come eat, Sanciro.
 The rain puts everything to sleep as it passes.  The rain continues to advance sadly.  The night seems to stop, tired of its interminable march.  In the house, the boy is caressed by a drop of rain that escapes timidly from the roof.
 —I’m coming right away; let me finish writing my letter.
 He felt a spark of sadness in his heart.  A sadness that soon turned into grief, and he had to dry the tears that ran like crazy down his cheeks.  In that instant, the shadow of the boy was projected on the wall.  When he noticed his presence, he rapidly put away the handkerchief that rested in his hands.
 —Come, sit down, your oatmeal is getting cold.
 When he spoke, his eyes shined with the same intensity as the candle.
 —Sanciro, I have a surprise for you.
 —What is it?
 —Pick up this fig tree and you’ll see.
 When he heard the happy yell of the child, the rain seemed to stop on the roof.
 —Bread!  Bread!  It’s been so long that I haven’t... thank you, Daddy, thank you!
 The boy, like a gust of wind, ran to his father.  With his arms open, he tenderly received the little piece of breeze that tangled in his chest.
 —It’s nothing, my boy.  Come, finish your oatmeal.
 His words seemed to spring from a well of dry leaves.  As he spoke, he took Sanciro between his hands and delicately deposited him in the chair.  Then he went to the table where the little one had written.  “Mommy, ask God why He and Daddy cry when I talk about you.”
 When he finished reading, he flung himself into the dining room, which was sometimes also a kitchen, took Sanciro in his arms and hugged him tight.  While he nestled him against his chest, he cried.