#381: Lunch time - 2015-09-20
At the kitchen, lunch for three, getting colder for several minutes, waiting the arrival of the two missing diners. This time, Clara didn't want to complicate things, and made a tasty chicken stew.
At the radio, the news, this time talking about discussions being carried out about a new Tax Reform, with the proposals of senator Sebastián Piñera (National Renewal) and senator Carlos Ominami (Socialist), versus the remarks of the Minister of Finance, Eduardo Aninat.
At the workroom, the bed María Angélica Sepúlveda was using, was abandoned since last week. Alongside it, standing up and batteryless, S.A.P.O.C.O.P. was silently awaiting Eliana's orders.
At the roofs, Mimí, socializing with the neighborhood's cats. More than one of them attempted to woo her during the last few months, without success. Sometimes Mimí escaped to the beach in order to hunt fish; now she's a great swimmer.
At the house's backyard, the school uniform of the four children was drying on some lines. When all siblings are from the same gender and have similar builds it's common usage that the younger siblings inherit the old uniform from the older siblings, but this is not the case in this family. Pedro, six years younger than Hugo and with a much stronger build, wouldn't accept to use such old clothes, while Eliana was wearing the same size as four years ago.
At their little store — it's a very small "Mom & Pop"-style store, a kind of family-owned business that never died out in Latin America — Clara was waiting, anxious. She had little work to do at the house: everything was tidy, bills were already paid, clothes were all clean and there were few customers. Thanks to Eliana's help, Clara could expand her offer of groceries, though what she sells the most is empanadas, cakes and other pastry.
- “ I'm so bored! ” - Clara thought - “ I'm so used to a house full of kids that, now that they're not around, I feel so alone. O Juanito, you should already be there! Hurry up! ”
A truck parked in front of the house of the Martínez-Gómez family, and two men took a freezing machine for ice cream. Clara stood up quite annoyed.
- “ I was expecting you here last Thursday! ”
- “ We had trouble with our stock. As a means of making up for it, we're offering you a 10% discount. ”
- “ ... Okay, I'll take it. But better it works this time, as this is the third time you replace it. ”
- “ Don't worry. We already solved that issue. I can assure you that this machine doesn't have the failures that the other machines had. ”
- “ I expect so, or I'll find another provider. ”
Clara wanted to start selling ice cream since over a month ago; she already had the sanitary authorization and the municipal permit expansion, but the machines had some failures that made her lose about twenty thousand Chilean pesos in ice cream.
Under a sun that stuck out from behind the clouds that usually appeared during the morning at the central coast, Pedro and his friends were already tired of playing all morning long at the hill where they always met. Pedro liked to go out for some physical exercise early in the morning, and was him who instilled on his friends the habit of going out early to play. Many of his schoolmates slept until three in the afternoon during the summer, but they preferred the morning to the night.
A little after two in the afternoon, Eduardo arrived to the hill, and found the kids sitting on a circle, talking between each other.
- “ José! Paola! Come to lunch! ”
Paola was already practically one of the family; same with José at Paola's house. The others often joked about this relationship of two ten years old kids who, as many of the relationships between their older friends, came up from nothing. Anyway, the record within Pedro's friends still belonged to Pablo Lillo and Javiera López, who already walked together between home and school since third grade.
Eduardo stared at them full of enby, as he couldn't understand how, so naturally, his youngest brother became more than just friends with this dark-skinned girl. He liked a girl of unpronounceable name and oriental appearance, who he has rarely met. They weren't even friends, but Eduardo couldn't think about anyone else.
Diego soon would be called back home by his sister Blanca, and so the other kids decided to go back home by themselves. Pedro and Antonio joined Diego and Blanca, as they coincided on their way.
Blanca hated the months between November and March, as her delicate albino skin was very sensitive to sun radiation, hence she has to use long-sleeved clothes all the time. Her long, completely white dress was an interesting sight for the kids; though Blanca was very shy and didn't like to be asked about her problem, she decided to answer their questions anyway.
- “ Kids. I'm going to tell you a secret, but I don't want you to tell anyone. You promise? ”
- “ We promise. Tell us, Blanca. ”
- “ Well, it's just... to be honest, I'm not completely albino. I have some dark spots in some parts of my skin, in my legs, in my belly, in my back. I'm very ashamed because of them, that's why I've never gone to the beach, I don't want anyone to see me like this. Also because I'm quite sensitive to sunlight, I don't like to get out of home. ”
The kids became astonished and felt compassion for Blanca. They stared at her, unable to say anything.
- “ On the bright side... you see... albino people usually have vision problems, many slowly lose their sight until becoming completely blind. Instead, I have perfect sight at my left eye, and only a slight problem at my right eye. My ophthalmologist said that I would never become blind, though I still have to get checked periodically. It's something, don't you think so? ”
The kids smiled and nodded to her. For them, Blanca was a beautiful girl, completely out of the ordinary, and they were fascinated by her presence, much to Diego's chagrin.
- “ Sometiimes I dream of being a normal girl, dark-skinned like my brother, like my father and like my mother. Sometimes I feel that the person I see in the mirror is not me, that she's someone else. I don't like to be albino, I don't want to be like that... but it's something I'll have to deal with through my whole life. ”
With that, Blanca erased again the kids' smile. It was difficult for them to accept that what they once saw as a blessing was actually a burden that Blanca had to carry...
Pedro was the first to change the subject, after a moment of uncomfortable silence.
- “ Blanca, as you don't like to go out... What do you do during summer? Do you have any pastime? ”
Blanca blushed. That was the first time that someone outside her family showed so much interest on her. aside from a piece of advice that Carlos gave to her during his survey. At her class she didn't speak with anyone, and indeed she had no friends, only admirers.
- “ Well, huh... I like to read... and to listen to music. ”
- “ What kind of music? ”
- “ ... mainly romantic music, latin... the radio station I listen to the most is Radio Aurora. ”
- “ My sister Rosa also listens to that same station! That's music for adult women, not for youngsters like you! ”
- “ What do you have against that station, Pedro? ”
- “ You listen to it too, Diego!? HAHAHAHA! ”
Antonio also laughed, and this outraged Diego.
- “ Hey! Are you little kids or what! I bet that you don't even know the lyrics of the songs you listen to! ”
- “ No, but we listen to music for fun, not for cutting our veins! ”
- “ What are you talking about, Pedro? They also play festive music, to which you can dance! And that's not the only station I listen to, I also listen to Rock & Pop, to Carolina FM, and to Universo FM! ”
Pedro stopped laughing. There was something that he didn't knew about Radio Aurora. Actually, it's absurd to pretend being knowledgeable about the radio spectrum at such early age.
- “ ... errr... as far as I know, Rosa never listens to that kind of music. ”
- “ So maybe Rosa might prefer more "tearful" music, but Blanca is not like that, and I'm definitely not like that. ”
Saying this, Diego and Blanca entered to their home, without saying good-bye, though Blanca looked at Pedro with a sad expression.
- “ Oops. ” - said Antonio.
- “ I don't know, Antonio. ” - Pedro replied - “ I still maintain my opinion that radio Aurora is mainly for a feminine audience. ”
- “ Right. But I don't think making Diego angry like that... ”
- “ Diego gets angry for everything, Antonio. He's not like us. We tell jokes and joke to each other all the time, always on a friendly way, we always laught to each other. But he doesn't, he gets angry, he sulks. ”
- “ Just like Ángela. They take everything so seriously, take offence, get hurt... Don't you think that they're the one for the other? ”
- “ Diego and Ángela? Hahaha! I don't think that's going to happen, Antonio. Ángela is quite a grind, too smart, she deserves something better. ”
- “ ... Right. ”
Then, the kids met Juan, who just got out from work. He works five hours on Saturdays, in order to complete his quota of 45 hours a week.
- “ Huh... well, Pedro. See you later tomorrow. Bye! ”
- “ Bye, Antonio! Hi, Dad! ”
- “ Hi, Pedro! Going back home? ”
- “ Yeah, we were playing all morning long! ”
- “ And you left Clara alone at home! ”
- “ Wasn't Rosa with her? ”
- “ No, she wasn't! Rosa went to Chanco with her classmates! ”
- “ ... Daaa...! I forgot it! ”
- “ Ok, let's hurry back home, because she will surely be waiting for us with lunch ready! ”
In fact, by that time Clara was already feeling sad, because she wasn't used to be alone. As she saw them, she ran to reheat the lunch, and then she welcomed them back with a kiss and a big hug.
- “ Excuse me, little lady. ” - a guard stopped Eliana at the entrance to a museum.
- “ Huh? ”
- “ You can't enter with luggage to the museum. You must leave it at custody. ”
- “ I can't, mister guard. ”
- “ Why not, little lady? Let me see what you bring inside that. ”
Actually, the only thing Eliana carried at her back was her long hair, partially hidden inside a backpack in an attempt to avoid calling people's attention. And now she'll have to display it in all its glory for the enjoyment of the security guard.
- “ Wow! You really have some very long hair, little lady! That's the only thing you have inside that backpack? ”
- “ Yes, sir. ”
- “ Well... it's alright. You can pass. ”
- “ Thank you. ”
Eliana had many places to visit, and it was already past three in the afternoon, so her visits became shorter and shorter. She could no longer avoid using her nigh-superhuman speed to quickly traverse the expositions without missing anything. It was a surprise for the guard to see the long-haired girl taking just a few minutes to completely visit the Chilean Museum of Precolumbian Art.
After that, Eliana decided to find a place to lunch. The “Fernández Concha” hallway was the nearest thing, but the food at that place wasn't what she wanted. Well, there was the “Chez Henry” restaurant... but no, maybe when she becomes a professional and earns accordingly.
Actually, Eliana, coming from a poor family at an insignificant town, still didn't know the value of money, despite already knowing how to earn it. A quick look to the menu and the dishes being eaten at that famous restaurant in the center of Santiago was enough to put her in her place. She didn't want to eat Chilean abalone or escargot, she didn't want to pay five, ten thousand pesos or more for a meal that wouldn't fit inside her tiny stomach and that her inexpert taste wouldn't know how to enjoy.
Eliana needed something fitting her scale.
In a single bound, she disappeared from within the crowd that surrounded her, and in a second she was already at the roof of the building where the restaurant was located. In less than a minute she reached the roof of the Central Market, inside which she peeked to find a not-quite-different scenario. She went down to the road and walked at a relatively normal speed to a shop at Puente street, where she bought bread, cheese and fruit juice. Nearby, she bought a couple of bananas. Then, she disappeared again, in order to advance quickly over the roofs of the buildings in central Santiago, and reached Santa Lucía hill, where she stopped in order to to eat and rest a little.
- “ Where will I go now? ” - she asked to herself - “ I'm done walking through all the center, O'Higgins park, Cousiño palace, La Alhambra palace, Lourdes grotto, the “Quinta Normal”, Santiago University and all museums I found on my path. Maybe I could go to Catholic University, to Lastarria and Bellavista neighborhoods, to San Cristóbal hill, then through Providencia... ”
Eliana watched her clock. Three and a half.
- “ ... Or whatever I can manage to visit before sunset. My bus leaves in six hours. ”