The Good Wood

When is a tree effectively dead? Is it perhaps when the landlord stops taking care of it? Or rather when after layers and layers of bark, all you can see is another layer of brown, dry wood?

There was this particular day way back in the old times. The sun had just made its first meters onto the horizon. Some miles down the hill, between bosky banks, the wood-choppers had their first breath of fresh air before starting with their morning routine. The wild dogs, that lived all around the slope, went into hiding when they noticed the daily activity started to run again. Weekends at this place turned people effulgent.

The cold and hazy dawn had made its way once more, in the middle of mountains, on the uttermost reaches of a little circumvallate town in Neuquén. For the luckiest ones, that was a day to slumber. In the village, people started gathering around the fire that the Mayor furnished in the central market every Saturday for the last couple of years. The typical comfy feeling when a gentle and warm zephyr spread around the people, got them laughing and the lovely vibe was thriving.

This mom of the 2 kids was right there, in the middle of the crowd meeting with the locals as any visitor would when spending a few days nearby. Clara, however, she wasn’t a visitor but rather a host as she was quite familiar in the area. She was staying with her family in a house on the hills, which was from his parents that recently had passed away.

That morning was their first of a brief holiday, and before the cockcrow, she went into town to get some supplies and breakfast for everyone. All her acquaintances were delighted to see Clara again. Some of them, who had last seen her decades ago, stared at her cautiously afar. Everyone received her and she turned to everybody with the big smile and glazy eyes of hers.

Clara was the little town girl of yore before she moved out with her husband. Between hugs and kisses, a sad thought caught her mind, but she drew an evanescent smile on her face before anyone noticed. The fact that the town was exactly the same as the time she left, got her a bit blue. After being in such big cities that were party to the global culture, it was hard for her to accept that this old and woody town was still running by candles and horses.

The merchants that lived in the surroundings also were invited to the weekly gathering. But typical of them, they always brought their best food and handicrafts to acquire new customers. While setting up their stalls, Clara approached one apace to get the best fruits before anyone. She noticed right away, by a simple lookup, that some apples and were local and organic. At some point, being back home felt real.

Before heading back to the hills, Clara went on a ramble across town. The front walls of the houses that were once white-ish are now completely darkened and the wooden doors are shattered. Many abandoned houses due to new generations moving out, were starving the town into nothingness, there weren’t many years left for it to completely obliterated.

Next to a dirty corridor, this notorious old man that caught her sight. He was sitting still with a large facón that was lying right next to him, as it were his best friend even in the worst situations. She approached him wondrous at a slow pace at the same time that she was trying to remember his name.

Carlos was diminished, his depression made himself turn crapulent. He was well known in town for being his never-ending bad days. His pride and misaligned point of view towards life wreaked permanent havoc on his reputation.

He drew on himself a little and witty smile when Clara was close enough for him to spot her.

— You’ve seen better days my friend.

Darling… I’ve seen some many people pass by, but I couldn’t speak to anyone like I did with your father.

Good ol’ friends, weren’t you?

— It turned out, Clara, that I am a prisoner of the things I like.

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