January 31, 2018

El Vendedor Y La Bruja or How Eduardo Found His Heart - Laura Diaz de Arce

He feared he would 
never fall in love...
Author’s Note: This story is written, for lack of a better phrase, in Spanglish. I grew up in a bilingual household, and stories were never a 100% English, or 100% Spanish. The free form nature of Enchanted Conversation’s stories this month really allowed me to play with that, so I wrote a story to honor where my mother comes from - Chile. I hope you enjoy it.
-Laura Diaz de Arce

Once upon a time, there was traveling salesman who was called Eduardo. Eduardo sold hats, los sombreros más lindos del mundo. -Sombreros para los padres, niños, rancheros y sacerdotes.-He would chant, coming into the village. The children would come and stare at Eduardo, for he carried every hat he sold on his back and on his head. It was quite a sight!

All the women would come when he came to the village as well, for Eduardo was very handsome. Even though he carried all those hats, caminó como un príncipe. He had a voice like the easy roll of thunder y una sonrisa that shined like light breaking a cloud. He traveled from village to village in the valley of a mountain and wherever he went, the young women would smile and flirt with him. They all wanted to marry him and the young women’s mothers wanted him to marry their daughters. -¿Y cuando te vas a casar Eduardo? -la Señora would ask, indicating her daughter with the tilt of her chin or a batted eyelash.

Eduardo would just laugh that booming laugh of his, cuando me enamore -would be his answer, and he would soon move onto another village. It came to pass that while Eduardo found many women beautiful and charming, he did not feel he could love them. Even Serena Del Río, the most beautiful woman in all the villages, with her dark hair and skin as clear as still water, could not move his heart to love.

On a hot summer day, after turning down Serena’s hand, Eduardo sat down on the foot of a hill with all his hats and seriously considered this. He found many women pretty and he often felt something for them, but he was never moved to love. While Eduardo was thinking, one of the respected men of the village, Don Juan Carlos, came to see Eduardo in his pensive state. -¿Qué te pasa amiguito? - asked Don Juan Carlos, -¿Por qué tienes esa cara?

Don Juan Carlos was a respected ranchero with a lovely wife and many good children, and people often looked to him for his wisdom. Eduardo told him everything, about how he did not feel his heart stir for any woman more than just how beautiful they were. Eduardo confided in Don Juan Carlos that he feared he would never fall in love and have a beautiful wife to come home to, or a woman to bear his children and fix his meals.

After hearing this, Don Juan Carlos stroked his chin as he thought. Then caramba! Se la prendió el bombillo, Don Juan Carlos seemed to have solved the problem. He looked at Eduardo with a face as serious as stone - ¡Amiguito, creo que no es un problema tuyo solamente! La bruja que vive arriba de la Montaña te ha hechado una maldicion y te robo tu corazón.!

This is how Eduardo heard of the witch who steals the hearts of young men and resolved then to find and confront her. Con todos sus sombreros, Eduardo made his way up the mountain. This journey was not an easy trek, even for one as young and strong as Eduardo. The air was thinner and cold. The terrain was hard to climb, for the soil was shallow in many places and his boots could not grasp it. At night he would build himself a little shelter from his many sombreros and brew mate tea to ease the pain all over his body. But Eduardo was determined to get his heart back from the witch and one day fall in love.
He reached the witch’s cottage early one morning. It was built on the slope of the mountain and he could see a small garden y un corral con cabras y alpacas. Eduardo put his large stack of hats aside, straightened his back and knocked on the door. The woman who answered Eduardo no era la mas linda del mundo, no linda como Serena Del Río, pero de una manera muy peculiar era linda. Eduardo was shocked, for he thought that a witch who lived on a mountain would be an old crone, not this young woman with a delicate face, high cheeks y ojos claros.

Eduardo blinked himself back to reality and looked the witch straight in her eyes. In his booming voice he said -¡Bruja! ¡Tu te robaste mi corazón! ¡Da me lo que me robaste!

La bruja looked at Eduardo quizzically. Who was this stranger who had come to her solitary home to accuse her of stealing his heart. She looked at the handsome salesman, who was quite obviously more handsome when he hadn’t struggled up a mountain and replied -Yo no le robe su corazón pero lo tomaré si me lo da.

With that, the witch went around her little farm to do her daily work. She milked the goats, fed and brushed the alpacas, dug for potatoes and planted more. Eduardo watched, confused. What did she mean she would take his heart if he gave it? He settled in to stay for a while, hoping that perhaps she would accidentally drop his heart somewhere and he could take it back. He built his little shelter out of his sombreros and observed her as she worked around her little home.

That evening, she left her casita and approached Eduardo’s shelter con un vaso de té. She had seen him out there in the cold and took pity on him. In the moonlight, she looked even more beautiful. Her skin seemed to glow and her dark hair faded into the starry sky like it was made con el cielo. Eduardo felt something stir in his chest.

Pero eso no es amor.

It was attraction. Eduardo had felt that for many beautiful women, but he knew it was a fleeting feeling. A feeling easily replaced con una nueva cara linda. This witch looked at Eduardo’s little set up and invited him to her fire for tea y sopa. At this Eduardo felt something else stir in his chest.

Pero eso no es amor.

That was kindness. Kindness was something he had given and received on his many travels around the valley. He was thankful every time. Part of him still feared this was a witch’s trap, but he was so cold, hungry and tired that he could not say no. They ate in silence, but the small meal filled his belly and he slept warm and silent in front of her fire. Esa noche Eduardo soño de su corazón y de una mujer con ojos claros.

The next morning, the witch woke up with the dawn and worked around her casita. Eduardo watched her move with such deliberateness. She had rigged up a device to collect eggs and snare small creatures, and Eduardo noted how clever she was. He again felt that little stirring in his chest.

Pero eso no es amor.

That was admiration. Eduardo knew that feeling, of seeing something accomplished or done that you hoped to aspire to. Watching how the witch moved in the difficult climate with such ease, coming up with ways to survive, Eduardo was impressed.

He thought, that since he was there, he should help. Especially since the witch had already invited him to her hearth and fed him. He combed and sheared her alpacas for her. As a man who knew fabric from his trade, he had never seen fur this fine and soft. He brought the fur to her and watched as she shaped the fur into wool, her hands and fingers moving la lana con una destreza que solo una bruja pudiese tener.

He asked if her skill was because of her witchcraft and she just laughed. The warmness of her laugh made something stir in Eduardo’s chest.

Pero eso no es amor.

That was just the pleasantness of humor. He liked to hear her laugh, and yearned to make her laugh again. When she finished she explained that no, ella no era una bruja. Y que los campesinos de alrededor no concevían come una mujer le gustava vivir sola y por eso llamaban “Bruja”.

-Bueno, yo no voy a llamarte ‘bruja’ entonce. ¿Como te llamas? -Pregunto Eduardo.

-Me llamo Marta. -she said, con un sonrisa.

Paso el año y Eduardo and Marta began to live together on that mountain. Eduardo began to incorporate Marta’s wool into the hats he sold. He smiled more than before, but he no longer had wandering eyes for the maidens of the different villages. After a trip or two to the valley, Eduardo would find himself eager to come back to Marta. Often, when he was around her, he felt that little stirring in his chest. Sometimes she would look at him and he would know that she felt it too. They always felt better together.

The years went by and Eduardo was no longer the young, handsome gentleman before. His back was bent from carrying su sombreros y su pelo estaba gris. La cara de Marta estaba arrugada, su cabello lucia como el color del cielo por la no y con una nubesita blanca. Yet, despite being old and frail, their hearts still fluttered around each other.

Porque éso si es amor.

Love was not one singular feeling for Eduardo and Marta, it was the combination of all these wonderful feelings they had for one another. It was the closeness and necessity of togetherness and companionship that did not falter, but grew with age.

Y ellos vivieron felices para siempre.
           ….and they lived happily ever after.
Laura Diaz de Arce is a South Florida based writer and the daughter of two immigrants. She is one-half of Smoking Mirror Press and has been known to do a pretty good rendition of "Quimbara" at Karaoke.
You can find her at SmokingMirrorPress.com
and on Twitter @QuetaAuthor.

Cover by Amanda Bergloff   

1 comment:

AMOffenwanger said...

That's a great story; it made me smile. I only know very little Spanish, but I was able to follow most of it - not all, but enough to get the gist. There is a special tone to the "Spanglish" that would not be there if it was just English.