The smell of burnt wood
still lingers on your hands,
I am the fire that consumed it.
Isabela and the voice of love
Isabela Rosa Esteban always dreamed about becoming a famous telenovela actress. She was beautiful, indeed, but her best quality was her remarkable voice that could mirror all the feelings she was experiencing at that very moment. As she did not have a great opportunity in life to study the uplifting art of acting and maybe, also because she was living in a provincial place, a city without a television station of its own, Isabela had to find other ways to make a living. So, instead of becoming a TV star, she put her voice in the service of the localairport of La Fortuna, Guanacaste. This way, travelers from other Central and South American cities would be informed of gate numbers, delays and changes with the most passionate and intense oratory that anyone had ever experienced.
Isabela was taking her job very seriously, therefore, guided by her own feelings and also influenced by the romantic novels she read the night before, she would transfer through her voice right to the souls of passengers, pilots, stewards and cleaning crews, and even of the insensitive custom workers, deep emotions of hope, sadness, love, happiness, serenity or despair, according to the chapters she was reading at the time.
People would remember how once, with a deep sorrow and sadness, she announced that flight 185 toTegucigalpa was now departing from gate 3. The whole airport was wrapped in a hopeless feeling of inexplicable desolation. Some people burst into cry, others were embracing or patting each other’s back. And all because on the previous evening, the heroine of Isabela’s book was dying of tuberculosis in the arms of her lover. On reverse, there were occasions when people passing through La Fortuna airport felt energized by Isabela’s happiness. On those days, a simple announcement of “Senior Gonzalez is called at information desk” would simply put in motion the whole airport. Cleaners were now increasing their speed; people working in the food court seemed to smile only listening to the sound of coffee machines sizzling away and flying crews were running with a grace that only happiness and exaltation would bring. It looked like the whole airport was performing a dance of intricate movements and the only music playing was Isabela’s resonant voice.
On May 3rd, 1992, Manuel Mario Santos was for the first time of his life visiting the beautiful town of La Fortuna, flying from his home, San Jose, for an important business trip that, he hoped, would open great opportunities in his professional life. What he did not know at the time was the fact that it was not his career that would change and that his life would be taken into an unexpected turmoil.
On the previous evening, Isabela finished one of her romantic novels that ended with the consummation of love between two people that went through a lot of trouble in order to be together. The heroine of the book finally gave herself body and soul to the love of her life and she made passionate love for the first time with the man of her dreams. The heat of the night did not help Isabela sleepl and even the sensuous lines of her sweat, sliding on her body, brought up intense feelings, that were unknown to her until that moment.
Next morning, the sultry tone of her voice incited all the morning airport workers. The control tower manager had to find an excuse at lunch in order to visit his mistress. Passengers were throwing fiery looks at each other, men purchasing liquor and cigarettes in the duty free shops would not take their eyes away from the bodacious shop assistants.
So, Manuel Mario Santos, just like the rest of the travelers, was taken in for a great surprise when he came out of his plane and heard the sweetest and loveliest voice announcing that flight 358 fromArequipa was delayed 28 minutes. Never before in his life, was he more interested in a flight schedule as he was at that moment. A feeling of sensuality ran through his spine and he felt more of a man that he ever did. The next announcement about the duty free special of 2 bottle of Flor de Cana rum for the price of one, set him on fire and , forgetting completely about his business partners he had to meet, he ran to the information desk and required immediately to meet the woman that was sending him waves of heat through his soul.
The girl at the information desk looked at him suspiciously and intimidating. Manuel lied and said that he was a famous radio station manager and he needed that very voice for publicity. The girl was immediately persuaded; as she wished that one day she could be discovered as well by a director, TV manager or any personality for that matter. Guided by the girl’s directions, Manuel took off through a labyrinth of hallways, in the background scene of the airport. The sensual voice was now informing passengers that gate 5 was now open for check-in for the flight to Chachagua. Running towards the voice, full of passion, Manuel opened the door as instructed, and there she was, standing in her full splendor, with her long and curly hair flowing on her shoulders, her shirt half opened and her breasts beating up and down like two doves entrapped inside her blouse, the woman of his dreams, beautiful, enchanting Isabela Rosa Esteban.
And the love goddess herself, already heated, not only by the excessive high temperature of that particular sunny afternoon, but also by her repressed sentiments, gaze at the dark man watching her intensely. And without any explanation she ran into his arms and pressed her body on his own. He lifted her up, took off her clothes and loved her right there, on her desk, next to the microphone that she was talking into, every day of her adult life.
A lot of confusion ran through the airport building. Perfume bottles were spilled by shop assistants that were arranging the shelves in vain. Pilots and stewardesses were hugging each other passionately; passengers were ventilating themselves nervously with any means possible, magazines, papers, tickets, trying to relief themselves of the heat wave that was running throughout the airport. And even if the air conditioning was running to the maximum, the technicians were saying that on that afternoon of May 03, 1992, the temperature inside the La Fortuna airport became unbearable.
Ten years have passed since then and, as on each day of their anniversary, Isabela Rosa whispers in the ear of her lover, Manuel Mario, with a tone full of love and affection: “ Flight 628 arriving at gate 9”.
by Elena Cochia – Vochin
A grip of darkness –
No temple bell will ring to break this silence.
I fall alone.
When Ulysses left, Circe could not understand: “Ulysses, how could a man’s heart be so dark, and allow a woman to love him, enchant him, bathe him in rainwater every morning, gather fruits for his lazy afternoon, caress his body with her hands, her feet, her breasts, thread clothes for him with roots and fibres, dream with him, and then, all of a sudden, for the man to break the link of a chain carefully knitted? How can a man be so cruel that would choose friends and army companions over the soft soul of a woman?” And, sitting in the middle of her outdoor kitchen, between the trays that she used to serve him with, between the cauldrons that she used to bathe him in and between the jars of ointment that she used to cure him with, Circe dropped to her knees and cried.
Whipping her tears, she broke the turquoise and gold necklace that laid on her breasts, tore the yellow silk dress she was wearing, threw away her emerald dangling earring and the colourful bangles adorning her hands and her feet. Naked and pure she remained motionless for a while on the outdoor kitchen floor, feeling the coolness of the stones, watching the clouds flying above her and imagining Ulysses and his shipmates riding the waves, away from her, far, far, far away but again, most hurtful, away from her.
She remembered the days when Ulysses would call her, just to fly high on the consonants of her name: Circe! Circe! Circe!. And Circe would soar like a dove to his lament. “Why did he go?” she asked herself. “I gave everything.”
The worst was remembering his hands on her hips, his eyes on her shoulders and the taste of his sweat. She missed him so final. Where was he running, where could he go? “The universe was not vast enough for Ulysses to forget Circe”, she thought .
Suddenly, she understood that she needed to preserve her beauty, she needed to conserve her young soul for him. Because Ulysses would return, yes, Ulysses will be back. And, for the first time in 4 weeks, she smiled. She put back her magnificent jewellery, oiled her body with jasmine perfume, washed her hair in walnut extracts and started to plan ahead the day of his return. She would thread millions of dresses, each more beautiful than the other, and than sit on the highest peak of the island and watch carefully to the ocean’s horizon for Ulysses boat. He would not come back that day, but she was determined to prepare herself for his return. Taking her dress apart, threading another, different patterns, different looks she believed that the key of his return would be in resolving the puzzle of her appearance. By reinventing herself, Ulysses would see in her a different woman, a different pleasure.
Ulysses himself thought of Circe from time to time, however he was now happy, back to his faithful Penelope that was joyfully bathing him in rainwater every afternoon, was gathering fruits for his lazy mornings, was caressing his body with her hands, her feet and her breasts and threading clothes for him only with roots and fibres, dreaming with him. Then, he would call her, flying high on the vowels of her name: Penelope! Penelope! Penelope!
And minute by minute, day by day, Penelope became Circe and Circe became Penelope, as in each woman on this earth there is a part of Circe and there is another of Penelope.
When Ulysses left, Penelope could not understand. “Ulysses, how could a man’s heart be so dark, and allow a woman to love him, enchant him, bathe him in rainwater every morning, gather fruits for his lazy afternoon, caress his body with her hands, her feet, her breasts, thread clothes………
by Elena Cochia-Vochin