ďIn this chaotic universe certainty only comes along once, it doesnít matter how many lives one is able to live.Ē
A New York Story
Translated from Spanish by Srta.Pecas
Faith Sherman was the only daughter of a southern widow that in her best times had been married to a merchant man from Atlanta. Mr. Sherman had died when Faith was twelve years old, and since then mother and daughter had confronted life together. Making their way against wind and sea and leading a simple life in one of the suburbs in Dixie Land capital.
Even with all the pain that her fatherís death had caused her, little Faith had kept her vivacity and freshness that were her trademarks and made her so loved among her friends and all of those who met her. When someone needed a shoulder to cry on, a smile to brighten the darkest day or just an attentive listener, Faith was there to help.
At age sixteen the young woman had done some volunteer work at a public school for special need children and in that activity she had found her vocation. Since then her biggest dream had been to be able to dedicate herself to special education but her probabilities of continuing her studies after high school were slim due to the bad economic conditions of her family.
Ashley Sherman had been a prosperous merchant but after the birth of his daughter Faith, his wife Sarah had had many problems with her health and the medical bills had forced Sherman to acquire debts that he could never pay. By the time of his death in 1992, Sarah had had to sell the gas station that they owned and the summer house in order to be able to pay of her husbands debts. Without any other mean of support, Mrs. Sherman had started to work part time taking care of the elderly in a home and she received a pension from the government, being that her health didnít allow her to work more.
Faith helped Sarah however she could, taking on summer jobs and babysitting after school. But that kind of money was not enough to guarantee a college education for the young woman. In any case Faith had decided to get the best grades and take the most advanced and difficult courses that her school had offered in order to get a scholarship that would allow her to continue in order to reach her goal of Special Education.
Thatís how she lived her last year in school. Faith worked really hard dividing
up her time between her studies, the children that she looked after, and the
volunteer work. During the moments when she was free, she would keep herself busy trying
to fix everyone elseís lives, even if they didnít ask for it. She was a
professional busybody, but she had so much charisma that people easily forgave
Faith Sherman didnít have time for love, and not because of lack of suitors.
Faith was not only charming; she also possessed an irreverent and fresh beauty.
Tall and delicately curvy, of strong movements, she looked at the world from
the burning light of her deep green eyes that shone like toe lakes in which
emerald color fish swam.
her great annoyance the young woman possessed an extraordinary fair skin that
never tanned properly, but got covered in freckles if she stayed in the sun for
a long time. Faith, who loved the outdoors, sports and the sea, always
complained about her incapacity to have tanned skin. Her mother had consoled
her telling her that in other times fair skin had been a beauty standard even
thought in our times a tan was considered more beautiful. But this didnít
really make her feel better.
She did however have a natural blush in her smooth cheeks and also in her well defined lips. As a special touch to her face, mixture of innocence and mischievousness a small short pointy nose sprinkled with some freckles finished the composition. Finally a long blond and intricately curled mane framed her, giving her almost an unreal touch to the girl.
Even though she had plenty of traits that would make her fit the European beauty standard, the young woman had not been very lucky in love. During the years that had taken her to become a woman, many guys had started to show interest in her, but Faith rarely accepted a date and it was only a few times in which she had gone out with guys her own age, never really making a relationship. For some reason, one that was unknown even to her, every guy that she had met wasnít able to awake in her more than friendly feelings.
- How was your date with Jeremy? Ė asked Daisy, her best friend from school, at one point.
- Donít even remind me Ė answered the blond annoyed Ė the guy was a total lout. He tried to hug me in the first 20 minutes of the movie, not once but three times and since I moved his arm away so many times after a half an hour he said that the movie was boring and that he wanted to leave to go home and feed his cat.
Jerk! And what did you do? Ė asked Daisy curious.
- Well I said that I liked the movie so I stayed alone and he left.
Faith! But how could you do that? Ė scolded the honey colored eyed girl.
- Easy, I stayed and cried a lot with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep.
- You are a lost cause. Are you never going to really be interested in anybody? Wouldnít you like to fall in love?
- Oh Daisy! Ė sighed the girl Ė I donít know if I should, I have so many plans and I donít think a romance would be the most convenient thing right now....besides...
What? Ė asked Daisy intrigued by the strange light that glimmered for a second
in the eyes of her friend.
- No, nothing. Pay no attention to me.
- You tell me right now, you know how curious I am Ė argued Daisy.
- Well... it just the same as always... today I felt like something is missing in my life... a piece of the puzzle that I canít seem to find... a face...
- A face? Ė Said Daisy Ė explain because Iím not understanding you.
- I donít know Daisy. Itís like each time I go through an unknown street, every time that I change schools, that I meet new people and new places, my eyes look for a particular face, eyes of a specific color a voice that I have never heard of but that I am sure I would recognize in an instant.
- Youíve seen that face before? Ė asked Daisy.
- No Daisy! I donít even know what it would look like Ė answered Faith smiling.
- Then how would you recognize it? Ė replied Daisy a little annoyed.
- I donít know that either. I just know that when I find that face Iíll know itís him. The man Iím waiting for.
- Good God Faith, youíve read way too many romance novels!
Thatís the way that the years went by and finally the moment came to see if Faithís hard work had been worth it. In the beginning of her last school year the girl had started to conduct an exhaustive search to select the University that would fit her budget and the scholarship that she was getting.
Faith sent out for applications to a variety of schools in all parts of the country, hoping that one in Georgia would accept her, being that she didnít want to live too far away from her mother, whose health was not too good. But the young woman didnít get what she wished for, and the only acceptance letter came from a University in New York, in the city.
The young woman felt very disappointed with this situation, because the concern and love she felt for her mother was telling her that she shouldnít accept that opportunity. It would, possibly, be better to wait until next year to try again. But Sarah Sherman, who was a loving mother, pushed her daughter with all her strength to pursue her dream, and her insistence convinced the young woman to accept. So the next fall, Faith left Georgia and moved to the Big Apple with intentions to begin her dream... and find her destiny.
Things werenít easy in the beginning. New Yorkers were wary and making new friends was difficult. Life at the campus was hard and the getting used to the rhythm of the grand metropolis was none too pleasant for this daughter of the south. But Faith, holding on to her inexhaustible enthusiasm was able to break the ice and beat out nostalgia. At the end of her first year she had already made a circle of friends that worried about the pretty southerner that always had a smile on her lips and an encouraging word for everyone, even though she was dying of sadness inside from being far away from her mother.
One of her first friends she had made was a Hispanic girl, whose parents had moved to the U.S when Michelle was only 15 years old. The positive chemistry between Faith and Michelle had been instant. Both girls had been in line to pay for some books at the bookstore and Faith who was very distracted reading had bumped into Michelle making her drop all of the poetry books that she was about to purchase.
- I see you like Emily Dickinson Ė had commented Faith after apologizing.
- I adore her Ė replied Michelle with a huge smile Ė Iím studying Literature.
- I like poetry also, but Iím studying Special Education at NYU. Iím Faith, Faith Sherman.
- Iím Michelle Valencia, nice to meet you.
- Nice to meet you too.
the incident the girls had locked themselves in an animated conversation and by
the time they left the store they were already friends. The ties that were born
in that moment would last forever.
Michelle Valencia was the daughter of an important diplomat that worked for the Peruvian Embassy, and her mother was a traditional housewife. Settled in Washington D.C the Valenciaís had reluctantly let Michelle go. But the girl was very independent and strong willed so they couldnít convince her to stay in the state to continue with her education.
It didnít take long for Faith and Michelle to become inseparable, and one day during their second year of college, the Peruvian girl made her friend a proposition.
- You know something Faith; Iím planning to move outside of campus.
- Really Michie? Why? Donít you like living in the dorms? Ė asked the southern girl with a sweet accent.
- No, itís not that. Itís just that a friend of my Dadís is the owner of a building in Broadway and has an apartment for rent at a very good price. It almost a whole floor and he said I could remodel it if I want.
- That sounds great. Youíll have all the room you need, right? And itís not too far away from campus.
- Thatís right Ė replied Michelle Ė but i donít really want to live by myself.
- Why donít you ask someone to share it with you then? - Said Faith distractedly while she ate the hamburger that she had in her hands.
- Well... I had thought that maybe a certain southerner might want to live with me.
- Are you crazy Michie? I couldnít afford it.
- But whoís saying you would have to pay? Ė asked Michelle with her bright dark eyes.
- Because I pay for what I consume, thatís why Ė answered the blond simply.
- Well, in that case you could cooperate by cooking.
- You would be willing to eat what I cook, Michie? Ė Faith joked.
- If you have survived for a year with your cooking, why couldnít I?
- Hmmm... I donít know Michie.
- Think about it Faith, living outside of campus would make it easier to find a part time job or hourly and then you wouldnít feel so limited and maybe you could even send some money to you mom.
blond didnít answered right then, but within two weeks they were visiting the
apartment that was the whole floor of an old building. The afternoon that
Michelle took Faith to the place for the first time the young woman felt as if
a needle pierced her heart.
- Whatís wrong Faith? Ė asked Michie.
- I donít know, itís like...Iíve been here before... itís a strange sensation... like...
- Like what?
Sadness Ė was the only answer out Faith.
- Come on; donít start again with your weird stories of faces in the multitude!
And with that comment the case was closed and the girls proceeded to look around the place. It was dirty and needed some repairs, but Michelleís father was willing to indulge his daughter, so the girls were soon picking out furniture and some paint for the walls.
though money was no issue for Michelle, Faith knew better the value of it, as
so she convinced her friend to hire friends to help them with the apartment
instead of professionals. Itíll be fun that way and we can save up to have a
party later Ė had been Faithís tempting offer. So one day a group of college
students from Literature, Psychology, Education and Social work all came to the
apartment to fix the floor for the new tenants.
During the three days that the repairs lasted something curious happened. While Faith was dusting a wall in one of the two bedrooms so it could be painted, she noticed that the wall was hollow. With her fist she started to knock on it and then really intrigued, she called one of her friends.
enough the wall had been knocked down, because what Faith wanted was law to her
friends. When the dust had settled she was able to look in from the hole that
had been opened. The guys noticed that it was a room that had been closed off.
Astoundingly the room was fully furnished, and they realized it was a study.
By the style of the furniture you could think that they dated from the thirties or fortyís. There was a desk of simple lines, a chair and a couple of little tables with some decorations on them, and a huge bookshelf. When Michie went near the bookshelf, she took the sheet that was covering it off, and dusted some of the volumes that were there. She couldnít help to squeal of happiness when she realized that this find was a complete collection of poetry and theatrical plays.
Faith, to the contrary felt really attracted to the desk, where even though time had past everything was still in order. Everything was organized dutifully, and nothing was out of place. The young woman passed her fingers over the dusty top and a vision came to her mind.
A young man with chestnut color hair and whose face she couldnít see was running down the stairs, as if he desperately wanted to catch someone. Suddenly Faith felt that the young man was holding her by her waist.
- Faith! Faith! Are you back from dreamland? - Asked Michie.
- You kind of left. Go get the duster so we can clean this treasure room we found.
And thatís what they called it, Treasure room.
With their friends' help they searched the treasure room thoroughly. Michie and Faith were surprised and intrigued with this unexpected discovery. Like two little girls opening presents on Christmas Eve they inspected the objects over the tables and desk and ended up doing an inventory.
- A Shakespeare bust.
- A framed map of England.
- A paperweight in the shape of a pyramid.
- A bronze statue of a galloping horse.
A lamp that still worked.
- A porcelain jug.
- A pendulum clock that had stopped at 11:30
- A quill knife.
- A black folder with some white sheets of paper.
They had eagerly searched for clues that could give them an idea has to who had been the owner of these items. And something that would let them know why this room had been closed of with all these things in it. But they couldnít find much. The first page of every book was marked with the initials T.G.G and under the paperweight there was a date July 2nd, 1923.
After the search Michie got tired of playing detective and simply assumed that she could be the happy new owner of that wonderful book collection, and that Faith and her now had a study. They just needed to update the place so they could install a computer in the room, and a get cable connection for the internet, add one more book shelf and everything would be perfect.
Youíre not going to tell the owner what we found? Ė asked a shocked Faith as
she played with the paperweight.
- Yes of course, but I donít think he needs to know a lot of details.
- But that would be telling half the truth. Besides some of these things could
have some value as antiques.
- And whoís stealing them? Ė Asked Michie playing innocent Ė weíll use them for the next two years and when we get done with college weíll return them to the owner. Though you seem to have liked that paperweight a lot, so you have my permission to keep it, I donít think our landlord will go broke for an item he doesnít even know he owns.
- Oh Michie! Ė Faith said giving up, at the same time that she looked at the
date at the base of the pyramid that she had in her hands.
Aaron Truman had been born in the middle of a prestigious family. His father, Gregory Truman was a wealthy and prestigious lawyer that was the head of one of the most important law firm in Boston. His mother, Lucinda Aston, before being Mrs. Truman, was a recognized journalist. They had been married for fifteen years. Their relationship had been very passionate in the beginning, but soon the difference in ideas and their multiple social engagements had driven them apart, so they had both decided to have a friendly divorce.
The breakup between his parents, thought civilized had affected a young Aaron, who at the time was twelve years old. The ex Ė Mrs. Truman had found love again quickly and that had bothered him so, that he had decided to go live with his father. Since Lucinda was very liberal and wanted for her son to be a free spirit she didnít oppose his decision.
But this didnít help Aaron and his fatherís relationship, who was always too busy. This way the young man kept feeding his resentment against his parents and closed himself off, turning only to what gave him comfort reading and drawing.
The definite rupture between Aaron and his father came a few years later, when the young man announced that he wanted to study art, specially painting and design. Mr. Truman didnít believe that a man of his standing could dedicate himself to the arts. Those artists are all unproductive parasites, communists and agitators. He used to tell his son and the idea that he wanted to become one of them was not pleasant, so he was against it.
her part, Lucinda, seeing an opportunity to reestablish her relationship with her
son, supported him. This way if the separation between the Trumanís had been a
civilized and peaceful one before, the real war didnít start until six years
after their divorce when Aaron applied to the School of Arts Tisch, of NYU.
Financially supported by his mother, he no longer needed his father. This
caused for Gregory to break ties with his son who left the house in the middle
of the night taking with him only his portfolio of drawings and his motorcycle,
and have a fall out with Lucinda.
Gregory would never forget the strength and determination that was reflected his sonís face at that time. His eyes glistened like blue green wild fire while he put on his black leather jacket and put on his helmet over his shoulder length chestnut colored hair. When the roaring engine of his Harley Davidson was ready to go the young man had looked back once towards one of the window. That was the only room without a light on in the whole mansion, and Aaron knew that from the darkness his father was watching. Revving up the engine of the bike, the young man turned around and left. His father wouldnít see him again for a very long time.
had the arrogant and bitter Aaron accepted his motherís help? Well, in truth he
would have like to make his way on his own, but had he not, his goals would
have been impossible to achieve. During his high school years, Aaron had been
forced to study in a Presbyterian school, whose rules were very strict and the
traditional education suffocating. Way too smart and restless to adapt to that
hadnít gotten the best grades, in part because he frequently missed class, and was content with just making the passing grade, that was for him was only too easy. It wasnít until a few months before graduating, when he decided to study art, that he had lamented not being more disciplined and less willful. Had he had good grades he could have gotten a good scholarship. But with his performance at his high school, even with money it would be hard to get into his chosen school. So Aaron had to swallow his pride and turn to his mother for help in order to continue with his studies.
Even after Aaron unwillingness, the circumstances ended up breaking the ice
with his mother, and little by little Lucinda and his son got close again. That
way the young man left for New York where he started to study, for the first
time with genuine interest in the courses he was taking. But soon his abilities
started to surpass the contents of his subjects and Truman got a fame for being
the student that with no effort got the best grades of his classes in drawing,
theory of color, and painting.
Lucindaís father died towards the end of Aaron's first year in college, leaving a sum of money for his grandchild. Without thinking about it the young man used that little inheritance to get a small apartment in Manhattan that he soon turned into a living studio. Causing among his classmates some jealousy, since they had to live in the dorms, without much space for either their art or their weekend dates. Ironically, Aaron didnít use those privileges like some his classmates would have.
He had had a couple of light relationships, but mostly out of curiosity than anything else, and he used to say he was sorry for wasting his time. His friends thought he was crazy for not using his apartment to its full potential. He had money available by way of his mother and he was notably attractive but the young man preferred to keep his capricious and mostly indifferent attitude. It was as if every new girl he meet confirmed his theory that he didnít care much for love and love didnít care for him either. At least thatís what he used to say.
But this young man kept in secret a type of obsession that he carried since childhood. He couldnít remember exactly how or when it had started but it been going on for years, suffering the same recurring dream that bothered him a couple of times a month and sometimes even more than once a week. He couldnít say it was a night mare, but for the most part he was left with an annoying sensation, like emptiness, frustration and deep sadness that he couldnít explain.
When he was a child, the dream used to start in a room with old furniture, where a ten year old Aaron was sitting by himself at the edge of a bed while he read a book whose title he could never read. There was a knock on the door and he would go see who it was but there was nobody. Then Aaron would run through hallway yelling to see if there was somebody there, to then get to the door that went outside of that place that smelled of cloister and reclusion.
the moment he went out of that dark building, the ambient changed. There was
sun like a summer morning and you could see the nervous flight of the
dragonflies over a green valley that smelled of fresh herbs, like after a
morning shower. Aaron then would hear a voice that called him with a name that
wasnít his and that he could never remember after the dream. But in the dream, Aaron knew that the voice was calling him, and he would turn around searching for her until he found a girl of about one or two years younger than him in the distance, but he could barely see her. She had golden hair and was smiling to him from a distance to then turn around and run into the woods nearby.
Aaron then felt the need to run after her, as if he had found a lost friend from long ago, but the girl was much faster than he was and he could never catch up to her before the dream was over. When that happened, the boy would then wake up in the middle of the night and without having the time in mind, would turn on the light of his bedroom and grabbing paper and pencil would draw that little girl whose face he could barely make out. That way with the passing of the years, Aaron made a strange collection of drawings of blond girls whose face only contained a smile.
At the same time that the boy had grown the girl from the dream had changed as well. While he was becoming a man, she was growing into a woman and with time she was allowing him to get closer, and her face that had been covered by a fog before could be seen clearly now. That way Aaron could draw her in more detail. Her blond hair was rebelliously curly, her eyes green like emeralds, a short and pointy nose, and a wide and sincere smile on her lips, which with the years became very troubling to the boy, and a very pale skin, with a few sprinkled freckles across her nose that moved when she smiled at him.
While his artistic talent developed more and more, his drawings became astoundingly real, and then they turned into painted portraits of a young woman that always had a peach color dress on. Without even noticing the woman from his dreams had him completely fascinated, and the attraction that he felt for her could not be compared to any other that Aaron had felt for a real woman.
In the last year the dream had become more intriguing and even painful. The young woman still smiled in the beginning, but when he started to run after her he could notice that she was crying. Then she would turn towards him and he could see her face covered with tears just before the dream ended. The young man would then wake up crying bitterly as well, and in those times he was thankful for not having a roommate. He would look for his drawing materials frantically to sketch a new composition.
The days passed and the months and another year came to an end. Michie and
Faith were still busy with the school workload, and between the strong emotions
of the final exams, the weekend parties, the agitated love life of the Peruvian
girl and Faithís never ending to do list, who never tired of meddling in other
peopleís lives. Though she always had the best intentions of trying to fix
things, they didnít always work out for the best.
Michie and Faith had already gotten used to the ďtreasure roomĒ that had turned into both girlís study, and where they spent a lot of time preparing for their classes and school work. Even though with time a familiarity with your surroundings happens, Faith still felt a strange fascination towards the room and everything that was in it. But she couldnít find the reason for the weird feeling that she got whenever she was in the room, especially if she was alone.
top of that, since the first day that had gone into the closed off study, for
an unknown reason and in sui gťneris conditions, the young blond had
started to suffer from a kind of out of body experiences. Those weird moments
were the soul seems to leave the body behind to then submerge itself in old
dear memories, dreams, hopes, and hidden sadness. The funny thing was that
Faith didnít feel like herself in those moments, and she lived for a few
seconds through the images that she could only see in her head, and that she
The scene of the young man running down a flight of stairs keep repeating again and again, always leaving her with a deep sensation of melancholy that strangled her chest as if she had forever lost someone very important and dear. After she came back from those episodes the young woman spent a few days very depressed and only got better thanks to her strong willpower and that never ending energy that moved her to help others more than herself. Michie noticed that in more than one occasion her friendís sadness, but she thought that it was because she missed her mother. So she just tried to keep her company and insist in going out to have fun, so that the dark mental clouds that worried Faith could be lifted.
that dark sky only got darker, and her visions were now happening more often,
and always with the same result. Finally one night, things took an unexpected
Michie had gone out with a law student that she had just met at a party, and Faith had stayed at home to finish up a paper for one of her classes. The apartment was totally silent, and you could only hear the pinging of the rain on the window and the clicking of the keyboard where Faith was furiously typing.
It was then that it happened. Lightning illuminated the whole apartment, more so than the little lamp that Faith was using, and right after that, the room turned pitch black. The girl was lamenting for the hundredth time that she didnít have an external power source that would allow her to keep working even with the blackout.
girl got up from the desk where she had been working, same one that had been
there when they found the treasure room. She was about to get to the kitchen in
search of a candle, when the electricity came back. She ran to the computer to
investigate how much of the paper she had been able to save.
To her great happiness she hadnít lost one line, but the good news fell second when the astonished eyes of the girl got to the end of the page and realized that by mysterious or crazy that it seemed there was a new line written, better yet a few words that she hadnít typed.
Rubbing her eyes she reread the monitor screen, without being able to accept what was so evident. There in front of her, in the same font that she was using, you could clearly read.
ďThe hidden bottom of the second drawerĒ
Faith thought that she was about to go crazy, and in a last effort to regain her sanity she erased the message that seem like a bad joke played by Michie, but since the girl wasnít in the room it was impossible for her to have done it.
blond shook her head trying to clear her mind and with shaky fingers tried to
keep writing. But after a little while her fingers
werenít responding anymore. It seemed like her eyes were fixed on the second drawer of the desk, and without being able to help herself the girl opened it and took all of its contents out, with an inexplicable anxiety.
ďThe hidden bottom of the second drawerĒ
She kept repeating to herself while she took pencils, paper clips, erasers and other objects until the drawer was empty.
ďThe hidden bottom of the second drawerĒ
With shaky hands she touched the bottom of the drawer until the tip of her fingers felt a groove in one of the sides. She pressed her index finger and the piece of wood moved easily aside, to leave the way open to the dusty contents of the hidden bottom.Hidden maybe by many years, there laid a leather book with big pages. The girl took it in her hands and then the vision of another set of bigger hands, writing furiously over the pages of that book came to mind. Her vision ended and she felt really anxious, she cleaned the dust off with a rag they had to clean the monitor screen.
Immediately Faith opened the book and she realized that it was more of a notepad that in the first page had a handwritten poem that read:Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone, Silence the pianos and with muffled drum Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come. Let airplanes circle moaning overhead Scribbling on the sky the message She is Dead, Put crÍpe bows round the white necks of the public doves, Let the traffic police men wear black cotton gloves. She was my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday rest, My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song; I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong. The stars are not wanted now; put out every one; Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun; Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood; For nothing now can ever come to any good. (*) The girl recognized the poem, remembering it from her literature class in high school, but never before had it sounded so desolate and sad. Suddenly it was as if the pond of her most anguishing and bitter feelings had opened to let run all her other hidden sadness, even those that she ignored she had kept locked in her soul. The tears came to her eyes and she would have liked to leave the room, and throw that strange book into the fire, just the touch of it was making her feel an inexplicable and irrational sate of grief, but on the contrary a bizarre force made her keep reading what was written in the following pages. In the second page, with the same decisive letter, there was a date written: July 2nd, 1923.