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El Almendro

El Almendro Municipality, Ríos San Juan Department, Nicaragua


If ever there was a place that could smell of desolation it was the hut in which this chronicle begins. The walls were made of terra cotta clay and were as pale as if a ghost had just brushed against them. The wood floor was cracked in many places like the life of the middle aged man who sat gingerly on it. His hands were wrinkled, and his dexterous fingers busy whittling the piece of wood they now held with a chisel. A shapeless figure began to appear out of the wood, a human form. The man's long scraggly brown matted hair was flecked with bits of gray, and would occasionally brush the figure. Soon the figure was complete, and his adept hands moved the chisel to the face, a face worn from age, and loneliness. Two green eyes filled with knowledge appeared first, then a broken nose, scraggly sideburns and finally the long beard. It was a likeness of him, and he felt proud. He stood up and moved to the small three-legged table and got out a paint brush, and painted 'Robert Lawrence' on the figure's back. Robert Lawrence himself was as melancholy and lonely as his surroundings. Absent-mindedly he took the figure, and carried it over to the sink. His hands let go of the figure and it sank into the basin of cold water. A tear rolled down Lawrence's face and into his thick mustache his only solace in this forsaken place.

He wished now that he had never fled here to Nicaragua, but had stayed in the states biting his tongue about the blatant apathy afflicting the youth brought on by the technological age. Once he'd been a Berkeley Professor of linguistics, but the monotony of life had gotten to him. So he'd resorted to a scheme he'd been planning for years, a fantasy to run away to a place hardly touched by civilization. The Almendro province in Nicaragua was perfect. He'd faked his own death by drowning a mannequin of himself, and escaping on the bottom of a cruise liner. He thought he could find community here in a foreign nation, but he only rediscovered the constant pang of loneliness. He was a widower; his wife had died when he was young in a terrible car accident. He'd never fully recovered from his loss, and spent the next seventeen years whittling things out of wood. When his classes were over he would go to the forest, and find scraps of woodchips, and use them to carve his wife's name into the trees, until one day he found a piece of wood. He took it home and bought a chisel and began working. Every day after classes it was always the same. On campus he had become the linguistics professor who carved things out of wood. He didn’t mind the loneliness then, because the whittling made him think of his wife and this gave him peace. Somehow if he could ever carve her likeness out of the wood block before him, it would come to life, and he would be with her again.

Lawrence sighed, and slipped out of his reverie. Life was not simple. Those who worked hardest often did not receive their reward, and those who were lazy often stole more than was theirs. Lawrence was a master of two Baltic languages, three romance languages and yet no words could describe how much he had loved that woman. She was like an angel sent down into his life. He'd been a shy athlete at Oxford where he had gone as a Rhodes Scholar, and she had helped him come out of his shell. Not a day passed without him remembering the moment they'd met. Robert was just walking along the lawn looking up at the sky and thinking when he saw her. She was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. After a few minutes, he thought of a subject to speak to her of, and headed over. It was a romance like no other Robert was crazy for and she was crazy for him. Here name was Anne. Her family lived in Glasgow, and after they both graduated Robert sought her father's permission to marry her. They got married, and although there were arguments, they loved each other more than life itself.

But one day Anne was driving home from work, and a drunk driver swerved in front of her. Robert was teaching a lecture when he found out. It felt like a thousand pound steel block had just smashed in to his chest. That was the day Robert's spirit died. Now he was just a ghost seeking his wife, by chiseling wood. Robert knew his life was far more meaningful, and that he should move on, but he never did. He went to the window opening it and felt the cool night air whistle in. The night air soothed him, and was almost like a salve for his inner wounds. He looked out and saw the long black trunk and branches spreading up from it. It was a beautiful almond tree, El Almendro. And before Robert died he would carve his wife from it.





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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

susiexoxo said...
Nov. 25, 2009 at 6:08 pm
that was such great wording,and it seems as though it was written from an adult rather than a teen,such a beautiful story.
 
Sofia Glory said...
Jan. 28, 2009 at 3:35 pm
This story about true love touched my heart.
 
Jeff Lein said...
Jan. 22, 2009 at 10:26 pm
I love the story. Good imagination and wording.
 
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