Martiricos 2019

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MARTIRICOS is an annual publication of Málaga’s E.O.I. English Department. Its sole purpose is to make public the short stories that each year are short-listed in Málaga’s E.O.I. Short Story Contest, which can be entered for by all the students (any language) of all the Escuelas de Idiomas in Andalucia as long as the story is written in English. In this edition, 2018-19, the first prize has been awarded to Carmen Pérez Martín for the story “The Magician”, Alicia Ramirez Crespo has been the runner up with “Blue Morpho” while Anna Garashchuk has come in third with “Among Wheat Fields” The three of them will also be published in SUR in English.

MARTIRICOS Nº 18– MAY 2019 Panel of judges of XVII Malaga E.O.I. Short Story Contest Josefa García González, Alba Martín de Pedro, Amaya Fernández Alonso, Blanca Mª Lara González, Aránzazu Pereira Monedero, Mª Fernanda González de Cobos, Mª Dolores Ruiz García, Carmen Galán Jiménez, José Manuel Caro Méndez, Francisco de Asís Chinchilla Cruz and Marta Moreno López de Uralde. Sur in English. Proofreader: Manuel Castaño Editor-in-chief: Manuel Castaño. Internet Edition: Marta Perles: Cover: Alba Vázquez. Distribution: Libraries of all EOIs in Andalucía, UMA General & Filosofía y Letras, Diputación de Málaga, CEP, Delegación Provincial de Educación. Depósito legal: MA- 565 – 2003 Martiricos edición impresa: ISSN 2253-9875 Martiricos en internet: ISSN 2253-9859

Contents The Magician

Carmen Pérez Martín.......................................................................................................... 3

Blue Morpho

Alicia Ramírez Crespo......................................................................................................... 4

Among Wheat Fields

Anna Garashchuk................................................................................................................ 5


Irene García Fernández....................................................................................................... 7


Ronda Osorio Castillo......................................................................................................... 9

Let me hug you

Ana M. González Postigo.................................................................................................... 11

Unforeseeable Findings

María de la Luz Tovar Salvador.......................................................................................... 13

The day I became a Monster

Victoria Pavón Molero......................................................................................................... 15

The next rendez-vous

Luis Martínez Moreno......................................................................................................... 17

The Spirit of the Forest

Fernando José Partida Sepúlveda....................................................................................... 18

The Magician Carmen Pérez Martín

Born in Granada in 1976, Carmen is a qualified pharmacist by the University of Granada. She is currently working as a Vocational School teacher. Among her hobbies are reading, writing, mountain sports, music and the cinema. When the magician pulled that dead pigeon out of the top hat, the audience fell silent. Then he held a revolver and pointed at them one by one. A skeptical chill spread through the room. The disturbing makeup of the artist reflected an icy image, as if the tricks with which he had entertained the crowd until then were only artifices used to lure them into that macabre trap. While the illusionist was aiming at them silently, his look hardened. The uncertainty about the tenor that the show was taking had left everybody paralyzed. Taking advantage of the surprise, the magician lowered the weapon, opened it and extracted all the bullets. He showed them moving his hand from side to side so that the audience could count them carefully. Eight. Then, very slowly, allowing everyone to see all his movements, he took one, loaded it, closed the gun and spun the cylinder: they were going to play Russian roulette. The public remained expectant, not knowing what to think. Their eccentric host had invited them to a party in his house, as on other occasions. Anyone would say that he enjoyed surprising his guests, testing their limits and observing their reactions, but this time he was not in the room. The magician now moved with stealth on the small stage located almost at eye level with the viewers, like a poacher stalking his prey. He stood next to a fat man in the front row who, pale and sweaty, looked at him, terrified. He aimed at his forehead and fired. The sound of the hammer hitting the firing pin resounded in the room. The man, unable to react, opened a pair of frightened eyes. Then, he snorted and slipped down the chair, holding his chest with his hand. The magician smiled at him as if it had been fate and not him who wanted to spare his life. Then, he walked away slowly and went to the other side, selecting a new victim. The host’s wife made a nervous gesture and turned around looking for her husband once more. She scanned the room anxiously, but couldn´t spot him in the semidarkness. She could barely control her agitation. She did not want to disturb the rest of the audience even more, but she found the whole situation too strange. She reached for her cell phone into the bag that was hanging on the back of her chair without success. Then she heard a few steps coming towards her. She turned her head and saw the pistol inches away from her head. She jumped up, stepped back and gave the magician the challenging look of a cornered beast in her last moments. He fixed his unhinged eyes on her, tensed his arm and shot. Nothing happened. Before anyone could react, the artist returned to the centre of the stage laughing with irony. He looked at the observers mockingly, placed the barrel on his temple with a theatrical gesture, paused and pulled the trigger. The sound of the shot caused a tremor that expanded throughout the room. The man collapsed heavily on the ground with his eyes open and a stupid expression of surprise. His black cape flew and covered him completely as blood trickled from beneath. At the end of the room someone fainted. The buzz of death rose to the ceiling. From the first row, almost in shock, a boy sprang to his feet, approached the corpse and lifted the cloth cautiously. There was no one underneath. At that moment the host entered the room clapping and laughing, shouting “bravo”. His wife swung to him furiously. This time he had gone too far. 3

Blue Morpho Alicia Ramírez Crespo

Born in Jaén in 1976, Alicia holds a degree in Translation and Interpretation by the University of Granada. She works as a public servant and is a passionate reader and traveller. Among her favourite reads she includes Mary Shelley, Jane Asutin, The Brontë Sisters, Virginia Wool, Patricia Highsmith and many others. This is her first time ever to get published. Anne was on her way home after a long and stressful day. Her life had become a meaningless daily grind. She worked, ate and slept, and started over again every day, as in an infinite loop. She had worked so hard to achieve her professional goals that she had forgotten about her personal life. Or maybe that was her goal: to forget. Every day, when she came back home, she promised herself to change, to look at herself in the mirror without glasses. Nevertheless, the next day she would do the same: work and more work. It’s so easy to fall into a routine, to find reasons not to do something, not to come out of your shell. However, unexpected life events happen, everything can change in an instant, and that day would be the day that the flutter of a butterfly’s wings would change everything. When she got to her apartment, she found an old red suitcase in front of the door. She thought it might belong to her neighbour, Jane. She was a pilot and her best friend in town, so she decided to keep the suitcase until her return. As soon as she took it into her living room, Leona, the cat, came over to sniff it. Its smell was a complete story to her. We, humans, use our eyes to read stories; cats use their nose to smell them. Leona climbed onto the suitcase, causing it to fall and open. Music came out of the suitcase. Music she had heard a thousand times, music which transported her in time and in space. The music was coming out from an old wooden music box. The lid had a drawing of a four-pointed star. She opened it and she saw a butterfly breaking out of its chrysalis, twirling as the music played. It was a Blue Morpho, one of the most beautiful butterflies ever, which gets its name from the Greek epithet for Aphrodite. She saw herself as a child, in her grandma’s house, listening to the same music, hidden in the basement. Inside the red suitcase there was a letter and a flight ticket beside the music box. The letter had her name written in large curved handwriting: “To Anne”. She opened the envelope. As she held up the letter, her heart started to beat very fast, she knew this handwriting. She had received many letters from the same person a long time ago. The person to whom she had given her first kiss, in her grandma’s basement, while she was listening to the same music that she was listening to now. “Dear Anne, I could tell you that I’m tired of pretending, I could tell you that I’m braver than ever, I could tell you that I finally understood who I really am, and I wouldn’t be lying. But, I wouldn’t be honest either. The truth is simpler than that. I’m dying. All of us are dying in some way from the moment we’re born. But now, I’m aware that my life is really short, as that of a butterfly. And, like a butterfly, I have broken out of my chrysalis. I don’t want to be the great pretender anymore. I want my last kiss to be with the same person I kissed for the first time, with no need to hide in the basement anymore. Fly with me, wherever the wind may take us. Waiting for you, Olivia” A tear rolled down her cheek. She didn’t know if she felt sadness or happiness, or both. She opened the music box again and thought, while looking at the twirling butterfly, that this would be the easiest decision she would ever make. 4

Among Wheat Fields Anna Garashchuk

Anna was born in Jabarovsk, Russia. She was part of the Doctorate Programme for economy by the University of Málaga and has published an article on European and Asian economy. She confesses to be a passionate for classical Russian and English literature. Last year she came in fourth in our Short Story Contest with her short story entitled On the Edge. This is her second time publishing. David was one of my high school mates. You know, one of those bloody charismatic blokes that all girls always fall in love with. I wouldn’t say he was handsome, not even ruggedly handsome, with his enormous hooked nose, medium-sized pitch-black shifty eyes and thin, bloodless lips. Actually there was something devilish in his sophisticated gaze and cunning smile. Rumor had it that he was secretly in love with me. However, a friendship developed between us, at first an uneasy one, then more and more solid – at times looking more like rivalry. We always competed to see who got better marks or who was the most amusing and popular in our crew while still seizing every chance to mock each other. Well, long story short, let me tell you about something extraordinary that happened to us on 31 October. That evening the plan was to go together to our friend’s ancient country house to celebrate Halloween. So, David asked me to pick him up from the gas station where he was moonlighting as an attendant. That year I decided to dress up as an angel, don´t ask me why. As it was a peak hour in that direction down the main road, I decided to do what I had already adopted as the best strategy, that is to drive around the traffic jam by using the narrow unpaved country road among wheat fields that only local farmers knew about. So, I was driving alone singing just released local hits without a care in the world. Suddenly a nun with big sunglasses stepped out of the bushes and stuck out her thumb. I stopped. The first thing I could think of was that on the eve of Halloween someone had decided to play a hilarious joke on me. Although I must say that in spite of her eyes being concealed because of the darkened glasses, she looked so damned authentic in her nun’s robes that I was about to exclaim “Nice gear, mate!”, but a higher power buttoned my lips. “Where are you going?” – I asked her hesitantly. “It’s near, my daughter, just over the gas station” – replied the nun in a polite but strangely static voice, almost as monotonous as the fields behind her. She got in the backseat. Again I reminded myself that it was Halloween. Best not to say too much and just let the prank play itself out. However, the more I kept checking her pale, almost transparent and emotionless face in my rear view mirror the more I was convinced she was a real nun. I started feeling uncomfortable in my ridiculous ‘angel’ outfit. Maybe it offended her? “I need to pick up my friend at the gas station” – I apologized. She only nodded at me in the rear view mirror. At the station I saw David all dressed up. “My God,” I gasped, “not THAT!” - It was an authentic devil in the flesh! He could not have done a better job! Nun, devil and angel in the same car, can you imagine?! But who would have thought I would meet a nun on 31 October among wheat fields while on my way to collect the Devil himself! Knowing David, I was pra5

ying he would refrain from inappropriate jokes. However, he greeted me without fanfare and got in the front seat as if oblivious to the nun sitting in the back. “I have to give my passenger a lift, just behave yourself!” I implored him. He seemed confused but did not say a word. Odd. But I ignored it, worrying about our ridiculous costumes instead. I had no choice but to drive on. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before the nun said abruptly “Here”. “But there is nothing around here besides wheat fields!” I exclaimed. “We can bring you to the exact place, no problem!” She did not hesitate in her reply. “There is a path toward God here, but not everyone can find it. Just leave me right here”. I shrugged and stopped my car. “Thank you my dear, you are an angel indeed. And don’t soil yourself with a man like this devil. He is not your destiny. Angels and demons don’t belong together.” She slid out of the car. I smiled at her. However, as I glanced back, I couldn’t spot her. Apparently, she had vanished into the wheat fields. I stopped my car again. “Where is she?” I asked David . “Who?” “The nun!” “Which nun?” “My passenger, who else?” “What the hell you are talking about? Why did we stop again? I thought you were taking the mickey out of me because of Halloween, talking to yourself like that. Stop having me on! Let’s go!” The short conversation with David made my blood run cold. Despite being scared stiff I tried to conceal it and continued driving. We were quiet the entire rest of the trip. During the celebration David became his usual self, but I kept thinking about that nun from the wheat fields. Nevertheless, in a few hours David started getting nervous, asking everyone if they had seen his friend Mary. The doorbell rang. Everybody began whispering and giggling. When Mary appeared in her nun’s robes and sunglasses, David and our crew collapsed in laughter. Never had I felt so foolish and deluded. “Well done Mary! Great job! Impeccable! I almost believed you!” David was glorifying her while dying with laughter. However, Mary remained silent and seemed a little surprised. “Come on! Stop playing!” he exclaimed. “I don’t know what you are talking about. I fell asleep and woke up just two hours ago, too late for your prank. I’m so sorry about that.” An abrupt silence fell where laughter was supposed to erupt. With a snide grin that I had no control over, I stared at David. He immediately looked away, and despite all that paint smeared over his face I noticed him growing pale as death.



Irene García Fernández Irene was born in Almería, where she took a degree in Biological Sciences and currently works as a pathology Research Technician. She loves English and reading thrillers and admits to be developing a passion for writing. She has published several papers in scientific journals. Last year she published The Bucket and the year before My Soul in Tears in Martiricos. She is undoubtedly one of our most prolific writers. Liam Ryers woke up determined to do it. He had put it on ice five times in a row, but today would be the day. In spite of the wintry weather, he got unhesitatingly out of bed, barefoot and half-naked, without feeling cold at all. ‘TGIF,’ he smiled to himself. However, the contentment of getting everything in place didn’t last so long. It had been snowing outside and the fogged windows brought to his mind excruciatingly painful memories of her. Liam, 53 years of age, had been missing his dead wife every day for more than ten years. His son was the only shred of warmth beating in his frozen heart. Completely sunk in deep mourning, the more time elapsed, the darker his thoughts got. It was being an uphill month. He would never have imagined ending up as lonely as he was, let alone being so miserable and wretched. He was down in the dumps; Sibyl’s death had left a big hole in Liam’s life, and to add insult to injury, Connor wasn’t coming for Christmas. Downhearted, he recalled the last call to his son. Connor had told him that he seemed aloof; but so did Connor, Liam perceived. As a matter of fact, Christmas was a tough time for both. ‘Don’t be a stranger,’ he told his son before putting the phone down but thinking ‘Lost soul! Why on earth would somebody put up with such dismal company?’ And then, he found himself again thinking of it, the sentiment that bothered him, the one he’d got used to being burdened with. He sighed and prepared some coffee. Liam and Sibyl used to share long walks along the beach towards nowhere, and believe it or not, during these momentous occasions there was nothing but themselves. It was as though the world switched off for an instant while a tender gaze, a sweet kiss or a gentle caress was being given. Although they would hardly make ends meet, they used to be really joyful. The first time they met, he had a crush on her at once. She was so gorgeous that he couldn’t take his eyes off her. When she met his eye and she told him with a giggle ‘You’ll wear my face away,’ she grabbed him completely. Liam was head over heels in love from that day on. She was something else. Shortly after, Connor was born, going straight to their hearts, which united them even more. The family was blissfully happy, albeit fairly scared as a result of the delicate political situation Ireland was embroiled in. Terrorism would make the population frightened, and that bloody year did make history by causing hundreds of deaths. Actually, Sibyl started being afraid of getting out. She seemed to be so blue, somehow, a prisoner in her own home. Liam couldn’t bear to see her in this way. Therefore, Liam decided to coax her into going out for a while. She was reluctant at the beginning. She didn’t feel like going out, but eventually, she agreed tentatively. They went for a walk on a street and suddenly shooting began. In the crossfire she was wounded to death. That ordeal totally changed Liam’s life. ‘Had we stayed at home, she wouldn’t have gone for good.’ Liam beat himself up for that every single day. The sound of the coffee bubbling in the coffee pot cut into his thoughts. Its scent filled the 7

room. Considering what he was about to do, he was rather calm. What’s more, he relished every second of it. He poured himself a mug and sipped it without a trace of hurry. ‘Strong, ambrosial,’ he enjoyed each mouthful. He was dressed all in black as usual and, in the blink of an eye, he got ready to leave the house. He had a look at his reflection in the mirror. ‘All sewn up,’ he muttered, and he slammed the door. He had arrived at the spot before expected. ‘Sweetheart, it’s bound to be a day to remember,’ he whispered. ‘The only thing missing is pressing a button so that such an unbearable pain vanishes.’ He was standing looking at the train station in the distance, shuddering involuntarily at the sight of it. ‘Nine o’clock, perfect.’ Having transformed himself into a misanthrope with the only obsession of retribution, his rotten heart turned to rust that day. ‘Scum, you make me sick,’ he snapped at the air. At the drop of a hat, he detonated the bomb while hissing, ‘Daft idiots’. It actually triggered a cathartic effect on Liam’s chest. The euphoria of revenging started growing into him for one split second. Nonetheless, it wasn’t as expected. Just a tiny phut blew up, and the whole station was filled up with cops straightaway. ‘Sod it,’ he shouted getting into his car and driving insanely. Later on, Liam was walking back and forth edgily with the TV on in the background. The news drew his attention, so he fumbled among the cushions for the remote control and he turned up the volume. The newsreader was saying, ‘An unsuccessful attack has taken place in St. George Station this morning. The defective device, composed of 13 kilograms of plastic explosive, would have destroyed the whole station. The police reported a twentysomething fatal victim.’ He turned it off and threw the remote control angrily away. Not only was he outraged, but he was also pretty sombre, since the heartbreaking emptiness hadn’t disappeared whatsoever. He put a precooked lasagne into the microwave for dinner while checking his text messages. ‘Hi daddy, Merry Xms!’ The screen was blurred, his tears clouded his sight. He made an effort to go on reading, ‘BTW I’ll be in St. George station at 9 2day, CUL!’ He struggled to gulp, but he had a lump in his throat. ‘No more messages, no more calls.’ Liam tried to call him back unsuccessfully. He knew it, and with a ringing in his ears he tottered towards his armchair.



Ronda Osorio Castillo Ronda was born in Málaga in 1995 and this is her first time ever to get published. She is currently taking her Master’s degree in Education to become an English teacher. She enjoys reading futuristic dystopic novels and music. It was cold, freezing cold. I could feel my body lying on the snow, but could not see anything with my eyes closed. I was shaking so violently I feared that it was going to be the end of my life. I tried to move. I tried to scream, but the cold had paralysed me and any effort to fight against it was useless. Where was I? I tried to recall what had happened, but the trauma had affected my memory and I was unable to remember anything that had to do with my past. I wanted to cry, out of desperation. I wanted to stand up and seek for help, but my limbs were not willing to obey what my brain was commanding them to do. I tried to open my eyes and, once again, it was useless. Such was the pain that it felt like knives stabbing my bones, poisoning every part of my body. Suddenly, I heard something. At first, I thought it seemed like a whisper, but the warmth of it surrounded my whole self and, in some way, it felt like a breath that belonged to someone that was familiar to me. I was unsure of what the nature of it was but, all of a sudden, I realised I had stopped shivering. I was confused and also very sceptical about the origins of my recovered strength, but somehow it helped me to stand up from the snow. At that point I had managed to open my eyes. It was so dark I had to wait for them to get used to it. I looked around and saw lines of pines covered in snow slightly illuminated by the full moon that was standing on a cloudy winter night. I saw a path of stones that emerged from the trees that led to a hidden place in the dark. I saw tracks slowly disappearing under the coat of snow that was falling from the sky. And then, all at once, it struck me. I remembered myself running into the forest. I remembered the fear, the urge to get away. I remembered how some of us managed to escape before it was too late. All those days wandering through the forest and now I was the only one that had survived to the harsh conditions winter had brought. I remembered the loneliness, the hunger, the desperation and how I had lost all hope to find an escape from what my fate seemed to be. My clothes had turned into rags and my shoes were so worn out the snow had seeped through them covering my feet. I had been dehydrated for so long I could not even remember the last time I had eaten something solid. Soon after that, the memories of my last steps came to my mind. I remembered myself following the path for days, afraid that the snow would banish it leaving me disoriented in the forest. I remembered how I had lost all faith and how the tiredness had consumed all my strength. I remembered myself falling in the snow, unable to stand up as I had done many times before. How I had closed my eyes and waited for the pain to stop, and I remembered…I remembered the warmth of someone’s breath… I looked around, desperately, trying to see who had accompanied me during that night. -Where are you? – I asked the darkness – Please, come to me, I need to speak to you. There was no answer to that. Nothing more than silence. I turned around trying to look for any clue that would lead me to that person, but could not find anything more than the trees that surrounded me. 9

Soon afterwards I saw something. It was lying on the snow, not far from my position. I was unable to identify what the thing was, but my instinct told me I had to go and approach it. I started walking towards it while I was feeling chills going down my spine. The closer I got, the more certain I was of the nature of that thing. I then saw the torn clothes and worn-out shoes. I saw the hair, frozen after many hours of snowfall. I saw the eyes of a person that had been wandering through the forest for days. I saw myself, my last-self that had fought until the pain was unbearable‌ At that point I understood the suffering was over, my life was over. It was my dead body that I was looking at. I realised that what I had previously felt was nothing more than my last breath, before I had succumbed to my destiny. I found myself trying to feel any sort of remorse of my past actions, but there was nothing more than peaceful feelings inside me, and I was happy, glad to be free from all the suffering that had tormented me. I had finally stopped feeling lost. I turned around and walked, once again towards the forest. The sky was now clear, and the full moon was illuminating the branches of the trees full of fresh snow. I thought it looked magnificent. I had never before been able to appreciate the beauty of nature. I smiled to myself and then‌ I vanished.


Let me hug you Ana M. González Postigo

Born in Málaga in 1963, Ana M. has already completed her A2 in French by the EOI Málaga and is currently taking her C1.1 level of English at this very same school. She loves reading novels by Spanish and American authors, travelling and strolling by the sea. The new school year was coming, and you, at nine, felt so excited since you loved studying the most. Summer holidays are too long when you have nothing thrilling to do, but that year was going to be pretty different for you. Your older sister had been offered a job in a lavish hotel where she would be paid far more than what she was earning babysitting her teacher’s children; that’s why your mum, who didn’t want to leave the woman in the lurch, decided you could replace your sister and thus get another income source, which was so necessary at home. After all, since you had siblings, that job would be a piece of cake for you. The teacher cautiously pointed out: “She’s so small! … but she would only have to look after the kids, play and watch TV with them while I’m working and besides , on coming home, I’ll give her the daily lessons so that she won’t miss the course, as she is a bright student and got excellent marks last year.” Problem solved, the little girl was hired, and the conscience of adults was relieved; in your needy family there was never enough money, and the teacher would take care of your education outside school hours (an advantage of working for your teacher). The teacher’s promise vanished just a few days after being there. Barely did she even bother to give you a handful of lessons; that sympathetic and compassionate teacher! Regarding playing with the children, well, just when all the chores were done in a big house with two patios and plenty of pots in which there were always lots of dried leaves , then and only then, you might sit down to rest for a while before the baby’s nappy needed changing…once again. Your working day was from nine in the morning to nine in the evening, Monday to Saturday. On Sundays, you also had to go, but just to take the kids to the cinema (that wasn’t considered as work). You were allowed to go home after doing the washing up, of course. Staring at the brand new dishwasher, you wondered, with childish perplexity, why they wouldn’t want you to use it. You lived quite close, but at a distance enough to mark a clear difference between the stately houses in their street and your humble but decent dwelling in a working-class neighbourhood. You never felt ashamed about taking care of those children or cleaning their house; on the contrary, you were proud of being able to contribute with your little effort to the household economy. Every month, when you received your salary you came home holding your ‘green note’ very tight in your tiny hand, afraid of losing it, and you gave it to your mother as a present for that magnificent woman who had given you that priceless gift: your life. You were always cheerful, upbeat, and smiling; a carefree daydreamer. Your days were full of bright colours, in that oppressed country which the dark and sinister dictator persisted in dimming to grey. You were surrounded by the vivid red of the blood from your knees when you fell playing in the street and, the luminous green of the nearby fields with its orange trees, that gleaming white of your modest houses, the blue sky sometimes speckled with white clouds and the shining yellow of the southern sun. 11

There you turned ten and, unexpectedly, the evidence of the woman you would become, came to visit you and stayed. You doubled up with pain while you cleaned the bathroom or tried to calm down the baby’s tantrum, month after month, thinking that perhaps the time had come to give away your dolls. However, despite that, the job was all right. Mopping marble floors and caring for two kids was half the work than scrubbing concrete and screaming at your four little brothers. You could sample delicious food, being used to enjoying a simple but yummy meal. You discovered new flavours which you tasted with childlike enthusiasm. You felt happy in all senses, you cradled the baby, humming your grandmother’s tender lullabies or, at times, a song learned by heart from the radio. Your first working experience lasted almost a year, which made you grow up, mature in leaps and bounds, and become more responsible, not only for you but also for those of whom by whim of fate, you were in charge of, even if it was just for a few hours a day (in fact, many hours!). Soon after, you started looking at the boys differently, wanting them to share a complicit look, but far from it, you were not especially pretty, and they preferred their fights and pranks to your deep, green olive eyes. Then, you began to have a vague idea about how harsh love could be, that big selfish feeling which likes to make us suffer. You can’t imagine, my dearest girl who sleeps in my memory, how much you have taught me, since that year during which you were deprived of your education. How insignificant you make me feel. Observing your unconscious sense of security then, what tenderness awakes in me now, being so exposed to the risks of adult life! When I think about you, I feel an irrepressible desire to hug you, wrap you up and sing you the most beautiful tune, while caressing your soft brown hair and wishing you sweet dreams, my love. My darling, your adult self is incapable of doing anything but feel guilty for not having freed you from such a heavy burden which, although you lived it naturally, was so unfair. You turned it into a positive lesson of life itself. The woman I am is because of your generosity and bravery, little girl.


Unforeseeable Findings María de la Luz Tovar Salvador

Born in Málaga in 1990 she holds a degree in Enviromental Sciences by the University of Málaga. She works for an environmental consulting company. Among her hobbies are the cinema, the theatre, reading whodunits, sports and arts-and-crafts. This is her first time publishing. Soon after a vibrant sunrise in the cloudless sky, another winter morning was about to start. Indeed, I can still remember how the fresh cool and crispy air started whistling like an invisible ghost. I could hear the noise and see how leaves from deciduous trees moved in all directions and ended up just touching the glass of the closed window. The view of the landscape from that window was breathtaking. A few seconds later, my lean figure was silhouetted by the sun, one of the main reasons why I loved that brightly-lit laboratory! During that time, I was keenly studying the reason why fish mortality was increasing at a higher rate than expected in the Mediterranean Sea and its hypothetical connection with the marine water’s pollutants found there; some of them were substances unknown up until then, which could have potential adverse effects on human beings. Indeed, it was difficult to put a finger on what really had been the primary contaminator of these samples. For that reason, I should have kept my eyes open. Meanwhile, I was in this laboratory, sitting at my desk, exactly like every single workday during the last five years. I started off my routine analytical tests without much enthusiasm, because my research was not progressing well. Firstly, I began with chemical analyses with the aim of calculating the concentration of several listed contaminants on marine samples recollected from the Alboran Sea, that way some pollutants could be removed as possible candidates. Furthermore, I felt under pressure and overwhelmed since the aims of my ongoing research were not being achieved at all, and an inconclusive outcome was unacceptable. What is more, it seemed as though I was always working against the clock! Only after I had aced the assignments imposed on me would I be called for a meeting with my boss, so the sooner I did it the better. My boss at that time, a fifty-year-old strong-willed woman, didn’t waste her time talking around the real issue. She was never ready to give a token of appreciation for the daily effort of her employees. What an excellent proof of her haughtiness! Certainly, I was chided every time I thought outside the box. I vividly remember when my career began as I became a member of a biology-learning group and I was extremely excited about my new scientific projects. The university atmosphere gave me a very unrealistic expectation about real job positions. Successful team work in a multidisciplinary group was my idea of my future job. However, my boss shattered my enthusiasm when I found out the kind of tasks I would have to deal with, so my boss pricked the bubble of my expectations. “Poor light-headed young girl” was my first thought about myself when reality hit me. From time to time, I was idle in the lab due to the waiting times between one sample and the next one. That morning, I was really frustrated as there was no clear evidence and I was running out of ideas. For that reason, I decided to take a break. Immediately, I jumped out of my chair and went directly to the kitchen. Once there, I picked up a store-bought doughnut that one of my peers had brought in the previous morning. It was packed inside an easy-open plastic container so taking it out would be a piece of cake for me. 13

But my lack of skill and several unsuccessful attempts made me realize I’d better use my teeth to open it. When my teeth finally cut the plastic-transparent cover, a tiny piece of plastic got stuck on my throat. Consequently, I couldn’t stop coughing until I was able to dislodge it. Thanks to my fast reaction, I could easily control my breath and I could get my normal breathing back again. I went straightway to the bathroom, stood in front of the washbasin, opened the tap and washed my face. When I saw the running water from the tap, a sudden rush of ideas came to my mind, just one was certainly what I had been seeking for ages. Here it was! How could I not have realized that before? How could I be too blind to either see it or connect it with more global issues? I had carried out some tests in the wrong way, out of the main line of investigation. Actually, the solution to our concern had been in our daily life and I hadn’t even noticed, but the sun was coming out! Suddenly, I went back to the laboratory and, without wasting any time, I started to check each sample. The key would be inside fish and not related to water features. Without wasting a second, I got myself ready to dissect a fish and evaluate the contents of its stomach. As I supposed, the fish stomach was stuffed with a mass of numerous pieces of plastic. This was the harsh reality, fish mortality was produced by the ingestion of plastic and not by the presence of pollutants. Finally, I felt happy as a clam because I would have great recognition as a researcher but, on the other hand, I was aware of how much the environment was damaged. In my humble opinion, the conclusion was clearly supported. Pollution had already become part of our lives, silently. That meant if plastic reached and affected the marine ecosystems, everything would be endangered and contaminated from that moment on…


The day I became a Monster Victoria Pavรณn Molero

Victoria was born in Cรณrdoba but has been living in Mรกlaga for over five years. She holds a degree in Translation and Interpretation and is a confessed lover of whodunits and writing. She is also one of our most prolific writers, as she has been a finalist for our Short Story Contest for five years in a row. She loves foreign languages, animals and nature. She spent some time as a volunteer in Honduras, where she got the source of inspiration for this short story and her passion for teaching. The day was sunny and colorful in Nueva Capital. But before my eyes, everything was grey. Being only seventeen years old, I have seen and suffered as much as an adult. I am not a normal child. In fact, I never really had a childhood and this is the price I have had to pay for something that I did not want to buy. My scars do not speak, but they put into words the pain that my lips do not dare pronounce. Sometimes, the little scar on my shoulder, which is very close to my heart, stings. Even though it has been a long time since it healed, the bullet is still inside my body and it reminds me of what I was, what I am and what I will continue to be the rest of my life. A nightmare that chases me day and night and does not let me close my eyes. The tattoos, the golden chains, the white powder burning my nose and the bills run together in my mind, making me wake up covered in sweat in the middle of the night. The urge of vomiting does not abandon me. I think that if I did it I would be able to rid myself of the wrong things I have done and that lived inside me for long time. The remains are rotting and the stench is disgusting. I still remember the weight and the coldness of the Glock pistol on my hand, the fear I caused, the bullets I released. I also remember the color of the money, the smell of the drug and the flavor of temporary kisses. But, none of this was able to compensate for the pain I caused to the relatives that had to see how their loved ones died at the hands of people like me. People without mercy, without feelings. People without blood in their veins. I was not like them; they obliged me to be this kind of person. Only fourteen years old and one of the most violent gangs in Central America separated me from my mother. That was the first time that I had to say goodbye to my dear mum. The second time would be the last one. At gunpoint, my mother was forced to leave me. I could see the pain of loss in her eyes. The loss of her son. Few memories of my mum laughing happily do I keep. I did not have any other option but to adapt myself to my new and miserable life. They taught me to use the best weapons; I learnt how to shoot and not fail; they taught me to handle knives and machetes. They also taught me to do the most important thing, to survive in the middle of this battle. A life is not worth much in this country. There are things infinitely more precious such as money, drugs, or women. Days go by and you have to live with the reality hidden by luxury. Fear disappears or better still, you get along well with it. It is not your enemy; the real ones are the gangsters of the opposite gang. That day I ceased to be a person to become a monster and I realized that there was no way back. I entered a vicious circle. I was trapped. I did not want them to oblige me. They made me kill, stain 15

my hands with bright blood. They obliged me to see the pain of those mothers that, like mine, saw how their sons died. They forced me to hear the screams and sobs that followed me every hour like a ghost in white. I have experienced the physical pain; infinite beans - bullets - pierced my muscles, burning blades that cut my skin, hard hits that my body suffered but none of them hurt more than what happened that damn October 18, 2017 at 11 p.m. I woke up alarmed; I knew that something was wrong and I was not mistaken. I got up; I got dressed as fast as possible. Then I went to look for my mother. The most precious person I had. What I saw twenty minutes later hurt me so much that tore me apart. If my life cost was trash, now it cost nothing. To continue living did not make sense to me. The red puddle I found by my feet made me feel a shiver down my back. The warm sweat that covered my forehead turned to cold and the image of my mother falling down little by little made my legs shake. They got their revenge. I knelt before my mother´s body. I could not do anything except cry. I did not have the strength to stand up, take my gun and put a cap in the forehead of the person that had killed my mother. I simply cried, hugged the motionless body. When I raised my sight I was alone, truly alone. My beloved mother was not here, the woman that gave me life had just left without saying goodbye. That was the price I had to pay for something that I did not want to buy. Something that they forced me to buy. Now behind the bars that steal my freedom, I write the feelings that I cannot express out loud. All our acts have consequences. Everything in life has a price and that price could be extremely high. Erick, 2017


The next rendez-vous Luis Martínez Moreno

Luis was born in Alahurín el Grande and holds a degree in English by the University of Málaga. He teaches English to primary school children and is passionate for sports and crime fiction novel reading. After their first encounter, they decided to meet the following day but on their way back home something happened which intertwined their fate. Nothing turned out to be as expected. It all began on the train heading towards Folkstone (UK) from Coquelles (France) crossing the English Channel on a rainy afternoon. Oliver and Olivia were sitting on the last two available seats on the train. Oliver was a six foot tall twenty-nine year-old Spanish businessman travelling with the aim of making his technology business popular across all of Great Britain. Olivia, on the contrary, was an ordinary twenty-one-year-old girl looking forward to spending her first stay abroad in Great Britain as an Erasmus student for one year. The train chugged and left the platform on time leaving behind the greenish fields of the coast of Brittany to end up in the picturesque southern English town. Passengers rambled along the train. Oliver, thirsty, stood up from his aisle seat to stretch his legs and headed to the bar to take his daily thé noir. On the other side of the train, Olivia was reading her favourite Romantic English novel and thought it would be a good idea to brush up on her English skills by reading an English newspaper in the cafeteria, the “Daily Express” probably. In the buffet car, they bumped into each other and exchanged glances. He felt nervous, so unconsciously he spilt a few drops of his cup of tea on the newspaper at the moment she was carefully reading the headline “A car crashes causing several casualties.” Their eyes met and a timid smile was reflected in their faces. Apologies were not needed. As soon as they happened to meet, they knew they were made for each other. The conversation flowed with ease, laughs and smiles just came along. Everything went smoothly. It seemed that time had stopped and neither of them cared about the arrival time when suddenly the train driver said: “Ladies and gentlemen, we have just arrived at our destination, thank you for choosing to travel with us and we are looking forward to seeing you on board again!” They got off the train and walked towards the entrance of the train station. They exchanged phone numbers but neither of them managed to say goodbye. Words wouldn’t come out. Somehow, they knew that a farewell wouldn’t be good for them. They followed their own paths as they headed for their respective accommodation on foot under the gloomy English sky. He looked at his GPS on his phone searching how to arrive at the place where he was going to stay. She texted her friends on their WhatsApp chat group to tell them all about Oliver. Neither of them saw the cars. Sirens broke the silence of that night. It was cold outside.


The Spirit of the Forest Fernando José Partida Sepúlveda

Born in Málaga in 1994 Fernando José studied to be a primary school teacher and is currently preparing for those exams. He has completed his C1 levels of both English and French and is currently taking his first year in Modern Greek. He is keen on sports and films by Quentin Tarantino and Clint Eastwood. He published his short story War never changes in 2017 in Martiricos. This is his second time publishing. Once upon a time, there was a ‘jotun’ who lived in the depths of a luxuriant forest. In the middle of nowhere, Fafnir, member of a race of archaic giants, spent his life surrounded by revolting swamps. He was very happy there and lived peacefully. Never did he get out of the forest, and, actually, Fafnir didn´t even remember how he’d arrived there. One day, when Fafnir went hunting, something strange happened. As every Thursday, he took his wooden arch, prepared the arrows and started to walk across the swamps. Fafnir found a trace of what was supposed to be a medium sized prey. ‘What a lucky day’, he thought, and carefully and noiselessly he started to follow the trace. After a few hours, he was near the known limits of the forest and was thinking of coming back. Suddenly, a deafening noise frightened him. He slowly turned over and found five unknown creatures. Those animals were big, black haired and they had an elongated snout. Without batting an eye, the ‘jotun’ shot all his arrows, but only one hit the target. After that, he knew that he was in a life-or-death situation. Fafnir, without arrows, started to run across the swamps. The four uninjured monsters, with bloodshot eyes, followed Fafnir, repeating their ear-splitting noise time and again. Fortunately, Fafnir knew the forest like the back of his hand and eluded his pursuers by taking a shortcut. Finally, he was able to come back home and went to bed. The next morning he was glad to find out that he had no blood or injury and, with a big smile, thought that, after all, it only had been a nightmare, the worst nightmare he had ever had. However, in the opposite side of the forest, further than Fafnir had ever been, there was a small village that didn’t know about the ´jotun´ existence until that day. At the same time Fafnir was celebrating that he continued alive, a little population of hunters were discussing about sending a patrol to kill the giant who attacked their dogs. And they went for him with guns, torches, picks and shovels. The day passed astonishingly fast, and when the last drop of sunlight disappeared, the patrol searched for the heinous monster’s household. When they reached his house, the ‘jotun’ was preparing a delicious stew. Seeing all the men approaching, he tried to hide so that no one could see him. Nevertheless, they knew he was there and set fire to his home. Fafnir went out, and the men, thinking that the giant was furious with them, started attacking him ruthlessly with all their weapons. And, although the bullets could not penetrate the ‘jotun’s’ thick skin and all the attacks barely tickled him, the giant screamed full of despair because of the destruction of his house. Such was the hopelessness and the rage united in that little swamp that, while the trees were burning and their leaves were falling to ashes, Arya, the spirit of the forest, immersed in a hundred years dream, all of a sudden, woke up of her long lethargy. While she was still 18

opening her eyes, a heart-breaking feeling invaded her unexpectedly, provoking in her an excruciating pain, while tears appeared in her eyes. ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ Arya questioned the men. ‘I have protected the life in this forest for a thousand years, how dare you attempt to burn it all?’ Required the spirit really annoyed. Fafnir, enraptured by Arya´s dazzling beauty, calmed down and said: ‘ forgive them because they don´t know what they´re doing. These men think that I’m a monster who tried to kill their animals, but I’m just a peaceful giant, I don´t want any trouble. They wanted me to leave my home, but I am sure that they don´t want to destroy the forest’. Arya stared at Fafnir, and, for a moment, seemed to be reflecting on something else. After a few seconds, she returned to normality. With a voice both charitable and steady, she addressed the men with the following words: ‘the insolence of you, humans, is only overcome by your ignorance. I’ve looked into this ‘ jotun´s’ eyes. I know who he is and why he doesn’t remember his past. A long time ago, this man was Atreus, king of the forest. He was known because of his wisdom and temperance. But, unfortunately, he was bewitched by the harridan of this forest, who was jealous of his success. From then on, the king lost his memories and turned into a ‘ jotun’. But he’ll be released of his cursed fate if someone gives him a true love kiss’. The people of the village calmed down. The anger was transformed into sorrow and unease. However, none of those men would kiss the giant… Suddenly, a little girl who had stealthily followed the patrol, full of curiosity, appeared among the trees. She, slowly, approached Fafnir, and with the innocence and purity that only a child has, she kissed the giant´s big cheek, which was covered in mud. For a moment, time seemed to pause. The wind stopped blowing, and everyone´s heart missed a beat. Fafnir, the ‘jotun’, returned to his human form. Arya, the spirit of the forest, magically repaired Fafnir´s home and put out the fire. Eventually, the little girl observed how an odd pendant appeared around her neck. Arya vanished while saying the following words: ‘you, Freya, are the real saviour of the forest. I give you this necklace, a fairy tool for you to use my magic even when I’m far away. But never forget this: love is the greatest magic in the world. Nothing can we do without love’. Arya definitely disappeared, and Freya, Atreus and all the men returned to their town. Atreus recovered his reign and Freya grew up and helped him as his kingdom ambassador. All the men lived in peace forever, and nobody ever knew about the spirit of the forest any longer.




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