Cristina Martinez

My voice

The pitch is loud and calling.
Calling to others.
The pitch is wide and bold.
Opening bodies.
The pitch of myself is rude and strong.
Galloping on my black horse.

Making the invisible known.
Calling to others.
Opening bodies.
The pitch of myself is rude and strong.
Galloping on my black horse.

Cuts heads and arms.
Cuts and kills.
Opening bodies in two.
Calling to others.
The pitch is loud and calling.
Galloping on my black horse.

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Cristina Martinez

Oranges and Dreams

The blue sea is coming in through the windows.
She is sitting quietly in front of her wooden desk with the posture of a Queen.
She writes and writes and her burgundy pashmina slides softly onto her lap, brightening the darkness of the blue velvet dress.
Her white hands are still beautiful. Her nails perfectly clean and filed.
A small ceramic fireplace bursts with oranges and reds and the crackling logs break the silence of the room.
An old Persian rug defines the floor with little flowers, shapes and forms. The rug on which all her children played and walked, ate and grew.
Her hair is long and white, tied up in a round shape at the back of her head with an ivory stick. Only few locks of hair dare to escape the multitude and gracefully hang on the side of her wrinkled face.
“I went to the market this morning and walked straight to the pile of orange oranges and I couldn’t resist buying half a kilo for myself. I bought some vegetables but I forgot about the ginger and turmeric for my chest remedy. I got home and cut the fruit into pieces. I’ve used some cinnamon and honey and now my hands still smell of the sour and sweet tastes of my lunch.
Thank you Life for a delicious treat on this cold afternoon”.

I am eight years old but I don’t care because I know that I am much older than everyone thinks. I am sitting at my desk playing with papers from last year’s work at school.
I am somebody’s secretary.
I pretend that I am busy, that I have a life on my own and I don’t have time for anything else.
I am a woman pretending to be beautiful and desirable to men.
I am bored with my life, parents and brothers.
I don’t want to be here.
I would like my prince to come now and take me on his horse to Wonderland and never come back.
I don’t like my life nor myself.
I hate the world for being the way it is. I am safe here, in my room, with myself.

“Thank you Universe for my life and all the people that I have met along the way.
It is amazing! Such a long journey and yet it feels no longer than seven minutes.
I would never have imagined that my life was going to be like this.
Sometimes I ask myself, why so much worrying? Why all the excitement and pressure, if everything is so simple and beautiful?
Life is a miracle!
Every day brings whatever we need to be here for. Alive! To breathe!
And listen to my heart.
Wonderful stories of my heart in my chest drawer . Stories that I am going to write for my grandchildren. Stories that cannot die with me.

I am sixteen and about to get married. Everyone is telling me what to do, where to go, what to buy, even what to say on every occasion.
I am tired and I don’t want to keep quiet any longer. Fuck all of you!
I don’t want to get married.
I don’t want to have this baby. I don’t know if I want to be alive.
Don’t tell me what to do. Don’t tell me if it was right or wrong, just love me, please!
Don’t push me into the unknown. Don’t press my buttons and don’t set the pavement for me to walk on. I have hands and feet. I have two eyes and a head. I have a brain that works perfectly. So please, don’t tell me what to do with my life, just love me.
Can you love me? Here and now?

“I remember my parents when I was sixteen, pregnant with my first baby. Poor mother! She was so worried about what the people were going to say.
What a journey into life: pregnancy, travelling, divorce, children, yoga, projects, more children and helping the world to grow up.
Schools and food, love to spread everywhere.
Children that came like flowers in spring to my path, to me. Lives that I had the pleasure to witness and touch.
Thank you for my life.”

Her back rests against the chair. Her silver pen sleeps besides her pages and in her hands a clay bowl with some juice and honey left from her lunch. She is staring into the blue ocean, through the window. The constant death of the waves onto the shore and then back into the ocean again.

Cristina Martinez Ruiz

Outing

I am walking through a tunnel of white walls and shiny  floors.  Passing by dull green numbered doors,  until I see the picture of a lady with a skirt,  then right after it twenty two, the one  I am looking for. I push the door open.   My father lies  on the bed, covered by spotless white cotton sheets. He holds my brother’s hand. My mother sits in an armchair in front of them.

I remember  the day that my brother and father were going to the  London Car Exhibition. I think that that was in 1970 …

This is the third year in a row that are  they making this outing by themselves. They are getting  ready and talking about how to get to the exhibition. ‘We are going to see the Ferrari first, right Dad?’ Marc asks.

 All I want is  to fit in. Marc is only three years older than me but he has become my dad’s best friend. I don’t know what to do anymore, even my clothes suit a boy better than me, but anything will do. I ask  my father: ‘Dad, Dad!.  May I come  too? Please?’ He looks at me, looks back to Marc and then, after a few seconds that last  forever, he says: ‘Okay, my dear.’

Forty years after that day, he has been operated on for cancer of the colon.  I am a complete woman, feeling that no matter what he says  to me today, it is going to be okay.
 
My face presses against his sweating cheeks, my heart is beating so fast that I can only think about leaving, but something strange and bigger than the room  holds me softly by the wrists and keeps me  there.

Suddenly, I feel hot.

I look for a place to sit but all the chairs are full, so I stand in front of his bed . Everyone is looking at me and I don’t have a clue what to say next.
The three of us sitting silently in the car.

I am feeling dark and damp inside myself under my pants. It is almost night and the highway is full of cars, people coming and going. Where to, I wonder.

My mother knew, I am sure, she saw me leaving the house and she didn’t say a word. And then the embarrassment … Oh God! Why I cant be like my brother? Why I was born a girl…?

My fair skin is on fire, my cheeks and chin, my knees, even my hands are sweating. From here I can only see their backs. Them sitting in front, and me alone.

Alone again, on my own , facing them like a prisoner before execution. And then, I see my father’s right hand moving slowly to reach for mine. A spark of electricity travels through my body. His blue eyes look deep into my soul. His mouth opens.  I can see the movement, but  can’t hear a thing.

After few seconds I hear him say :‘I know how you felt the night we went to the motor show in London. I know that I couldn’t give you the reassurance you needed. You see, Anna!’ He takes an urgent inhalation. ‘You were eleven, your periods had started, something separated me from you and took me closer to Marc … Anna, my dear…’

If I could open the window and jump I would have done it already.

My mother is there, wearing her leopard skin  dress and stilettos, probably dreaming about lighting her next cigarette. She hasn’t said a word since I  arrived and I suppose that she will not do so until I leave.

I look at my father and I see an old man that I can’t recognize. His black hair has changed to a silver-blue colour. I see into his eyes for the first time in my life. I see a deep ocean  of greens. The  summit of an enormous wave and the  few drops that  escape  from  it.

‘I love you Anna, just the way you are.’

He said it! My ears can hear him, my head can  understand the meaning of the words but my body cannot react at all …

How I have needed to hear those words.

I still trying to swallow when I hear his voice again, ‘I am very proud of you and I will be happy if you are with your life. I am your father until the day I die.’

That day at the show I knew that I was never going to be my father’s son. Today, I know that I can forgive him and myself.

Half an hour later, I am walking down the corridor again. This time I am not looking for a green door but a crystal clear one. I see the reflection of myself and the smile on my face.

Cristina Martinez-Ruiz

Sunday  lunch

Jacob wears a white sports top and red shorts. He sits at the small table where he plays dominos every Sunday. He holds one of his king size cigarettes and exposes his three domino buddies to the joys of passive smoking.

Jacob places the lighter on top of the packet and holds the burning cigarette with his right hand. He exhales and the smoke evaporates around him like a dance of the Invisible Spirit, white dragon’s breath, leaving its burnt smell in its wake.

The door bell rings and nobody reacts. On the second ring Jacob stops the game and shouts to the room: “CAN SOMEBODY OPEN THE GATE?”

It is a Sunday morning in the middle of winter. The sun is high in the cloudless sky. The temperature feels perfect inside the red Wolkswagen where Lira is sitting, waiting outside the house for someone to open the gate. Her hair is tied up in a pony tale, like a sweet memory of childhood, and waiting there she remembers a time when she was only nine, lying on the grass while  her mother took pictures. It was a very special occasion for two reasons: they had a new baby girl in the family and her parents had just bought a puppy for their children.

Her fingers move slowly though her black hair, curling and curling the softness of her memory like she used to do in summer days when her cousins  would come to her mother’s house for the holidays.

Another sprinkle of her past returns to her.  ‘I remember lying on the bed next to my grandmother, her fingers touching my skin before I fell asleep.’

The gate starts moving.

With a sharp click Jacob places the double six chip on the marble table. Everyone stares at him.

Like a blurry red mirage, Lira’s car drives slowly past the window, heading for what used to be the marvellous tennis court.

Taking a last breath from the dying cigarette, Jacob closes the game for the fourth time in a row against his brothers- in-law. He thinks about other games of dominos: playing against his buddies when he doing his military service in Alicante. He was only nineteen then but … I can still feel  the satisfaction  of beating  whoever I was playing against  Oh! Yes, the day my buddy Juan and I won a thousand pesetas playing against two guys from the north of Spain They were so sure of themselves that they diced all the money they had for the month  and  lost it …

Jacob smothers the yellowish stub in the Arabic ashtray and pushing back the chair walks towards the entrance to greet his daughter. She is late yet again.  The smile on his face belies the anger that churns inside him, anger that bursts from the depths of his being and comes out in chunks from his  mouth …

‘Do you think this is time for lunch? Why are you always late? Don’t you have an alarm clock or would you like me to buy one for you?’

Before Lira  can answer him, the Muslim man standing next to her walks up to Jacob and introduces himself in a Spanish accent so strong it sounds ridiculous. One hand clutches a shabby green suitcase, the other he extends to Jacob.

Jacob doesn’t know what to say.

“Is Nazmie papa, my South African friend,” Lira says quickly, nervously. “We come from the airport that is why we are late.”

The family whispers and stares. Amid the clatter of pots, plates and cutlery Lira introduces Nazmie to them all. On the other side of the room, her mother lights a candle.
Jacob studies the young man, wonders what he has to offer his daughter. There’s only one way to test him …

“Do you play dominos?” Jacob asks.

Dominos

Sunday morning dominos
One cigarette after another
Laughs, drinks and rivalry
brother-in-law playing brother

The doorbell rings
Lira is late
Her memories surface
while Jacob waits

Gentle thoughts
of children at play
a new baby’s arrival
on a sun-warm day

Doubles and white
Black dots on the table
Jacob wins with pride
because he is able

A sudden surprise
He dons a fake smile
shouts in anger
Burnt feelings run wild

Meets a god at the door
Politely shakes hands
two worlds clashing
with a glance

Whispers and stares
as day turns to night …
the two lovers smile
by candle light.

Jacob, unsettled
by Lira’s beau
decides to best him
at dominos