On the afternoon at the end of December in which Eulogio Serrano decided to return the magic that had been lent him, he took his children to the field so that they could see the scratched tablets of the preserve and the measles of little glass bottles that had come out of the ancient olive grove of his father. For years he had had a mortgage of stories nailed in his conscience that forced him to cut his way through dandelions and nettles and tell his children that all loans, especially the care loan, always had to be repaid in full.
The olive trees, abandoned and defeated by the insistence of nature, had embedded the old penicillin bottles that his father had punctured in the holes in the trunks and where he kept stories and dense little phrases. As soon as Eulogio brushed the tips of his fingers against the embedded asses of the jars, the memories rose up his arms like coffee rises through the sugar cubes, and he soon realized that those words were still attached to the potreras of cotton that made her father’s stories come out sweet and believable. And he remembered how the carols that came to the olive grove dragged by the air from the tower hurt in his guts as a child, and in that world of narrowness, where the only thing that could be widened was his head, his father softened his cold mornings with tales of borage and lavender so that the work in the fields at Christmas would not etch a bitter copper taste on his palate as if he had spent his childhood sucking on church bells.
At that time there were few men who knew how to take weight off sentences and tell light stories that would sift through the roughness of the countryside, there were few because the words Christmas Eve and New Years were raw, and although they were beginning to cook in the hot breasts of some entire families, such as His had been cut in half for years, they still didn’t smell of nougat or rice pudding and cinnamon, but of early rises with icicle and Moorish olives.
That is why, in the middle of the olive grove, he told his children that that day in April, when it was completely dark in the mine and the water that flooded the galleries reached him above his ankles, he clearly remembered when his Father used to tell him that there were dragonflies, fat as dairy cows, with wings of tanned leather and their backs full of flint stones. And that they were so strange creatures that they still didn’t even have a name, but that, by dint of eating gutter bundles, green nettles and borriqueros thistles, they had burning that made their stomach flare out of their mouths. And on that December afternoon he repeated it to his children with long silences until they told him excitedly, that those had to be dragons, papa, surely they were dragons.
And then he told them that in the midst of total darkness, when outsiders believed him to be drowned and when the humidity of the mine tunnels began to soften his skeleton and courage, the image stuck to the inside of his eyelids. of his father in front of a ramón candle, and the memory of when he told him that he had heard of damsels who gave gibberish kisses that made the toads learn to speak in German, and that with an olive tree vilorta, the same made rain They made a carriage out of a pumpkin, and he shrugged his shoulders until his children explained that those things were only made by fairies, Dad, they were fairies for sure.
And when the boundaries between the real and the fabulous began to blur, Eulogio Serrano had to explain to his children that when he believed that he was drowning in silence at the bottom of that hole, almost accidentally and as a need of the spirit, he began to tell out loud the prodigious story of some Princes who brought gifts to children for the simple fact of being. And he remembered when his father told him that they came from a place so remote that to place it on the maps they had to call it the Far East, but that since we lived so close to sunset, the Princes always arrived with the year over and many times only with the drains from the bottom of the bags. His father told him that in order to balance the distribution, they decided to send an embassy of hardworking laborers so that the pages of the Princes could explain to them the operation of the East, but they got so old along the way that they did not remember what they heard or what what they saw; and they only brought a tattoo written in Aramaic and spread over the arms of the gang that said that one day everything would change, that the day those Princes decided to come around the other way, they would arrive, this time, before the solstice and we would be the first to see them and the first to dream of miracles.
But Eulogio Serrano did not want to tell his children that while the magicians found their way to the west, that generation grew older waiting for the day they could choose the color of the balls, the hair of the dolls and the taste of the candies. However, his voice was rounded off to tell them that, although he was born whole and with all his male pieces, when the Christmas carols sounded in the tower, his son’s mechanisms would turn off because they smelled of penicillin and broken family. And that is why, and a little after shaving the fuzz from his mustache, without his father knowing it, he wrote a secret letter to the Princes in his nursery school handwriting, and asked them to remove it from the mud, to remove it from the olive grove. December cold, that they hide him where the carols of the tower could not be heard, that they hide him where he did not see his past, and he asked it with such passion that they turned off the sunlight, they erased the seasons, they silenced him. the thrushes and the twisters and they brought him coal making him a miner.
And he went on to tell them that while he was becoming a man, his spirit and mustache turned black because the wise men from the East exchanged the clay from the olive grove for coal from the mine. And against her father’s will, she began to work chopping in the tunnels of San Agustín to feed the kilns of the cement factory, and a year later, one afternoon in April, Beatriz’s well was flooded and while she remembered the cotton tales of sugar and penicillin jars embedded in the logs, his friends ran to the olive trees to tell his father that Eulogio was buried in water at the bottom of the mine.
Around here and then, everyone knew that God wanted donkeys to go slower than horses so that the men of the field would have time to leave their miseries along the way, but that only bitter experiences taught you that In days of anxiety and urgency, like that day in April, they were obliged to collect all the bad thoughts left in the gutters. For that, precisely for that, and to vaccinate himself with words against grief, Eulogio’s father kept an arsenal of ideas stored in used penicillin bottles between the holes in the trunks. And that is why he looked for the one who had written the paradox of the splinter, and so as not to burst with anguish while he returned home imagining his son at the bottom of the mine, and to remember it and to relieve the weight of anxiety, he wrote it scratches and fascicles on the tablets of the preserve.
And when Eulogio Serrano was pulled out of the mine alive and shivering at dawn on that April morning, his father was at the well’s mouth breathing dry scouring pads and dressed so in black that it was confused with the night, but as he had such an intense smell of ramón with caldillo, dragons with fairies and Princes of the East with penicillin bottles, they did not need to see each other to embrace.
And it was then that his father whispered in his ear that this year the Magi had come from the opposite side and had arrived in April, and he put the penicillin bottle in the palm of his hand, which at the time must have been one of the last that his mother was injected, and in the white light of the carbide, Eulogio read on the strip of paper that it takes many weary donkey afternoons to learn that children prick into your flesh like dry splinters, that the more you cry for them, The more they get wet, the more they widen and the more they hurt, but if you ever manage to remove them whole, you will bleed so much from the huge hole they leave in the skin and in the chest that you will ask, with the same passion that children ask the Princes of Orient, that they stick deep and forever in you.
-Daddy, we have to keep the rarity of childhood in the little penicillin bottles, and write on the strip of paper that one learns to become an adult the moment he begins to realize that he is a child.
And years later, the Princes became Kings, and as soon as they began to use the west road, they knew how to make the pools rise to the category of swimming pools, that the corrals of cagajones became landscaped patios and that the penicillin pharmacies rose to pharmacy of colored pills. It was then that Eulogio came to his father’s olive grove to give his children’s gears gently nudges, and while they wondered about the contents of the glass jars forever embedded in the living flesh of the olive grove, they discovered traces of hoofs as wide as cow dough, and they saw fluttering fluff of ermine on the suckers of the olive trees. And to pay off his borrowed magic debt, he shrugged until his children told him that the tracks had to be dromedaries, papa, and that the fluff must be plush from the capes of the Magi, sure, papa, Sure, and that when this year they enter through the chimney, we will not give them polvorones with anise, but bread with sugar and olive oil, filtered and filled with tales of little boats so that on their return trip, like grandfather, they entertain with the stories nailed forever in the trunks of the olive trees and of memory.