..."The attic’s timber floor was old and creaked. The adobe walls were a mixture of mud, straw and rough edges of brick. Spider webs and shady corners.
They had fixed four posts to hold the ceiling; colossal trunks that they had topped with branches under the roof tiles. Victoria’s grandmother had tied Spanish grass between the posts to hang the grapes. She also kept the apples from the orchard up here along with strings of garlic; bunches of onions; walnuts and hazelnuts, sunflower seeds; seeds for green beans for….well, so that nothing would be wasted. Because everything from the garden was a blessing from the sky and we had to be thankful for all of these kindnesses bestowed on us.
And, in the walls, stuck in a corner or hung up somewhere, you would find the most unusual things: wooden troughs for kneading the bread; cereal measurers; round metallic sieves; pitchforks with wooden teeth that were carved from a single piece of wood (making the most of the shape of the tree); a faded harness full of woodworm; bellows for bringing the last embers back to life; out of joint hoes; a handcart with a flat wheel or a completely rusted old roman plough. Coils of snaked ropes and filthy lumps of iron that placed together might make irrigation pipes. Wicker baskets for collecting the grapes during the harvest; a wheel off a bike or a broken, white pump covered in dust. More old wicker baskets, one with a broken handle held together with black string and a few knots; big, fat rusted nails sunk into the adobe for hanging heavy farm implements. This small mountain was piled on the wall opposite the street – the wall that had 3 sloping windows through which Aladdin came in and Sleeping Beauty went out -; and where in the corner they had made a stage.
And underneath the mountain, one could imagine more; a broken alarm clock, an irrigation pump, or a pious magazine. Everything had been kept “for it might come in handy one day.” The story of the daily routine was told in that mountain; the past, sculpted there. Perhaps, it would recall forgotten memories; those that accumulated and are only momentarily lost in order to be recollected one day. And there, at the bottom, where the slope of the roof meets the wall with the three small windows, was placed a gun metal grey and higgledy-piggeldy chest of drawers upon which were piled Sebastian’s notes from his studies.
It was a big, wooden dresser, and it was hard work taking out those stuffed boxes. Inside there were yellowed papers, maths and geography books, with grey linen covers and black letters; notebooks with mathematic calculations and chemical formulations. Victoria handled these books as if they were sacred. Here was the story of her father, of her little daddy. That small hand that leaned to the right that she recognized. They were the papers and the books that her dearest father had touched; picked up and carried under his arm. Probably they were the books that he was carrying when he told Victoria about “the greys” who came to the school one day and started beating people and everyone ran out of the school terrified. He had been beaten too, as had his friend Antonio. They broke his glasses and he couldn’t see any more. He said that he had never been as afraid in his life because everyone was running left, right and centre while the blows rained down on them.
That that day they WERE AFRAID. VERY AFRAID."
• • •
"Her grandfather got up from the leather chair and went out to the yard. He passed through the kitchen with the fireplace, (around which the entire family, in the 30’s, would gather in the heat of the fire, and recite the rosary,) then another kitchen with more modern furnishings. He crossed a small patio roofed with asbestos with the old stone basin that was used for washing. It had a ridged incline, on which Valeriana beat the clothes and scrubbed them with ivory soap. On the way out, at the beginning of the farmyard, where the chickens and the cows were, there was another basin where they skinned rabbits; and when Victoria witnessed the skinning, she fled, she couldn’t help it. Her grandfather wasn’t afraid, or disgusted. He looked as if he was made for doing these sort of awful things. With the knife slicing at the innards of the animal, he asked Sebastian to hold the brute by the legs while he held the pelt, in order to tear it off. He let out a grunt that may have sounded like an “eh,” but it came from deep within his throat, just like the day that the mastiff growled.
There was no reason to be afraid.
The fear just had to be faced."
Paragraph selected from Chapter 4th "Valeriana and Melquíades", First Part "The God of Green Valleys"