The Village

The trees in our country grew taller than our houses, and even after we cut them down for firewood, within months they forged above our heads. Lazy monkeys rode on macaws to the tops of cliffs, and ancient stone guardians watched over us. In this country we had grown cocoa leaves until we were told to take up machetes and guns against our neighboring villages, and we did because we were afraid. Then the war was over, and they took our guns away and gave us back our hoes. Stillness descended on our village until one day, the tourists discovered us.

The tourists, mainly Americans, marveled at our cobblestone streets that ruined our shoes and at our children riding horses to school because there was no money for motorbikes or cars. They stayed for one, two nights at most and called our village quaint, despite the many buildings still riddled with bullets. So we immediately noticed the woman who stayed, the one with hair like the rays of the sun and eyes glowing with the green of new pumpkin stems. We had never seen such a woman before. There was nothing to do in our village but eat and work and talk, so naturally, we talked about her.

We saw her looking for work, knocking on the door of every store and bar in the village. Then we saw her baking and counting out change when we shopped for fresh bread. A few of us saw her serving drinks at Bar el Tiempo, where many of us went for strong homemade liquor after picking coffee beans in the nearby farms. We liked to prolong the return home to our wives, who took away the week’s pay before we could enjoy it; to our screaming children; to the dinner talk of rising costs and Señorita de la Cruz’s new washing machine. So we lingered in the dark bar and drank, pretending not to notice the woman whose Spanish was almost as good as ours. Javier Rodriguez finally asked her what she was called.

She straightened to her formidable height. After a long pause that made us wonder if she were lying, she said, I am called Margareta Jorvik.

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