Handkerchief / El Pañuelo - The Ink Well Prompt #13: 50 Imagination Ticklers


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This is my entry for The Ink Well Prompt #13: 50 Imagination Ticklers

Maria was tenderly observing her little granddaughter, who was on her knees, amusing herself with a photo album.

Suddenly, the little girl was surprised to hear the creaking of the wood of the old rocking chair.

"I'm sorry, dear, I didn't mean to startle you," replied the grandmother sweetly.

The old woman extended her arms from the rocking chair.

"Come, show me what caught your eye," said the grandmother.

The little girl took the album and placed it on her grandmother's lap.

Maria began to explain to her little granddaughter the names of each person in each picture.

"This is Marcos, your father's cousin. This other one is Marta, your great aunt," and so she continued until one of the pages showed a photo, yellowed by the passage of time, where she was standing next to a tall gentleman, standing very straight and with a serious expression. The grandmother, in her early twenties, was carrying a baby in her arms.

Maria remained mute for a moment while her wrinkled and trembling hands caressed the stranger's silhouette.

The little girl, seeing that she did not continue to browse through the album, crinkled her eyes and asked.

"Who is that gentleman?"

Grandma leaned back on her rocking chair, making the wood creak again. A sad little grin creased her lips.

"It's a long story," she glanced at the little girl and asked. "Do you want to hear it?"

The little girl opened her big eyes and nodded her head quickly.

"His name was Carlos. We lived together for many years."

"What a time those were," she said letting out a little sigh, as one who remembers a difficult time that was successfully overcome.

"He was the kindest and most considerate being I had ever met," she continued.

"At that time, I worked as a nurse at the central hospital. Exhausting 18-hour shifts with little time to sit down. Work 6 days a week and even then, I barely made enough pay to eat let alone support Julio, your father, who was barely 2 years old."

"It was nighttime, I had finished my shift and I was alone, sitting at the bus stop waiting for the 11 p.m. bus. I felt suffocated, not only because of the exhausting work of that night but also because of the bills I had to pay; without further ado, I began to cry"

"My sobbing attracted the attention of a stranger. Soon, I heard the footsteps of a gentleman coming towards me, and quickly, I wiped my tears from my eyes. I had remembered the tales of my female companions who had been assaulted at night. Evildoers took advantage of lonely women to do their misdeeds. Distressed, I clutched my purse and glanced at the man approaching me."

"This man came well dressed and despite his intimidating height, he did not appear to have bad intentions. In a gravelly but polite voice, he asked if he could sit next to me. I nodded without saying a word. And immediately, he offered me a beautiful handkerchief, it had a very pleasant lavender scent. A gesture that people had stopped doing a long time ago, a very kind gesture on his part that touched me."

"He had an atypical way of being, somewhat childlike, sometimes I felt that I was talking to a child."

"Like a child?" the little girl interrupted, wrinkling her nose.

"Yes," Grandma replied smiling," he loved to ask a lot of questions and I got the impression that he appreciated me having the patience to answer them."

"Before I knew it," she continued her narration," I ended up telling her my whole life story, that night."

"The bus arrived and before I got on it, he asked me if he could see me again and I said yes."

"After a while, before I got home, I realized I never asked his name. I thought I would never see him again but, thank God, I didn't."

"Sometimes he would wait for me to invite me to lunch, other times, we would meet just to talk. One thing he had, in particular, was that he was never tired of listening to me and asking questions."

"One day I got sick and had to rest for a month. Chivalrously, he offered to take care of me the whole time. I felt very ashamed, but I couldn't refuse. He kept the house clean, fed me, and took care of your father, who was still a little baby. Carlos never minded doing any work."

"It scared me to think that because of me he would lose his job. But he told me that he repaired all kinds of electronic equipment and that he owned a small workshop."

"Unfortunately, the one who lost her job was me," Grandma chuckled. "However, God doesn't close a door without leaving a window open, my little one," she caressed the little granddaughter's face.

"Out of the blue, Carlos asked me to live with him. At first, I didn't know how to answer him. I knew it was too premature, I was afraid of making the same mistake I had made when I was younger, but finally, I agreed. For his atypical way of looking at life, it was the most logical path. Maybe he wasn't a romantic or expressive person, but he cared. And that was what was truly important."

"Besides, he could stay entertained for hours with my little Julio, it was as if he had never seen a baby before as if they were both experiencing life for the first time."

"We left the city and bought a very cozy house in the countryside, we even had a dog.", Maria pointed to the little canine sitting at Carlos' feet, "Spot", she revealed

The little girl stroked the dog's silhouette in the photo.

"Carlos never ceased to amaze me. I could always smell coffee in the mornings, buttered toast, and fried eggs. He was extremely attentive."

"I continued to work as a nurse in a small medical center, but I did it out of love for my fellow beings, by that time, money never failed us again."

A small tear escaped, running down her cheek.

"Unfortunately, Carlos had to leave for a faraway place and I never saw him again. However, he left me something called BTC, by then I had no idea what it was. But I treasured it as the most precious thing; sometime later I realized that I had in my hands a small fortune that would last for more than 3 generations."

The old woman closed the photo album.

"You sure would like something to snack on, wouldn't you?" granny inquired, "Would you like a cookie?"

The little girl showed a row of incomplete teeth and nodded cheerfully.

"Let's go," Grandma said and the rocking chair creaked again.

The truth was that Carlos was not human. He was an artificial intelligence, coming from another planet. Maria never imagined that her perfect partner would be a totally artificial being. It was obvious that there was something very particular in his way of being that made him unique, but in the end, it didn't matter. Even though there wasn't a speck of blood or a heart of flesh in his entire body, she had never met a more human being than Carlos.

Although he could never express his feelings in words, his actions were always enough.

See you next time, space cowboy (should I say cowgirl too?).





Esta es mi entrada para The Ink Well Fiction Prompt #13: Cosquillas de imaginación

María observaba con ternura a su pequeña nieta, quien estaba de rodillas entretenida con un álbum de fotos.

De pronto, la pequeña se sobresaltó al oír el crujir de la madera de la vieja mecedora.

“Perdona, querida, no ha sido mi intención asustarte”, respondió con dulzura la abuela

La anciana extendió sus brazos desde la mecedora.

“Ven. Muéstrame que te ha llamado la atención”, dijo la abuela

La niña tomó el álbum y lo colocó sobre el regazo de su abuela.

María comenzó a explicarle a su nietecita los nombres de cada persona que salía en cada foto.

“Este es Marcos, primo de tu padre. Esta otra es Marta, tu tía abuela,” y así continuó hasta que en una de las páginas apareció una foto, amarillenta por el paso del tiempo, donde ella se encontraba al lado de un señor alto, parado muy derecho y con una expresión seria. La abuela, a sus veintitantos años, llevaba a un bebe en sus brazos.

María permaneció muda por un momento mientras sus manos arrugadas y temblorosas acariciaban la silueta del extraño.

La pequeña al ver que no continuaba hojeando el álbum, arrugó los ojos y preguntó.

“¿Quién es ese señor?”

La abuela se echó hacia atrás sobre su mecedora, haciendo rechinar de nuevo la madera. Una pequeña sonrisa triste surcó sus labios.

“Es una larga historia”, le echó una mirada a la pequeña y le preguntó. “¿Quieres oírla?”

La pequeña abrió sus grandes ojos y asintió rápidamente con su cabeza.

“Su nombre era Carlos. Vivimos juntos durante muchos años.”

“Qué tiempos aquellos”, dijo soltando un pequeño suspiro, como quien recuerda una época difícil que fue superada con éxito.

“Era el ser más amable y considerado que jamás había conocido”, continuó

“En aquel tiempo, trabajaba como enfermera en el hospital central. Turnos agotadores de 18 horas con poco tiempo para sentarse. Trabaja 6 días a la semana y aun así, apenas me alcanzaba el sueldo para comer y mucho menos para mantener a Julio, tu padre, quien apenas tenía 2 años”

“Era de noche, había terminado mi turno y me encontraba sola, sentada en la parada esperando el bus de las 11 de la noche. Me sentía ahogada, no solo por el trabajo agotador de aquella noche, sino también por las cuentas que debía pagar; sin más comencé a llorar”

“Mi llanto atrajo la atención de un extraño. Pronto, escuché los pasos de un caballero que venía hacía mí y rápidamente, sequé mis lágrimas de mis ojos. Había recordado los cuentos de mis compañeras que habían sido asaltadas por la noche. Los malhechores aprovechaban a las mujeres solitarias para hacer sus fechorías. Angustiada, apreté mi bolso y le eché una mirada al hombre que se me acercaba”

“Este hombre venía bien vestido y a pesar de su intimidante altura, no aparentaba tener malas intenciones. Con una voz grave pero educada me preguntó si podía sentarse a mi lado. Asentí sin decir palabra alguna. Y de inmediato, me ofreció un hermoso pañuelo, tenía un olor a lavanda muy agradable. Un gesto que las personas habían dejado de hacer hacía mucho tiempo, un gesto muy amable de su parte que me conmovió”

“Tenía una forma de ser atípica, un tanto infantil, a veces sentía que hablaba con un niño”

“¿Cómo un niño?”, interrumpió la pequeña arrugando su nariz

“Sí,”, respondió la abuela sonriendo,” le encantaba hacer muchas preguntas y me daba la impresión de que apreciaba que yo tuviera la paciencia de responderlas”

“Sin darme cuenta”, continuó su narración,” terminé contándole toda mi vida, aquella noche.”

“El autobús llegó y antes de subirme en él, me preguntó si podía volver a verme y le dije que sí.”

“Al rato, antes de llegar a mi casa, me di cuenta que nunca pregunté su nombre. Pensé que no lo volvería a ver pero, gracias a Dios, no fue así.”

“Algunas veces me esperaba para invitarme a comer, otras veces, nos veíamos solo para conversar. Algo que tenía en particular era que jamás se cansaba de escucharme y de hacer preguntas”

“Un día enfermé y tuve que guardar reposo por un mes. Caballerosamente, se ofreció a atenderme durante todo el tiempo. Me dio mucha pena, no obstante, no pude negarme. Mantenía la casa limpia, me hacía de comer y atendía a tu papá, quien aún era un pequeño bebé. Carlos jamás le molestaba hacer cualquier trabajo”

“Me asustó pensar que por mi culpa perdería su empleo. Pero me dijo que se dedicaba a reparar todo tipo de equipos electrónicos y que era dueño de un pequeño taller.”

“Lamentablemente, la que perdió el empleo fui yo”, la abuela rió por lo bajo. ”Sin embargo, Dios no cierra una puerta sin dejar una ventana abierta, mi pequeña”, acarició la cara de la nietecita.

“De improvisto, Carlos me pidió que viviera con él. Al principio, no supe qué responderle. Sabía que era muy prematuro, temía volver a cometer el mismo error que había cometido cuando era más joven pero, finalmente, accedí. Para su atípica forma de ver la vida, era el camino más lógico. Quizás no era una persona romántica o expresiva, pero le importaba. Y eso era lo que verdaderamente era importante.”

“Además, podía quedarse horas entretenido con mi pequeño Julio, era como si nunca hubiese visto a un bebé, como si ambos estuvieran experimentando la vida por primera vez”

“Nos fuimos de la ciudad y compramos una casa muy acogedora en el campo, hasta tuvimos un perro.”, María señaló el pequeño can que estaba sentado a los pies de Carlos, “Manchas”, reveló

La pequeña acarició la silueta del perro sobre la foto.

“Carlos jamás dejó de asombrarme. Siempre podía sentir el olor a café por las mañanas, las tostadas con mantequilla y los huevos fritos. Era extremadamente atento”

“Continué trabajando como enfermera en un pequeño centro médico, pero lo hacía por amor al prójimo, para ese entonces, el dinero jamás volvió a faltarnos.”

Una pequeña lágrima se escapó, corriendo por su mejilla.

“Lamentablemente, Carlos tuvo que partir a un lugar muy lejano y jamás volví a verlo. Sin embargo, me dejó algo llamado BTC, para ese entonces no tenía idea de qué era. Pero lo atesoré como lo más preciado; tiempo después me di cuenta que tenía en mis manos una pequeña fortuna que perduraría por más de 3 generaciones”

La anciana cerró el álbum de fotos.

“De seguro, te apetece algo para merendar, ¿no es así?”, inquirió la abuela, “¿Quieres una galleta?”

La pequeña mostró una hilera de dientes incompletos y asintió alegremente.

“Vamos”, dijo la abuela y la mecedora volvió a crujir.

La verdad era que Carlos, no era humano. Era una inteligencia artificial, que venía de otro planeta. María jamás imaginó que su pareja perfecta fuera un ser totalmente artificial. Era obvio que había algo muy particular en su forma de ser que lo hacía único, pero que a final de cuentas no importaba. Aun cuando en todo su cuerpo no había una pizca de sangre ni un corazón de carne, jamás conoció a un ser más humano que Carlos.

A pesar de que nunca pudo expresar con palabras sus sentimientos, sus acciones siempre fueron suficientes.

Hasta la próxima, vaquero del espacio (¿Debería decir vaquera también?).



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12 comments
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I so much desire to have some artificial human gift me BTC at this moments. I'm just wondering how the young man learned to live among humans, but it was a nice read. Sometimes we come across people who truly care and becomes a blessing for us. I have met some .

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Who knows? Maybe it is not necessary to wait for an alien being, there are humans with a big heart who could also give you BTC ^_^

I have met some .

It's good to know

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Yeah, we don't need wait for aliens. There are humans with such big hearts

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This story is so good. Your characterization of the grandmother is perfect. I can see her looking through the album. The narrative is believable...even with a magical person from another planet.

There is one flaw in this story, and I point it out because you are a good enough writer to understand it. When the reader learns about the identity of Carlos, this should be part of the story. You add it on at the end as an explanation, but it would have been much more appropriate (structurally) for that bit of information to come from the grandmother, or someone else in the story.

Nonetheless, the story reads very well. Thank you for writing in response to the prompt. I would like to remind you to visit the stories of other writers and support them. In this way our community remains vibrant.

I look forward to reading more of your stories.

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There is one flaw in this story, and I point it out because you are a good enough writer to understand it. When the reader learns about the identity of Carlos, this should be part of the story. You add it on at the end as an explanation, but it would have been much more appropriate (structurally) for that bit of information to come from the grandmother, or someone else in the story.

Yes! you're right! I haven't enough time to introduce the particularity of the character to be reflected in an exceptional being who was not of this world.

I appreciate your comments, thank you very much ^_^

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I love what you did with the AI prompt, @jadams2k18. This is so beautifully told, and it's always interesting to read a story within a story. You have a gift with telling stories in dialog! Well done! (I do have one small correction for you. In your English version, where it says "telling her my whole life story," it should be "telling him my whole life story": "Before I knew it," she continued her narration," I ended up telling her my whole life story, that night.")

I agree with our moderator who commented as The Ink Well that it would be great for the discovery that Carlos is an AI to happen within the story, so the grandmother shares this, instead of the author. (Here's a tip post you might like: What Is Author Intrusion?)

Keep writing, @jadams2k18. It's always great to read your work!

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Hello, @jayna!

Yeah, it happens to me a lot, Deepl switch all the time the genders! I always have to keep an eye on checking the genders when using Deepl. In the rush, I missed that

What Is Author Intrusion ? Sounds intriguing! ^_^

Thanks for the tip, I love to post in this community because I learn a lot :D

Keep writing, @jadams2k18

I will ^_^

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Oh I haven't heard of Deepl. Well I don't think any translation tool is perfect... yet. But they are certainly getting better all the time, aren't they? I'm so glad you enjoy The Ink Well!

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It's hard to accept that the one we love will never stays with us forever. We appreciate their presence together with their appearance but sometimes it's never enough.

Lovely story but I can feel sadness because I'm not sure if they will stay forever.

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