The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Saturday, February 24, 2007


by Ruth Taylor

Claudia, seventeen, lies on her back on a narrow bed in a dark room. Her eyes are closed but she is awake. Beside her is her cousin Andrea. Around them, on other beds, cots and reed mats spread across cement floors in this room and the next, an assortment of cousins, siblings, aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents are sleeping. Or appear to be.

On the other side of the cinder-block walls, out in the black street, there is music. A group of young men, boys really, are singing a love song to Claudia. They have no instruments, but they harmonize well. During the day, these same boys nod in unison to the heavy beat of Alux Nahual blasting from cheap tape decks. They mouth Latin rap to the videos they see on TV. But tonight they sing about moonlight on a window that is closed.

The boys have not announced that the song is for Claudia, but she knows it is. And though she cannot be sure, she decides the singers include the young man she met earlier this evening when she was out with Andrea. The one with the pretty eyes who looked away whenever she tried to meet his gaze. The one who made her laugh when he missed the stack of cans he was aiming his beanbags at.

Remembering it, Claudia stifles a laugh. He hadn’t even come close.

Like many of the young men outside and perhaps half the people in San Antonio Huista tonight, Claudia has come here for the Fiestas de Guadalupe, the town’s patron. They have come because they or other family members were born here, and tomorrow most of them, including Claudia, will be going home.

Tonight the troubadours will visit other houses in the sleeping town. At some, the girls will try to talk to or at least get a look at their would-be suitors before their parents order them back to bed. At one house, the girl’s father himself will crack the door open and request a song. Claudia is allowed to come and go as she pleases. The adults in her family set few boundaries and respect even fewer. She endures their questions, their opinions and advice, dozens of fingers hoping to unravel the knot of her emotions.

The night air is fragrant with the scent of pine needles, sawdust and petals trampled underfoot by the day’s processions.

Claudia smiles in the dark. She decides not to go to the window, but to feign sleep and listen.

Guest blogger Ruth Taylor worked for a decade as a journalist in Guatemala before returning to Canada three years ago. Now she lives in London, Ontario, with her partner and three kids and wonders everyday whether the decision to move north was the right one. Her fiction has appeared in Kiss Machine and online at The Danforth Review.

Inset photo courtesy of Servicio de Información Muncipal, Guatemala. Top photo provided by Ruth Taylor.


Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

Thannk you for joining us for our month of love writing, Ruth. This is a lovely piece of writing.

Sat Feb 24, 10:46:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

Lovely post, Ruth. A pleasure to read.

Sat Feb 24, 10:55:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger tamara said...

This is very sweet, Ruth. Thanks for sharing it.

Sat Feb 24, 12:47:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous Ruth Taylor said...

Thanks for your comments and the invite. You're generous company and exceptional writers.


Sat Feb 24, 08:55:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Ruth, I enjoyed this glimpse of universality. Boys and girls all over the world fall in love. This story conveys the mystery that surrounds the accidental way they seem to come together.

Sun Feb 25, 09:28:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Laura said...

Ruth, I had no idea you excelled at fiction! I remember with great fondness your talents as a journalist and editor.

Sun Apr 29, 11:55:00 am GMT-4  

Post a Comment

<< Home