The X Page: A Storytelling Workshop


Nunca más (Never Again)

by Cecilia Vizcaíno


Summer: I am eight years old. I am sitting on the floor of my grandparents’ house in Banfield, Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s too hot outside. We just had lunch so my bon-papa needs a nap in his reclining chair. My bonne-maman is dozing as she tries to read a magazine in the other reclining chair.

The piano is on my left, but I cannot play it now, for obvious reasons. The windows are open and the sun filters through the grape vines. I can smell grapes smashed on the ground. I can hear the birds chirping outside, and the chicharras chanting in unison.

It’s quiet inside but I don’t feel like taking a nap. Behind me, on the chimney, is the gun. It’s always there, but it still scares me. My bon-papa used to be a policeman. He carries a gun when he’s out of the house. I guess the gun’s also taking a nap.

There are more guns hidden inside the house, but I don’t want to find them. There is one, though, that’s hard not to see. It’s a cannon, and it’s in the middle of the patio, in the backyard. It was a “gift” from my bon-papa to my bonne-maman. She likes to put pots with plants and flowers all around it. I think she is trying to cover it. I like climbing on it. I play that it’s a horse that flies and takes me away from scary things. I am not afraid of that cannon.

Fall: I am standing at the bus terminal with my mom. We are going to visit my grandparents for the weekend. Their house in Banfield is one hour away from the city apartment where I live with my mom. The bus ride is so long that I will probably fall asleep. Sometimes I wish I lived in a house instead of an apartment… 

It’s very noisy and dirty here with all the buses coming in and out. When they are quiet, I can hear the birds chirping in the tall trees. My mom’s hair shines under the sun. I like holding my mom’s hand and she likes holding mine. At this moment, I forget my fears. 

Winter: I am lying in bed at my grandparents’ house. It’s a big house and it’s so cold here. The bed is cold, the floor is cold, the air is cold. My bonne-maman is tucking me in, but she won’t stay long; she is tired. I hate sleeping here on my own. I wish my mom was here with me. I am afraid of the silence. Soon, my grandparents will go to bed too. Soon, I will hear my bon-papa snoring so loudly that I won’t be able to fall asleep. I don’t understand how they can sleep. Aren’t they afraid? I guess if I hear him snoring it means everything is fine and I should stop worrying? 

Their room is so far away and it’s so cold. What if someone breaks in? I won’t have time to run; they’ll find me. Will they come for me, or for my grandparents? Maybe they are coming for our neighbours…

I wish my mom was here with me. I hold on tight to my doll. Bad things happen at night, I heard.

Spring: I am sitting on the floor at my grandparent’s house. My mom and I have come for the weekend. She is sitting in a chair at the head of the dining-table and my grandparents are in their reclining chairs. We are watching TV—Bah, they are. I am playing with my doll. It used to be my mom’s when she was little. My bonne-maman made doll’s clothes for her and my bon-papa made her a blue bedroom set out of wood with a bed and a wardrobe. I like changing her clothes and putting her in the little bed to sleep. But that’s pretend! When we are going to bed, she sleeps cuddled with me!

My grandparents and my mom are watching the news. They are showing lots of people with Argentinian flags on the streets, cars honking. It reminds me of when Argentina wins a soccer match at the World Cup. But this time there are lots more people, I think. My mom is combing her hair with her fingers, she seems relieved. My bonne-maman is tapping her knees with her hands, happily. My bon-papa has a big smile under his big mustache and leans forward in his chair to hear the people on TV. They are saying things like “Democracy is back!” “Alfonsín won the elections!” “The military government is over!” I don’t know exactly what that means, but I will remember this feeling. I hug my doll. I watch everything. The windows are open, warm air blows in, rustling the new grape leaves. It is spring.