“One or the Other” by Fernando Schekaiban

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(the following work was translated by Toshiya Kamei)

The angel flapped his wings stirring gusts. A blast of air ripped up trees and hurled stones on the path of the man passing on it. The storm made a nest on the path of the mortal, who shielded his face with trembling hands in a vain attempt to protect his tired eyes, not caring if his provisions were lost in confusion. As the human advanced, the sand formed waves beneath his feet: small and constant to tire him out, large and sporadic to force him to retreat. Meanwhile, the salt water seeped into his wounds caused by thousands of sharp splinters.

When the man couldn’t take it anymore, he knelt and put his hands together.

“My angel, protector of the destitute, I’m asking you to watch over me on this journey because my strength deserted me. I don’t know if a demon prevents me from reaching the fire of my dwelling.”

The wind ceased blowing. The sand remained perfectly still. The waves stopped licking his wounds, almost purulent.

“Thank you,” the man sobbed. “Only your mediation could save me from a horrible fate. Now I can continue on my way, with a look of happiness on my face and the anecdote of your protection.”

The man resumed his walk, and as he promised, he spread his remarkable story.

One turn of the sun before reaching his destination, he spotted a couple of bags full of food on the ground. He approached with caution, moving his head toward the four spots where the wind is born. He checked among the trees and shrubs to find out if it was a trick. But the only thing that confronted him was the aroma of freshly baked bread. More carefully, he passed by.

When he could rest, he clenched his fists and extended them toward the ground.

“Damn you, demon. You wanted to make me fall for those provisions that were arranged in my own satchel, lost in the storm you caused. That was some trickery you played on me. From slowly working poison to an ambush with a vertiginous end. Don’t give up your desire to feed on souls. Go away. Run to your bedchamber and let me reach mine, unless you want to face my guardian angel.”

The man took a deep breath as he felt tired for having hurled so many insults. He sought shade under a leafless tree off the main road, closed his eyes, and clasped his hands.

“My path has been long and full of danger,” he exclaimed in a low voice. “Please protect me while I rest my body.” He finished his prayer and fell into a deep sleep.

“You wretched man,” said a voice that intermingled with his nightmare. The sound of the words, despite the insult, brought him peace. “You don’t know that we do good, with the certainty that you will deny our gifts, while the angels strike their hopes and then give a hug with scented ointments. And I’ll tell you one thing that will turn into a memory of dust. While you sleep, your protector cleans his feathers with the prayers you have given him and forgets about the murderers who are upon you. There are angels and demons, but it depends on you whether we will turn into one or the other.”

 


Fernando Schekaiban (b. 1985) is a Mexican writer who lives in San Luis Potosí. His fiction has appeared in Revista Portalcienciayficcion. His flash piece “Refill” is available to read in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine