• Fredy Rivas

The Cedar and the Maple - Athabasca


–Excuse me, would you help us? Something is wrong with our car. There´s this clicking in the ring of one of the front wheels. There´s any mechanic open on town?

–Not at this hour. You guys have to wait until Monday. Everything is closed.

–What a bad luck! We can’t wait too much time. Sunday morning we left Athabasca for Calgary.

–Let me check your wheel –said the kind lady, rising her seventy years from the wooden stool while smoking a Lucky–.

She made us drive forward and backward, again and again, closing her ear to the warm ring, inspecting the wheel like an expert. Finally, shaking her head as a sybill in trance of pronounce a bad omen, she said:

–You´re on problems, guys. There´s nothing I can do. You have to wait until Sunday or risk to drive with that weird noise. You never know, it could be your sway bar, or even your brakes. You better wait.

We were looking each other faces, on an intent to decide by telepathy what to do, when the voice of another old lady that we didn’t noticed broke our frustrated supernatural communication:

–You’re so lucky, guys! Perhaps Rayan would help you!

Rayan, a local taxi driver was pulling over his car in that very moment and, without saying a word, walked directly to the wheel and like a car racer technician pronounced his diagnosis with a full smile on his face:

–Don´t you worry guys! Surely is a little pebble on the ring, or a little branch. The car will take you for miles without problems.

When he was raising I noticed a tattoo on his neck. The flag of Lebanon were bound, trough the cedar tree, with the maple leaf of Canada´s flag. It was a declaration, a personal statement of a transatlanting home bounding: there is no distance or estrangement; a tree is a tree, no mattter where, and under its shadow you’re home.

While we said good bye I couldn´t stop thinking about his tattoo, about the spatial and emotional loop drawed in his skin. Here, by the river, by the forest, an axis linked a man with dense branches tended over the ocean. In that very moment I desired, longed from the deep of my heart to feel at home too. And I felt this way some hours later, when by chance we found Rayan on a local bar, and with he and his friends we drank, laugh and understood, collectively, our place on the time river, on the Athabasca River.

Juan Carlos Montero Vallejo

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