The hand of the clock moves constantly and invariably, following its own leisurely rhythm; while each second is converted into present time, and soon is “IN THE PAST”. And it never stops… Unless the source of energy that drives it to keep working is consumed with the accelerated pace of its own job, until it stops working due to wear and tear caused over the years.
With the truck loaded with products to sell. A route that included four towns to visit and many days of being at the fair, Manuel was ready to start a new journey that would last several months.
Hilda hugged little Lark tightly, while kissing her forehead and saying, “Be good. Help your dad sell all the merchandise. Enjoy your first trip outside of Jutiapa and have a little fun at each fair in the towns you visit. “
Then Hilda walked to the street where she said goodbye to Manuel, hoping that very soon the pair would return home. Lark, who was walking behind her, came out with a smile lighting up her face. Her eyes dazzled with joy. Her right hand was holding an old suitcase, made of wood and leather. Lark had placed a few articles of clothing inside the suitcase and had filled the empty space with magic to discover, dreams to come true and the absolute hope of starting a new life where everything that happened in the past, would be truly buried there.
Lark got on the truck and took her place as Manuel’s assistant, sitting next to her father. When Manuel started the car and the engine began running, Lark’s heart raced, sending an electric current that ran through her entire body. Like it was reminding her that she was alive and that there were life goals, and objectives to be achieved; that any expectation or desire to be better can be realized through working hard to achieve success.
The truck traveled miles on asphalt and dirt roads to reach its destination. Manuel already had a place assigned in the field of the fair where he parked the truck. He then proceeded to build a fence around the assigned space, leaving the truck in the back to be used as a warehouse. He put up walls at the ends with sticks, boards, and wire mesh that He later covered with blankets. In the front he built a counter with wood and then covered it with cardboard and plastic on both sides since under the counter he placed the mattresses where he would sleep as Lark would be sleeping in the cab of the truck.
Manuel told Lark that she could go out and see the fairgrounds and see all the preparations that the merchants were making, but to be careful because there were many people working, and it could be a bit dangerous to walk in the places where stalls were being built to sell merchandise. Lark went for a walk in the surroundings. The emotions she felt were very intense when she observed all the colored lights that illuminated the signs that announced the games and food stalls. The gentle wind that was blowing occasionally raised small clouds of dust that spread throughout the environment, caressing her beautiful face. For Lark it was like being in a different world. An unknown world for her, where everything was laughter, music, dancing, and full of fun.
Manuel was an expert assembling his stand and he quickly finished it. Then with the help of Lark they placed all the products to sell. The next day, Manuel bought her a yellow dress with lark-patterned flowers to wear on the opening day of the fair. Manuel explained to the little girl that she would have to get used to sleeping during the day because they would stay awake most of the night. Lark learned the price of all the products even though all the items were labeled with little cards that Manuel made so that people could easily see the price.
The first day of the fair was the inauguration with music, a parade, and speeches from the local authorities. There were many people shopping and having fun. Lark looked very beautiful in her new dress. Her hair was braided at the top of her head and loose at the end of her ears, falling to her bare shoulders to match the style of her dress. Her appearance attracted the gaze of all the people who passed by Manuel’s stand. A man approached her and said, “What a beautiful girl, later if you want, I’ll take you on the roller coaster and to eat Garnachas.”
Hearing what the man said, Manuel felt the blood ignite inside his veins, and standing in front of the man, he said in a deep voice and an angry tone, “If you are not interested in buying, get out of here! She is just a child and does not date anyone. “
The man wrinkled his forehead, looked up, took off his hat and haughtily replied, “If you don’t like the girl being talked to, don’t put her to sell for this stand and keep her locked up so no one can look at her, because she’s too cool. I’d like to take her home. “
Manuel jumped over the counter and stood facing the man. He glared at him and fisted his hands defiantly. But the man put his hat back on and then just walked away. Manuel then turned to Lark and said, “I will never allow anyone to disrespect you, I am here, and I will always protect you.”
After that incident, everything went smoothly. The days continued to pass without complications. Lark became an excellent salesperson and began to control the stand herself. Manuel gradually got used to the curious or admiring glances that men gave Lark and he stopped creating conflict if they were only glances and they did not dare to disrespect her.
Days turned into weeks, and the fair started and ended in the established period. So, they had to dismantle the stall, put everything on the truck and move to the next town where everything started all over again. For Manuel it was just routine, but for Lark, each town to visit was a new adventure yet to begin.
One afternoon, when there were still not many people in one of the many towns that fate had brought them to, a woman approached to buy and when she paid, she discreetly caressed Manuel’s hand. It was obvious that Manuel knew her from the way he responded with a smile. Manuel had gained confidence in leaving Lark alone, as she was able to control the sales by herself. So, he felt safe to leave her behind for a while in front of the business, while he locked himself inside the truck claiming that he had to count the merchandise.
While lark was alone selling. A family came to buy. The three children who came with their parents wanted the same toy, but each in a different color. Lark told them that she had three identical toys of different colors, but she would have to go inside the truck to look for them. As she approached the truck, she heard strange noises that made her hesitate to keep walking. However, she did not stop. As she got closer, she noticed that the door was open. Her pulse began to race, and her heart clenched feeling, like she was about to discover something wrong. She began to feel a tightness in her chest, her heartbeat becoming shrill to the degree that it seemed like a drum was echoing inside her body. When Lark stood facing the door, she raised her arm and moved the curtain that prevented her from seeing inside. Her eyes were filled with what she had discovered, tears falling down her cheeks, her throat dry and a feeling of despondency began to rise in her being. The scene was a mockery of all the love she felt for her father. Manuel was there, naked on a mat with another woman.
When the curtain was moved, the sun’s rays penetrated inside the truck and Manuel looked up to see how Alondra trembled with fear at what she was seeing.
TO BE CONTINUED…