A short story of love and betrayal, enjoy!
Staring out the large window of her bedroom, Sofia looked down on a beautiful garden with sadness in her heart. Seventeen eighty-nine was a dangerous time, especially for ‘los hacendados’. Many months ago, ‘la revolución’ was nothing more than a rumor circulated during conversations at every dining table in every corner of the city, but today it was a reality. The rebels demanded better ways of living, and they blamed ‘el Presidente’ for not taking care of his people. While homeless subjects died of starvation, they claimed the hacendados and ‘el Presidente’ draped themselves in custom-made jewelry and exquisite clothes.
While the reality of the rebels, that were mostly poor people, was not Sofia’s, she suffered for her loved one. Fernando was his name, and, even though he was not of wealth as she was, he was a captain of ‘La guardia Presidencial’, which was a respectable title for a young man to achieve in the President’s army. His position meant that she could see him now and then, for he was well respected among the rich families for his bravery in the line of duty. Sofia met Fernando during a ball held in ‘Casa Blanca’, the luxurious palace of the President of la Republica. They danced together all night, and it was, as Sofia called it, “love at first sight.”
That night, Sofia was captivated by his sky blue eyes, which were enchanting and mysterious at the same time. Of course, she didn’t waste any time to tell him, “You know, some say that a man who has those kinds of eyes has deep secrets inside his heart.”
Fernando, enchanted by her beauty, smiled and replied, “Do you think I have secrets? I know everybody does.”
“Yours are different, for they require their secrecy.”
Fernando’s expression change immediately, he looked at Sofia seriously as if studying her with his gaze. Sofia noticed this, and she quickly said, “Please, do not take this the wrong way. I find your secrecy interesting.”
“Why is that?” he asked with curiosity, looking at her with sharp eyes.
“I intend to discover those secrets, and afterward I’ll make them my own,” Sofia responded playfully.
“You will not like my secrets,” he said seriously.
“Of that, I’ll be the judge. For now, I would like to dance again.”
“As you wish,” Fernando said as kissed her hand.
Seven months passed, since then they had kept seeing each other. Sadly, two weeks ago, Fernando was called to duty to assist in some matters of ‘la revolución’. His orders were to infiltrate the revolution as a spy. He only came to Sofia to say farewell and spend the little time he had left by her side. Ever since, Sofia had heard or received no news of him. The revolution had started in the north of the country and was quickly spreading throughout the cities, getting nearer everyday to her home town. News of death and massacres came to Sofia as she prepared to leave her home that afternoon, accompanied by her closest friends, to stay in her country residence. The only thing keeping her there was that her father had not yet arrived, and she waited for him before departing.
Sofia recalled the afternoon Fernando came to her to say his goodbyes. It was a sunny and beautiful spring afternoon; still his departure was not what Sofia desired. They talked of many things, even of the rebellion, which was not a preferred topic of Sofia. But Fernando had brought it up that day.
“What do you think of ‘la revolución’?” he asked in an odd way.
“My love, do not burden me with that. I really do not wish to talk about it. Everywhere you go everybody talks of the same thing. When I go visit my friends, even my father burdens me with the same subject at dinner time. I did not expect this from you too,” said Sofia with a weary voice.
“Sofia is a reality of our times. You should at least care,” Fernando said sounding disappointed.
“Is not my reality and if you want to know what I think of it, I’ll tell you. My thoughts on that issue are simple. Things should stay as they are. Everybody is happy that way, I know I am. Still this ‘revolución’ will only bring death and sorrow.”
“You think everyone is happy as you are, because you have everything a human being could have. Outside these golden walls you live in, people are dying of starvation. Their way of life is inhuman, and the president and ‘los hacendados’ do nothing to help them. None of you care,” said Fernando upset.
Sofia was confused with his words, as she could not believe what she was hearing from her lover.
“You are a captain of the guards! You should not talk in that manner. Your duty is to the president and not the people. The people serve their government and the president, who represents our glorious country.”
Fernando stood up amazed with what Sofia said. He looked at her in an aggravated way and said irritated, “You have no idea of what goes beyond these walls, do you?”
Perplexed Sofia replied, “Of course I do. I am not an ignorant woman! I…”
But before she could finish, Fernando interrupted her raising his voice, “First, so you know, the people do not serve the president. He is here to serve the people, and by that I mean he is a servant of this country. Those poor people are the ones who work the land, who keep this country and its economy flowing. The people, those who struggle everyday of their lives to survive, are tired and wish a better life. They’re the ones who deserve my respect, and my duty is to them! The government and the hacendados only care for their wealth and power.”
Sofia stood up and began walking away with eyes full of tears. Fernando closed his eyes realizing what he had done. He was too harsh with his words; still she needed to understand what was happening. The world was changing, and if she was to survive in it, Sofia needed to change too. He felted horrible, his heart divided. She did ask him not to talked about it, but still he wanted to know what her thoughts where. Fernando walked towards her, grabbed Sofia by her arm and pulled her towards him. He gave her a hug and cried.
“I am sorry to upset you.”
Sofia crying said softly, “You should be. You’re behaving as if you are not yourself.” Pushing him away from her, in a matter that their eyes met, she continued, “Here in front of me is another man that I know nothing of. Your expressions, your way of speech, even your eyes where lighted when you were speaking. Like it was something that was part of you! This rebellion brings only separation and is affecting everything in its path. Even us! Is tearing us apart, we had never argued before.”
She paused trying to restrain herself then she continued with anger in her voice, “I hate them! I hate everything and everyone that has something to do with it. Look what it has done to us. It has created a void in our relation that was perfect in every sense of the word.” Sofia covered her face with her hands and cried desperately. Fernando looked at her with sadness, but evidently he was upset. He wanted to cry; instead he kissed her forehead and whispered, “I have to go.” With out looking at her, Fernando walked away.
Sofia fell to the ground crying inconsolable. Her heart was being taking away by emotions she could not comprehend. She looked at Fernando one last time as he slowly disappeared in the distant gate. Sofia felt a desire to run to him and kissed his soft lips and begged him not to go. But something inside her kept her from doing that. Maybe it was her pride or that she lacked the strength to do it.
After that episode Sofia cried for days angry with herself, for their departure was not what she wanted. Wishing, many times, she could go back to that day so she might have a chance to say a proper good-bye to her love.
Sofia came out of her room saying good-bye to the garden that had been witness of her growing love and sorrow for Fernando. It was almost three o’clock and Sofia’s friends were waiting for her in the garden gazebo for some afternoon coffee. As Sofia entered the gazebo she smiled to cover the sadness she felt.
“¡Buenas tardes, señoritas!” Sofia said sitting down.
“¡Buenas tardes!” Josefina and Erica answered at the same time.
The ladies ate and drank their coffee in silence; they where too nervous to talk and desperate to live the city for their own well being. Josefina and Erica noticed the sadness in Sofia’s eyes. Erica looked at Josefina and opened her eyes widely making a nod with her head. Josefina understood Erica’s signal and said to Sofia trying to cheer her up, “Please, cheer up. I know what worries you more is that you haven’t heard from Fernando. But believe me you will hear from him soon, you’ll see. Everything is going to work for the best and this rebellion will soon pass.”
“I know. Thank you so much for being here with me,” Sofia replied smiling back at them and holding their hands.
A scream was heard from inside the house and servants came running out towards the garden. Men with guns dressed like rebels came behind them shooting. The three women got up nervously; Sofia stood in front of them. The revolution had reached her home and the rebels were invading it.
One of them had her father, he was bleeding and full of bruises. The rebel threw him at Sofia’s feet. She kneel down to help him, nevertheless the rebel grabbed her by the arm and scream at her telling her to get up. She replied that her father needed a doctor, but he pushed her back.
A tall man came in, dressed in the same fashion. He had a beard and a hat covered his eyes. The rebel called him ‘Capitan’ and asked him what they should do with the women and servants. Josefina and Erica shouted desperately. Sofia grabbed their hands trying to relax them, still they were too scared.
“Take this two and the men and put them standing in front of the wall.”
The women screamed loudly. Sofia tried to help them, but another rebel grabbed her by the shoulders and she was unable to assist her friends. The Capitan approached Sofia and looked at her. As she looked at him she noticed that his gaze was very familiar. Her heart jumped inside as she felt fainted. Sofia knew well those sky blue eyes that looked at her with anger, yet at the same time with love. He looked different with a beard; it made him looked crude, especially in the manner he was dressed. She had never seen him that way before.
The rebel holding Sofia walked away at his command.
“There is no place for mercy or forgiveness for those that believe and are part of this revolution,” the Captain said to her seriously.
“No,” she said breathing deeply. A tear came rolling down her cheek, which she rapidly dried.
“There’s only hate then?”
“Yes,” she whispered with a broken heart.
The Captain opened his mouth as if he was going to say something, but no words came out. He step closer to her and enraged said, “Then I must do what I have to. Know that I only do it, because I love the rebellion more and hate those who are against it.”
With a soft voice, Sofia replied, “You can only hate what you have loved before, for there is no room for hate without love.”
Her words left him speechless. Then he closed his eyes and turned his back on her. He said to one of the rebels, “Put her with the others.”
The rebel pushed Sofia towards the wall placing her between her father that was being held by Josefina, for he could hardly stand, and Erica. Four rebels with guns kneel in front of them. The Capitan stood behind the line of men commanding them to prepare their rifles. Erica began singing and Josefina followed. Her voice was sweet, but full of sadness for she knew her end was near. Sofia gave a last look at the Capitan who looked at her seriously, yet in his eyes there was sadness. He touched the shoulder of one of the rebels and he shot.
Sofia felt the round bullet enter her chest as her body slowly slipped down the wall. Everything gradually became darker, while she heard the singing of her friends fading away.