Christopher bilingual stories
CHRISTOPHER IS SEVEN YEARS OLD
Text by Javier Martínez Palacio
Translation by Ita Betty Jean Curtis Inselmann
Christopher was really worried. His Spanish grandfather had told him that the following day he would be seven years old and from that day on he should know right from wrong. But, how would he know? Through a revelation, as if a ray of light from Heaven were to illuminate him? He wondered if his grandfather had played a cruel joke on him. Immersed in these worrisome thoughts he fell asleep.
He was sleeping when an old man with a very long beard, wearing a gray cape, appeared in his dream and asked him:
“Do you know the stories about Joel?” Christopher said that he did not and then the old man said:
“Listen carefully, but keep your eyes closed in order to see and understand what I am going to tell you. Joel was a very mischievous little boy. He not only played dirty tricks at home, but also in the homes of his neighbors. One morning in May, he saw Mrs. Hamilton hanging out the clean clothes she had just washed on a clothes line tied to a tree and a post of the handrail on the porch of her house. When the neighbor was hidden by the clothes she was hanging, which swayed back and forth by the breeze, Joel slipped behind the tree and, very carefully, with his left hand untied the rope fastened around the tree, while his right hand held it stretched tight until, a few seconds later, he let it go. Mrs. Hamilton was astonished and she immediately began to shout in anger thinking she had caused the disaster by doing something wrong when she tied the clothes line to the tree. Joel disappeared without a sound, covering his mouth with his hands to smother the laughter which was struggling to escape.”
Then the old man asked Christopher if he wanted to hear another of Joel´s exploits and the little boy responded enthusiastically that he did. The old man smiled and continued:
“It happened on Easter Sunday. Joel knew that his cousins and other little friends would arrive soon to look for the key chains, the painted, hard-boiled Easter eggs; and, apparently, the two white chocolate eggs that his parents had hidden early that morning in the garden of their home. Before the group arrived, he wanted to locate the hiding place of one of the white chocolate eggs to make sure that he would find at least one of them. After much searching, he found a large, very white egg which he did not hesitate to hold up in front of his eyes. When he started to crack it open, egg white and egg yolk ran down his fingers forming a compact rope like that of a yo-yo, which ended up splashing all over his sneakers. What a surprise! He was still in shock when an enormous chicken almost as large as him appeared at his side and hit him so soundly with her wing that Joel staggered and nearly fell over. Then she scolded him in the following way: “In addition to cheating, you can´t even recognize a real egg when you see one! You have smashed a little baby chick that, if it had survived, would have given me affection, would have given you much pleasure, and later, would have given your family dozens and dozens of eggs. Now then, aren´t you a little devil?”
Christopher was quite concerned about the last story, but his curiosity got the best of him when the old man asked if he wanted him to relate another of Joel´s exploits. The old man began like this:
“It was a bright, sunny morning. Joel was strolling around the garden of his house playing his harmonica when he decided to enter Mr. Pendleton´s orchard. Unexpectedly, he dropped his harmonica next to an apple tree; the same tree from which he was planning to steal an apple. Since the shade given by the apple tree was very dark it was difficult to find his harmonica. Extremely irritated by the unsuccessful search, the only thing that occurred to him was to kick the apple tree; a formidable kick similar to those he used when playing soccer at school. The apple tree did not appreciate the offense and shook its branches with such force that several apples fell on Joel´s head, shoulders and back, knocking him to the ground. In addition, the apple tree demonstrated its anger with these words: “It is about time you knew the difference between right and wrong, little whippersnapper! You lost the harmonica, not me, knucklehead!”.
Then the old man drew near and whispered softly in Christopher´s ear: “Now that you are young, many apples will fall on your head when you misbehave; but when you get older, if you misbehave, you will be soiled like Mrs. Hamilton´s clothes which Joel caused to fall on the ground. You will resemble those vagabonds who wander around the streets, always dirty and lost, searching for something; but never knowing quite what it is they are looking for.”
The next morning, when his parents went to wake Christopher they were carrying a big chocolate egg, a candy apple, in addition to a surprise, gifts which the little boy received with great happiness.