The Gypsy



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  The Gypsy    

By María Eugenia Marzioni

“Every morning is a fresh beginning. Every day is the world made new. Today
is a new day. Today is my world made new. I have lived all my life up to
this moment, to come to this day. This moment – this day – is as good as any
moment in all eternity. I shall make of this day – each moment of this day –
a heaven on earth.
This is my day of opportunity.” -- Dan Custer




 “Come on, dear.  It’s time to go”, she told him with a big white smile.

            He caressed his wife’s hair for the last time.  She looked tired so he felt happy to release her from the burden he had been these last days. The wrinkles caused by time and all the suffering had not spoiled her soft skin.  She was as beautiful as the day he had met her.

            Then he approached his eldest son. “The strongest”, he thought.  His big blue eyes filled with tears.  Being the best doctor in town but not having been able to save his father was a big frustration.  He felt sorry for him and wished he could do something to hold those salty drops. He tried to whisper some words of comfort but his heart was too broken to listen.  It would need some time to be healed. 

            Then, he went to his daughters, the three of them.  They had given him so much joy.  Such great artists.  Such great mothers.  Such great girls. He curled his fingers through their blond hair and could feel their utter grief.  “Pretty, pretty souls”, he murmured. “They’ll be fine. Their art will help them.”

            Finally, the youngest. His little boy, his pet, his toy.  He had come to the world some years after his siblings, making another prediction come true.  He was the protected one and the one who had suffered the most.  “He looks old”, he thought.  “His divorce, his unemployment, his struggles with the mother of his children…”  He wanted to hug him but he could tell by the gypsy’s eyes that it was kind of late.  So, he patted him on his right shoulder and could not resist this sadness, this feeling of anguish that was hitting hard.

            He knew he was going to miss all of them.  He knew it was the time.  He had known about it for ages.  Everything had started a long time ago. 


            It was a hot windy noon.  The streets of the village he used to live were dusty and brown. Nobody was in the streets.  He and his friends used to meet at that time to walk around and talk about nothing and everything: school, girls, fun, plans.  They were just seventeen. 

            Along one of the widest roads, she was coming.  Long colourful skirt, a loose transparent blouse, bare feet, savage black hair over her shoulders and gently touching her big breasts.  Her coins were shining from everywhere, her wrists, her neck, her head, her feet and the sweat caused by the intense heat made her shine a little more.  With two bags, one on her back and the other on her shoulder, she was shuffling down among a big cloud of dust.  She seemed not to care much, as if time and place were eternal and intangible. 

            “A gypsy!” one of the boys said.  They all found her presence astonishing and fun at the same time.  They started gossiping on where she had come from and the tents her people had put up outside the town and their lifestyle and their bad reputation. 

            But he, kept off his mates’ comments, was wondering what those deep black eyes were thinking of.  Which worlds they had seen.  Which worries they were haunted by.  Which sounds they had listened to.  The mystery they carried was like the strangest pearl in the depths of an ocean.

            The woman stopped some feet from them and all the gossiping was immediately cut.  She looked at all of them like despising their careless youth.   She then turned to him and said: “Your future for a dime”.

            Despite the loud laughter of the rest, he put one of his hands in his pocket, opened his wallet, took out two coins and handed them to the stranger.  She firmly took his right hand and brought it near her breasts.  Something cold went all through his body that made him shiver for half a second.  “Knowing the future is a huge responsibility.  Want to take it?”  She asked.  The young man nodded.  Her left fingers followed his palm lines very gently and those deep eyes studied them cautiously.

            “You will live in a big city.  You will have five children.  You will die when you are seventy-four”, she said and quickly disappeared through the dust, the brown and the intense heat.


            Time seemed blurred in between.  Years went by.  Sitting in the loneliness of his study smoking an endless cigar (something he used to do so as to escape from the busy days) he knew that he had savored every moment of his life.  Not a small part of it had been skipped out, not a single action had to be regretted or changed.  Not a dream had been out of becoming true.  He remembered when he, being younger, used to feel uneasy for having accepted the great responsibility of knowing his future and what was even worse, believing it.   In those moments, he used to wonder if the gypsy’s predictions had shaped his life or if it had been the other way round.  Had he moved to that place because it had been mentioned by that woman?  Had he really wished for his last son? Would he die at seventy four because that was his destiny or because it had been his sole expectation?

            During the relaxed get-togethers, he used to warn his family, among their funny comments of disbelief, about those predictions.  “The first two became true.  I am getting old.  You have to be ready when I leave”.  But they would never listen.  And in a way, he was happy with that.  It is not nice to know that you are going to die.  Now, the word “responsibility” had a huge, deep meaning.


            Then cancer came.  Doctors coming and going.  Chemotherapy.  Days of despair and hope.  Hospitals again.  Moments when he said how much he loved them all.   X-rays and blood tests.  Metastasis.  Time to prepare for parting.  More pain.  The gypsy’s story.  More laughter of disbelief.  Morphine. And sleep.  Eternal sleep.


            “Come on, dear” the gypsy said again.  “Let them go”

            “I was going to be seventy-five tomorrow, you know that”

            “That’s why you’ve got to hurry.  We don’t want to challenge destiny, do we?” she replied with her big white smile.

            She took his right hand and headed towards the light.  For a fraction of time, he felt like turning back to see them for the last time but he thought it was better this way.

            “Let them go” she repeated.           

            And he did. 





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