Peace of Yard By Joaquín F. Salazar Leyva

This story takes place in a quiet town. It has a downtown that is the centre of almost all the commercial activities, but a considerable rural area has remained over time. In a yard, an old but decent dwelling prolongs its existence. Inside this dwelling, two sofas decorate an empty living room with a table and a TV, which despite the years, continues working. On one sofa sits a man named Robert who listens to a TV presenter’s interview with a psychologist.

TV Presenter: So, are you telling me that it’s a consequence?

Psychologist: Like everything in this world, being passive will only keep us where we are, which is not always negative, but we would never be where we really want to be. Always consider this.

TV Presenter: Well, I should bring my notepad more often (crowd laughs).

Psychologist: The most important factor for a full life is not only the peace you can find outside but the one here inside us, if you can find peace there…

TV Presenter: You could be a fountain of joy in the middle of a grey yard.

Psychologist: You couldn’t have said it better.

Robert turns off the TV, stands up and looks for a cup of coffee. His search doesn’t last long. He then reaches for a deteriorated trunk with an instrument inside it. In contrast to its container, the instrument seems resplendent, as if a fountain of youth stood in front of him. After some seconds, he raises his head and looks determinedly out the window towards his yard.

What am I waiting for? Robert wondered.

In other part of the town, an old lady named Mary is buying different kinds of meat but is a bit disappointed as she doesn’t find some other products. She stands at the checkout.

Cashier: Hi Mary, I see that your teeth don’t age. Beef? Well, you are daring today.

Mary: Ha, I guess I’m not as old as I sometimes think.

Cashier: Surely not.

The TV in the store is broadcasting the program Robert had been watching, all while the cashier is scanning the products.

Mary: Is not a psychologist a too serious guest for that show?

Cashier: Probably. I will assume it’s a desperate attempt to get extra ratings.

Psychologist on the TV: You couldn’t have said it better.

The cashier pauses, looks up at the television, surprised to hear the psychologist respond to her own comment, and then finishes scanning all the products.

Cashier: Have a nice day.

Mary: Of course, what could go wrong today? Thank you.

After Mary leaves the store, the cashier gives a knowing look as she thinks about the cliché phrase—what could go wrong today? Surely something would go wrong.

Back at her house, Mary put the meat in the fridge and stores the bread in the drawers. Dusk will come in just an hour and half, so she is ready to listen something on the radio. However, a sudden noise catches her attention. It seems ot be an accordion. She goes to see through her window and there, in the yard next to hers, an old man plays that tremendous instrument with a strange song which probably was created by himself, who knows. This nest of noise is in the house next to hers, so she goes outside to end the dilemma.

Mary: Excuse me sir

Robert continues, ignoring the woman.

Mary: Ehemm, excuse me sir!

Robert: (Stops playing) What happened? Should I play a different song?

Mary: No, I’m trying to—

Oh perfect, Robert interrupts, “I’ll keep playing then.”

Mary: Sir!

Robert: And now what? You didn’t tell me to play another song.

Mary: No, I want you to stop, I just went to buy groceries and I’m so tired. Your music only makes me madder than I already am.

Robert: Music is good for everyone! Why don’t you find some old box that may sound like a drum and join in?

Mary: My peace of mind is more important than your dissonant accordion demonstrations.

Robert: And what is, according to you, peace of mind?

Mary: Excuse me?

Robert: It seems so important, maybe more important than what I’m doing right now so it would be great if you explained it to me.

Mary: Listen, I don’t have time to explain what’s piece of mind or not, much less to a noisy old man.

Robert: In that case, I cannot listen to a reluctant old lady who doesn’t want to explain me what gives her peace.

Mary: Well, the potatoes are more expensive than usual. I’m not a big fan of the baguette but it was the only type of bread available. The only thing I hope after a day like this is the feeling that tomorrow everything will be part of the past while I listen to the radio. For me that’s peace, peace of mind.

Robert: I see, the concept of peace is normally the same for many people, but peace of mind will always depend on your own world. I used to have my own world, but it has been incomplete for a few years since she died. This accordion was one of the many ties that united me with that part of my world that is no longer with me. And if I have the possibility to replicate, at least a little, those good moments with this accordion, I will not disappoint myself. If you don’t mind, that’s my peace of mind.

Mary smiles at him and walks back into her house, leaving Robert with his accordion. She decides not to turn on the radio and lies on her bed, thinking about what just happened.

She slowly falls asleep; however, a dissonant accordion starts to sound in the distance.

Instead of going outside again, she opens a wooden box next to her bed. Among old pencils and dusty camera rolls is an old picture with a young Mary and a group of happy people hugging each other. In the background was young Robert and his wife, holding an accordion only she knew how to play.

“I guess he’s not that bad,” Mary said, looking at the photograph. “I wish you could see him right now; I think he’s getting better…”

About the Author

Joaquin F. Salazar Leyva (July 25th 2003, Peru) is a current student in Selkirk College taking part of UAS program. Writing has been something occasional during his school life, but recently tried to make it an organized hobby this time. Other interests include soccer, drama, and folkloric dance from his country.

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