“Where do you think Marcos is today?” The group of old ladies that reunited in the park every afternoon to talk about this and that were asking.
“I haven’t seen him” said doña Leticia.
“Me either” said doña Juana.
All the other ladies in the group of around ten that were there agreed. The conversation went up and down like a sinuous path towards the mountains. The voices rose when the topic was polemic and were almost a murmur when one of the ladies allowed herself to share some gossip.

Those were other times. There was no TV. The neighbours knew the names of all the children and were able to look after them when mum and dad had to go out of the house for a visit, or to the town to the pharmacy, because there was not one near there, only the one in town.

“Marcos visited us last week at home, and because of his filth we invited him for a bath” said doña Matilda, one of the older ladies.
The conversation directed to the high prices of vegetables and the need to grow your own in the backyard. Nobody denied that it was going to be hard work because the neighbourhood was sitting on a piece of land near the hills where there were many loose stones. To cultivate this land it would be necessary to separate the soil from the stones, but at the same time they thought that it would give them some savings on the meagre salaries that heir husbands were bringing home from the factory. What if they make a community garden where the ladies can continue meeting, talking and laughing, and at the same time work the land?

“Listen, I think I hear Marcos”, said doña Leticia.
“No, it is not him”, remarked doña Matilda. “I wonder where he goes when he disappears? He doesn’t seem to have a family or a fixed place to live.”
“Never mind,” added doña Braulia, “he will make his presence known when he is ready.”
“He is like a ghost”, remarked doña Juana. “He appears and disappears at will.”

And like that, the afternoon continued until late, when the ladies had to think of returning home to prepare dinner for their husbands and children.
Suddenly, the children that were returning from school entered the scene accompanied by a big yellow dog with a smile on his face and wagging tail and everybody screamed his name at once: “Marcos!”


Image credit: Tim Parkes, Alamy

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