Nothing Lasts Forever Anymore
Michael Lederer was born in 1956 in Princeton, NewJersey. He wrote this book in 1984-85 while livingon the coast of southern Spain. The Great Game, acollection of 18 of his short stories, was published byPalmArtPress in Berlin in 2012. Lederer is the founderand Artistic Director of the Dubrovnik ShakespeareFestival in Dubrovnik, Croatia. He lives inBerlin, and in Cadaqués, Spain.
Nothing Lasts Forever Anymore
It began, at least, like any other day. The sun had not yet risen above the peaks of the Sierra Nevada, and only the white light from the moon and stars shone down on the little cortijo . The cock had already been crowing for an hour or so, and the crickets in the olive trees were chirping back and forth to one another.
Aurelio finished milking the two goats, and now he carried the milk in an old pail down the narrow pathway to the house. The rest of the family was still sleeping, and as he did every morning, so as not to wake them, the old man quietly put the pail down on the wooden table in the kitchen, turned and went back outside.
It was cool still, and he stopped just outside the door to make sure that the top button of his sweater was fastened. Then he walked back up the little pathway, past the barn and the chicken coop and the cages where the pigeons and rabbits were kept, until he came to the end of an old dry-stone wall. This wall had been built by Aurelio's grandfather nearly a hundred years before, and had at last, just recently, begun to crumble. The old man and his son, Juanma, knew that if they didn't mend it soon whole sections of the wall would be in danger of collapsing, and there had been plenty of talk of getting to it for some time. But as always there was more work on the cortijo than they and Concha, Juanma's wife, were able to handle, and so the wall for the time being had had to wait.
Aurelio turned now and left the path. Stepping carefully so as not to trip on the rubble, he made his way along the wall until he came to a spot where it was still fairly sturdy, and where the stones along the top were relatively smooth. Then he stopped. He pulled a little piece of cardboard from his rear pocket, unfolded it, laid it flat across the smoothest stone and sat. It was from this spot every morning that the old man loved to watch the sun rise. He shifted his weight around a bit until he found the most comfortable position, and crossed his arms to shield himself from the morning chill. Then he simply sat there, hardly moving, waiting for the sun.
In front of him, stretching down the hill and toward the sea, was the family's small olive orchard. As if in some sort of primordial challenge to the light from the moon and stars, each tree cast a long dark shadow onto the ground as if it were a kind of gauntlet. Aurelio's own shadow, meanwhile, fell behind him onto the other side of the wall where it skirted the edge of the family's little vineyard. It was from this vineyard that Aurelio and Juanma produced their vino del terreno , an unfortified, sherry-like wine of which the old man in particular was very proud.
Further up the hill, just beyond the vineyard, were three terraced rows of, respectively, avocado, lemon and blood-orange trees, while above and to the right of these stood the family's small almond grove. Altogether they were able to raise nearly everything they needed to survive. And what they couldn't provide for themselves, they bought with the money they earned by selling some of their olives, and most of their almonds, to the little market stalls in the nearby town of La Herradura.
For some time, as Aurelio sat there thinking, nearly everything in sight appeared to be one or another shade of blue. From the blackish blue of the Sierra Nevada silhouetted in the distance, to the pale blue of the whitewashed walls of the cortijo . Beyond the cortijo at the bottom of the hill the Mediterranean sea, the darkest blue of all, stretched out from the shore to the horizon, while in the distance the lighthouse across the bay at Torrenueva shot forth its intermittent beacon. A light from a small fishing boat would sometimes also pierce the darkness and, as if