THE UGLY GIRL
The girl’s face was dark and she had eyes like sloes. The girl wore her hair parted in two locks, braided on either side of her face. Every day she would go to school, with her notebook filled with writing and a shiny apple for a snack. But the schoolgirls would say to her: “Ugly girl;” and they would not hold out their hands to her or stand next to her, either when playing in a circle or jumping rope: “Go away from here, ugly girl.” The ugly girl would eat her apple, watching them from far away, from the acacias, beside the wild rose bushes, the golden honeybees, the malignant ants and the sun-warmed earth. There nobody said to her: “Go away.” One day, the earth whispered to her: “You have my same color.” They placed hawthorn flowers on the girl’s head, rag and curly paper flowers in her mouth, blue and purple ribbons on her wrists. It was very late, and everybody said: “How pretty she is.” But she went to her warm color, to the hidden perfumes, to the sweet hiding place where she could play with the long shadows of the trees, with the blossoms yet to be born and the sunflower seeds.
The child grabbed the orange pencil, the long yellow pencil, and the one that was blue-tipped on one end and red on the other. He took them out to the corner and lay down on the ground. The corner was white, sometimes half black, half green. It was the corner of the house, and every Saturday they whitewashed it. The child’s eyes were irritated by all that whiteness, all that sun that cut into his look like the blade of a knife. The child’s pencils were orange, red, yellow, and blue. The child set the corner on fire with all his colors. His pencils – especially that yellow one, so long – caught fire from the green shutters and window coverings, and everything crackled, flared, and curled. It all crumbled and splintered on his head, a spectacular shower of ash, that swallowed him up in flames.
Translated from Spanish by María del Carmen Luengo Santaló and Aileen Dever