Do not believe everything you hear!

By Mariela Peña


Andrea Morales


About the book:

This novel, recommended for teenagers and young adults, is the third of a series (though they can be read independently) which addresses the challenges of the transition into adulthood: pressures from society, the search for identity, social media. Characters deal with issues such as peer pressure, romantic ties, the relationship with adults. The use of graphic resources that reflect the digital environment, such as WhatsApp conversations and interactions from other social media platforms, and the current everyday language in which they are written, are key for the readers, who value this approach, both intimate and respectful to such an intense, confusing and yet wonderful stage of life.


Chapter 1

Leave things behind.
Leave everything behind.
The corners of a time I no longer inhabit, what has remained of us, in spite of the effort I made to keep our time going in this world, which ceased to be what we thought.
Those corners that you yourself don’t inhabit anymore.
“What are you doing, sweetheart?” No answer. “Ambar!” her father shouted, annoyed, as he looked at her through the rearview mirror.
“She has her earphones on, she can’t hear you,” said her mother. “Ambar, Ambar!” she shook her daughter’s leg.
“What is it?” She took off one of her earphones.
“I was asking if you were okay because you haven’t said a word during the whole trip, but I’ve just realized you had those things on.”
“Everything’s okay, Dad. I’m writing.”
“You sure? You’ve not changed your mind, have you? You know we can always turn around and drive back. Perhaps you need to think it over a little bit more.”
“I haven’t changed my mind, not at all, on the contrary. I want to be there right now. I was writing, I’m okay.”
“Isn’t it uncomfortable to type those poems on the cell phone?” her mother asked as she opened the window to let some fresh air in.
“They are not ‘those poems,’ Mum,” she replied, a bit annoyed, “and no, it’s not uncomfortable. You may find it so because you grab your cell phone in that weird way and type with just one finger, which is why you take half an hour to text a reply.”
“Come on! She doesn’t take half an hour!” her father said. “She takes, tops... twenty, twenty five minutes.” All three burst out laughing.
“Don’t get smart with me, you two!” she remained silent and stared out the window.
“Sorry, Mum, I was just kidding, don’t get angry.”
“Angry? What do you mean angry? It’s not that.”
“What is it then?” Ambar and Daniel got serious.
“You’re about to start a new chapter of your life, far away from us, from you brother, your friends, your home.” She made a small pause. “Far from Thiago, too.” Ambar looked at her without saying anything. “I don’t want to pester you with that issue, but I care about your feelings. I have never been able to really understand what’s going on in your mind.”
“Mum, Thiago is a thing of the past.”
“Are you sure you’re not running away from something?”
“No, on the contrary. Actually, this is one of the reasons why I decided to break up with him. Neither of us believed in a long distance relationship.”
“Well, it is not such a long distance, it’s forty miles,” said her father in his characteristic Buenos Aires accent.
“Forty miles that would have been felt in everyday life. Have you forgotten how close we were? We were together 24/7. We did, lit, everything together.”
“You did lit? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Literally, Mum. We were all the time together.”
“That I noticed a long time ago. But... well, Thiaguito is such a good boy, and you looked so happy that sometimes, you know, we make the mistake of letting some things slide by, only to not interfere.”
“Yes, Dad. And I saw it too. There were days in which we parted only to go to sleep, and the next morning, the same routine aaaall over again. Breakfast at the Mc, walk to school, sitting side by side in the classroom, spending two out of three recess times with him, lunch together, homework together, movie —or series, or whatever— together, dinner, goodbye kiss, back home to sleep, and so on. It is impossible for a relationship that is so intense not to come to a bad end or, at least, to an end.”
“At your age, relationships are always like that, dear. With time, you learn bit by bit.”
“What do you mean ‘at her age’, Julia? Relationships, at any age, are supposed to be that way. The notion of individuality does not exist. Just look at married couples. They do everything in tandem or they don’t do anything at all.”
“Yes, exactly. I saw unhappy couples around me all the time. And I didn’t want to be one of those,” said Ambar in what sounded like a sigh.
“Did you get to the point of feeling unhappy?” her mother asked.
“I think it just was clear to me when to put an end to it.”
“Well, but it wasn’t a definite end.”
“It was an end. End of story.”
“Okay, but that’s why I’m telling you that the anguish you’re feeling now…”
“I’m not anguished, I’m telling you.”
“Anguish, anxiety, however you want to call it.”
“But it’s not the same. I am a bit nervous because I don’t know what’s waiting for me there. I’m moving into a university residence, a new place, full of strangers I’ll have to live with. But it’s just that. Healthy anticipation, I guess,” she placed the cell phone on her seat and glanced out the window.
“I think you’re going to make great friends and you’ll cherish this experience for the rest of your life. Besides, the residence is less than twenty blocks away from college campus. When the weather’s nice, you’ll be able to walk there, manage your time. You’re gonna have a great time there. If only I could be nineteen again!”, said the father.
“Miracle! I absolutely agree with Dad on this. But, of course, as soon as you tell me you want to get back home, I’ll come running to take you with me, my little baby,” she turned and started stroking her daughter’s leg. “No doubts there.”
“Aw, Mum, don’t be so dumb, please,” she patted her mother’s hand and smiled.
“Well, girls, here we are,” he turned on the parking lights and parked just in front of the residence. “Flores... My beloved neighborhood. I haven’t been here for years. Right there, in that corner, there used to be a bar, and then a drugstore. Everything looks so different now...” Daniel let out a longing sigh. “There is a tango, don’t remember the name now, that goes ‘my neighborhood is everything that is not here anymore,’ so true.”
“Where is it?”
“It’s that huge house, the one with the wooden door. Right there, across the street.”
She got to the door of the ‘El Jardin’ university residence, with her parents. There, they hugged her, ruffled her bangs, hugged her again. And, in tears, they gave her the last pieces of advice. They told her for the umpteenth time to take care, to call them if anything went wrong, they would go pick her up straight away, and many other things. Then, quite against their will, they got back into the car and stayed there until they saw her walk in. They looked at her, from a distance, with that rollercoaster of emotions that parents go through when they see a child that has grown up, because it is at that exact moment that they realize: when they see them from a distance, so young, and yet so grown-up, ready not only to survive in a hostile world, but to make it a better place.

Translated by Mercedes Rego Perlas / Laura Estefanía