After 24 years, Gabriel García Márquez returned to Aracataca...on a train painted with yellow butterflies. The train left from Santa Marta late this morning and passed our school during lunch recess. Everyone flocked to the fence to watch history float by. Some of us stood on tables, while a hundred children raced to the end of the school grounds to watch that "magical train" pass. One of my students was riding it. She is nine.
Every recess just before lunch she sits by me while we watch the kids play soccer. She tells me stories from her week and the funny or startling things she's seen and heard. She began slipping me scraps of fiction at the beginning of the year, and I was so delighted and amused by her unconventional stories, I told her that although I'll treasure them forever, I don't want her to lose such great work. I found a blank notebook and she spent nearly an hour eagerly copying down her tales of the beautiful witch who jilted a hapless prince at the altar and flew to Rome and became a millionaire instead...of the girl who murdered the devil because he had once told her that he was her father, and then later (absentmindedly) told her to kill her father...of the man who walked out his front door, hit his head, and promptly forgot who he was...of the lonely sun and the lonely moon who found each other by chance, while the stars first ridiculed them, then attended their wedding... (There are also poems and songs.) It was only last week that I found out who her great-uncle is.
I look forward to sitting on that wooden balance beam tomorrow, watching the kids play soccer and listening to her tell the story of today. Maybe I'll even ask her to write it down.