Jose Gonzalez Ferrio is a 2021 Centre Court participant.
Centre Court is an online arts program for youth created by Theatre Passe Muraille with outreach partner Scadding Court Community Centre. For 8 weeks, young artists from the community worked with professional artists to explore the vibrant world of artistic creation. This program culminated in a work-in-progress showcase at the 2021 Paprika Festival.
For more information please contact the Community Engagement Coordinator Angela Sun at firstname.lastname@example.org
Untitled | by Jose Gonzalez Ferrio, Centre Court 2021 Participant
Content Warning: Descriptions of wartime violence and death
A boy sleeps under the covers of his bed. He is hiding in a basement. His mother on a mattress on the floor across from him, a cat, next to the boy. They hide from the bad men his frail yet kind mother is always talking about. His family had always been a shaky one, from a young age his father taught him of the sad reality he was going to have to endure.
“Why do you do this!” the young boy yelled. His mother’s tears fall to the cold floor she sits on. She yells at him to stay quiet. He is always quiet. He had always been told to shut his pitiful mouth, but this time he couldn’t contain the overwhelming tears of fear, for far too many were shed.
“Why do you do this!?” The young man’s father turned to him.
“Please don’t!” the mother screamed with what she had, but it couldn’t turn the eyes of the man she once loved away from their son.
The boy knew where he stood. He thought: this is how his mother must feel every time. “Why do you think I do this? Hmm?” The boy trembling with fear is frozen, his mind, body and soul can only give him enough strength to stutter meaningless words.
“Look at me” the man gets to the child’s level to face him. A child full of innocents stars into the void for the first time. Emptiness consumes the face in front of him. He had never been more afraid of nothingness in his short life.
“I’m sick of this stupid stunt. It’s going to get us all killed!” I can’t take anymore of you or your damn mother anymore!”
“But it’s for the better, mom said-”
“I don’t care about what she says, people will suffer regardless of anything. Listen, and listen well.” The man strikes the young boy in the stomach. Everything in his body is shaken.
“No!” he hears his mother cry out. As he falls to the ground his vision blurs.
“People are born to bear pain and suffering, that’s all anyone in this goddamn world is good for! You get it!?”
The boy wakes up from his slumber. He gets up from underneath the sheets and yawns. They live in a small quiet village north. But no matter how quiet, the bad men are everywhere and could find them at any second.
He sits up. For him it’s just another day. He notices his mother is not there but figures she went up to get breakfast. The small cat nudges it’s head on the boy’s shoulder. He gently brushes his hand on the cat’s head and gives a slight smile. They’ve had this cat ever since they started hiding from the bad men. One day it just started following the boy and they’ve been close ever since. The boy hears a noise, it’s the secret door hidden behind a bookshelf. He hears footsteps coming down the stairs. His mother walks down and reveals his breakfast to him.
“Hey, how are you doing?” The boy doesn’t speak, he usually doesn’t see a reason to, but after a small pause that felt just a while longer he speaks.
“I’m ok,” he says quietly while he starts slowly eating.
“And how about Lana?” asks his mother.
“Oh, she’s doing good I think,” the boy looks at the cat. He grabs some of his sausage and tosses it over to her, and she begins to eat it.
“Hey so, I just received some word that the war may be coming to a close in the next coming months,” the boy’s mother looks at him with a large smile.
“Oh that’s good,” the boy says forcefully.
“Come on, this means we won’t have to hide from them anymore, we could be free!”
“But then what if more war happens, it probably will. People will suffer.” the boy lowers his head as if he knows he might start crying. He does it so his mother doesn’t have to witness his shame.
“Hey don’t think like that, please.” His mother gets up and hugs him.
“This war ending means that everything can go back to normal, we can do anything you want, go anywhere you want, so for now stay strong okay? I love you.”The boy hugs his mother back.
“I-I love you too.”
Although he stays strong for his mother he still thinks that suffering is all that will come of anything, after all he is alive.
“Tomorrow we head out, we’re going north ok so we need to conserve our energy for tomorrow’s trip.”
“Ok.” He nods
They hear the door open, and a girl comes running down. It’s the daughter of the good people letting them stay here.
“Hey! How are you doing!” the girl asks the boy excitedly.
“Hey, I’m alright-”
“And you!?” The girl cuts him off and crouches down to pet the cat on the head.
“You’re so cute!” The cat brushes it’s head against her leg to show affection. She bounces back up to speak to the boy.
“You say that all the time! C’mon be something other than ‘alright’ or ‘ok’ once in a while!”
“Oh-” The boy says as he is cut off again
“I’m doing amazing, maybe we can try going out back and playing with the snow again!”
“Not a chance.” The mother says not wasting a second
“Aw c’mon we’ve only gone out and played once, it’s been a whole month since you have been here” the girl responds trying to persuade the boy’s mother
The mother chuckles a bit before speaking.
“You know what situation we are in right? Please know that this is just for safety. You know what could happen if we get caught! Plus a blizzard will blow through here soon. It’s just not safe.”
“Fine,” the girl pouts.
“How about we play tomorrow, right before we go mom?” Asks the boy
The girl looks at him.
“Y’know one last time before we go. Not too long, m-maybe we can build a snowman or something.” Although a part of him does want to spend some final time with the girl, he knows he is saying this for her.
“Please?” The boy gives a smile
“Yeah! Please!?” The girl follows up.
“Fine, but a small one ok? I can’t have him losing too much energy.”
“Thank you!” the girl says loudly
“Thanks.” He says as he smiles to his mom
“Well I have to go help my parents with something, see ya later!” she waves to them both and races up the stairs and leaves
“Don’t worry, I’ll stay connected to her parents so you guys won’t be separated permanently”
“What do you mean?”
“You have a thing for her don’t you?” His mother smiles in his direction. In embarrassment, the boy looks away to avoid confrontation.
“Just thought I’d let you know so you don’t have to worry.” She says as she smiles.
There’s a small pause of silence before his mother talks again
“Well, I’ll keep-”
A loud bang is heard at the top of the stairs. The boy’s mom signals him to stay put and to be quiet. She slowly walks towards the stairs until a voice is heard.
“This is germany’s nazi force! If there’s anyone in here we asked you to surrender and come out.” They bang on the shelf once more and the mother screams.
“There’s a woman on the other side. Open up!” several men are heard. She looks at the boy in fear, as she had just realized what she had done, but with not but another second of hesitation she begins grabbing bags and putting stuff in.
“There’s a map, food, a compass, and some camping equipment in here,” she whispers.
“Just in case this is also this, you have limited ammunition so please don’t waste it.” The mother hands him a gun. As quickly as she moves the more frequent the banging on the door is.
“We have no choice but to break it down!” they yell. She opens a trap door on the wall and pushes the boy in.
“It leads to the back of the house, please, escape!” She grabs the cat and gives it to the boy.
“I love you.” She closes the door and jams it from the outside. The boy without a word to be said, can’t process what just happened. On the other side of the door he hears nothing but shuffling, until a loud bang is heard and several people can be heard inside. He begins to cry, his cat jumps out and runs to the far end of the narrow hallway leading outside. He sees this but can hardly walk. All he can do is cry. It all just happened too fast, but as he hears the bad men at the other side, fear consumes him.
Why, why did she do this, why did she leave me alone. Was it because I caused her suffering? Maybe she didn’t want to be with me anymore. Horrible thoughts swallow him, but he remembers that the last thing she said was.
“I love you.” He looks down at his hand, it’s holding a gun. He briefly looks at the barrel.
I need to leave, he thinks. As he looks at the exit his tears start streaming even harder, but as he is crying his heart out, he closes his eyes and runs toward the light. The cold snow touches his forehead, but he keeps moving, he tries to wipe the tears blocking his vision. He notices his cat isn’t with him, but he knows that it’s close, it always has been. He turns the corner to the back of the house to find two of the bad men kicking and stomping on the cat with their boots, they are laughing and chuckling. To them it was entertaining.
The boy is at a loss for words and screams and points the gun at one of the men, they both notice him but before they can do much else the boy shoots one of them in the head instantly killing him and bringing him down. The other cowers with his hands up.
“D-don’t do this! I have a family, I have a son your age please don’t-” after hearing that the boy closes his eyes and crunches his face. Not of hesitation, but of sorrow. Before the man said another word the boy shoots him dead.Silence consumes the next couple of moments until.
“GRAHHH!” the boy shaking, screams. The white snow they were gonna build a snowman on had turned red. It’s turned into a battlefield and blood sheds on a battlefield. As he cries he sees his cat. It’s limbs mangled up, most of its bone’s shattered. It was clear it was bleeding internally as it coughed up blood. It was still alive. With any form of hope that could possibly be gathered from the situation, the boy quickly grabbed the frail cat in his arms.
“What’s going on over there!” One of the bad men yelled as they heard the gunshots. With intense emotion still stirring inside this young boy, he decides to run, it didn’t matter where, he just wanted this all to end.
And so he runs, holding this once identifiable creature in his arms. Still, he won’t let the bad men get to them. As he runs into a forest far behind the house, gunshots are heard and soon he realizes they were flying towards him. This doesn’t stop him though, at this point he doesn’t even know why he runs, but he doesn’t stop. One of the bullets finds itself inside the boy’s leg and he almost falls, but although this slows him down he doesn’t stop to even look at it or look back for a second.
Eventually the bullets stop, but he keeps trying to run regardless. As each second passes he moves slower and slower, but he can’t even know why he keeps going anymore. Before he can even think, he is pushed down by a strong wind. It’s so cold. As he tries to get up he can’t and soon he gives up. As he spends his final moments with his cat he cries.
“I-I-I’m sorry.” Tears rain of remorse.
“This is just a consequence of being alive, I’m sorry you have to share it too.” He screams and cries as the snow swallows them up slowly. He can feel the cat’s shattered bones, but feels it’s breaths getting weaker and weaker. As they both prepare to die the cat shares one final gesture with him. It touches his forehead with the snow covered fur on its head. This stops him and he opens his eyes. Although being surrounded by a blizzard, he feels warmth. He can’t describe it but it’s something beautiful, something he had never really stopped to consider. Tender moments of his fleeting memory find him. For the first time, he truly recognizes that warmth, the one that’s kept him going for so long. He can’t help but smile.
“I love you too.” He feels his cat slowly stop moving, and he knows he is soon to be next, but has accepted this.
Mom, are you there? I can feel you too. It’s so cold. I want to go home. I miss you. I want to see that girl again. She makes me feel happy. Can we go outside and play together? Lana. You’re so cute. You want some food? Your fur is so soft. I miss you all. I can’t wait. Although we all suffered, I’ve learnt that it’s ok. Having people like you in my life makes it worth it. Thank you all for being so nice to me. I hope I was able to make you guys happy too. I couldn’t have asked for a better life… What’s my name again? What do you guys look like again? Where are we again?
We are here.
Who said that?
Does that matter?
I guess not.
It’s alright you’re not alone.
As you said, other people are what make life worth living.
Well here I am. Life is too lonely and painful to live through by yourself.
Hey, how are you doing?
I’m doing alright.
See what else is on
Theatre Passe Muraille (TPM) is Canada’s original alternative theatre company, located in the city of Toronto. Since 1968, we’ve created over 700 new Canadian plays. Our mission is to break down walls by pushing against boundaries; to create art with and for an audience, examining the marginal, the unexplored and the unforeseen.