withered night leaves jon alonso   This agenda appeared in an clothing store in Donostia. The owner never reclaimed. The diary, at first glance, looked like any other diary.
The shop assistant remembered that the person who had left it behind had wanted to buy a pair of trousers.
- Do you remember what she was like?
The shop assistant, a girl, didn’t seem to sure.
- Like me I suppose. Your average girl.
- The shop assistant wasn’t my type. She was pretty enough, but she gave the impression she was one of those girls that had to hear it said.
The owner of the diary wouldn’t ask as much.
- Did she buy the trousers then?
- No. She didn’t take them in the end - as she said this she brought her hands towards buttocks – I think they were a bit too tight for her, and we didn’t have a bigger size.
I looked at her buttocks, well her hips actually. There wasn’t a pair of pants in the whole world that her almost non-existent buttocks wouldn’t have been able to slip into. That meant that the owner of the diary, a normal girl, wasn’t – unlike the shop assistant – stricken with anorexia.
- It’s a pity, we got bigger sizes in later on. They would have fit her well.
- So, she just left her diary here like that?
- No she didn’t leave it here. It must have dropped out of her bag when she went to pay.
- I thought you said she didn’t buy the trousers...
- No, but she did buy a blouse...

There was a text at the end of each month in the diary. The page with the first three days of July had been ripped out, so the piece of writing at the end of June – by Angeles Caso – was right beside the page for Friday, the 5th of July. The only thing between them was the jagged stub of paper left over from the missing page. The text was about the Portuguese journalist who had been killed on the Rainbow Warrior years before. The page for July the 5th however was about San Fermin; the festival started for the owner of the diary on that day. The diary read: 371 euro.

I had done my sums before gong to the shop: 3.721 euro from July the 4th to the 15th. Not bad at all. The drop off didn’t seem to have arrived until Sunday the 15th: only 77 euro. It was understandable. A reduction brought on by overindulgence in drink probably. Everybody was either completely wasted or broke by then. It could have been a minimum charge, just like a taxi driver hitting the meter as you get into the cab, or maybe a quick paid-for pleasure that wasn’t part of the full service. Saturday the 6th on the other hand, was a different story: 600 euro. How many times would you have to do it? 3, 4, 5, 6? The Portuguese journalist’s name was Fernando Pereira. Caso was denouncing the fact that, ten years on, France was still at its nuclear tests. The article called it a huge step backwards in history. Suppose that’s why history is a frightened being. A thousand years on, and water just flows along its course.

It wasn’t, I must point out, all cold-blooded business accounting in the diary. There was other more suggestive stuff: “cops’ day. They turned up and... there, there, there”. Who could this guy who seemed to live in the old part of the city be? This “Pepe, the smoke man”. The was a simple shopping list as well: “washing powder, two liver steaks, rings for the curtains”. And there was this one too: “Edurne, health and welfare. Control". There was a name on the first page, the first page of the year: “Rebeca”. It might have been her real name. Then again, it might not.

- Give us those trousers.
- Sorry?
- Give us those trousers, the big ones you said would fit her.
I left the shop.
The diary, as if it were some song looking to sing the praises of humanity, carried important events that had happened on corresponding dates in the past. On a 27th of January they had released the last 7,000 prisoners from Auschwitz. On a 13th of February a Louis Loumière had registered some contraption called a cinematograph at the Parisian Patent Office. March the 8th carried the news that a hidden criminal hand had torched a factory in New York where 192 women were staging a lock in to demand better rights. Burnt to a crisp. And so on. From month to month the same song and dance.

There was a word written in for the future October the 17th: ONCHA. There was an attempt at a phonetically written version with the same pen. A “Z” was scrawled over the “H”. ONCHA. Must be a foreigner. Like most of them. Only ten days to go now. That was a lot of coming and going, a lot of lies as explanations and I wouldn’t have to ask for a whole bunch of favours.
I’m a sailor who’s well used to navigating on the seas of influence. A friend of mine says that you should never look at an owl’s feathers. That’s what he says. I have never understood him. I think he means you should stick to the job at hand, well that’s what I make of it anyway. The places he says this in have led me to believe this, but I can’t tell you why, I mean, to come to that conclusion he picks an owl and I don’t know what feather or skin you’re supposed to look at. I may also be completely and utterly wrong.
But I won’t look at the owl’s feather.

When I found out who Rosa was, and when I told her on whose behalf I was there to see her, she told me to get outside to the car park. I thought it looked just like one you’d come across in an Eastern European village.
The shadows projected by all the trailers shrouded the shitty little car park in darkness. The only thing to be heard were the songs and high spirits of a few people on their way back form a cider house. I didn’t think we had been followed.
- I don’t owe her nothing. Tell her to get off my case.
She spoke Spanish rather slowly and with a bit of an accent.
- She’s a pig.
- She gave me this for you.
She took the parcel. My eyes had become accustomed to the darkness, and I think she was taken aback. I lit up a cigarette.
- Didn’t she tell you, then? She’s a pig, a right fucking bitch.
“Fucking bitch” she said. The words just flew out, so far from where they had come from. The thing is that nobody really knows where they come from. Nor where they’re going. Just like owls. She opened the parcel and took out the trousers. At first, she didn’t seem to understand. Then she a loud dry cackling laugh erupted from within her. I thought she sounded like a drill.
- She can stick them up her arse! – she flung the trousers in my face.There wasn’t much more for me to do there.
- I’ll give you a week. In a week’s time I’ll tell her where I’ve found you. I have to tell her. Whether I want to or not.
- Rebeca – if that was her real name – had already turned round and headed back to the club, ran back almost. Her hair swung from side to side. It looked as if it were a feather just about to gently fall to the ground. Like leaves falling from a tree at night.
An owl hooted somewhere.