This story took place in a “baldío” somewhere in Brooklyn, nobody knows if the story is true but everyone believes it could be.
Some time ago, but not so long ago – still no one knows exactly when this happened – there was an abandoned yard between two buildings on a street in Brooklyn. The grass had grown high, the climbing plants were tangled to pipes and tubes, there were parts of broken cars, pieces of glass, old furniture, cans, bottles, newspapers and garbage. The junk yard looked ugly, but it had been there for a long time, so people walked by without noticing the dirty and sad “baldío”.
One day a girl – a very serious girl with braided hair and lonely eyes – stopped at the front of the “baldío” to look at a little black cat who was tangled up with some ropes.
“How did you get caught in here?” asked the girl. She jumped over a big tube, pushed a piece of wood and reached the ropes that were hurting the little black cat. She took off her backpack to try to release him carefully. Finally, the cat was free. He looked at the girl for a moment and then run away. He did look back once, as if saying thank you, and that actually made the girl quietly smile. The girl put her backpack on again and continued walking home.
Every day, the girl walked by the abandoned yard and picked up one of the things, put it in a bag and then took it to the trash can on the sidewalk. At night the garbage truck would take it away, far away from the yard. After some weeks, the place was clean, birds and butterflies and even ladybugs had come to see the new place, wild flowers begun to grow by a “parra” that made a fresh shade where two doves built a nest for winter. The little soft black cat had come back and was lying under the sun, his hair shining like a starry night.
The quiet girl noticed that the “baldío” had turned into a garden, clean and bright with fragrant daisies and roses. It changed into a beautiful place to spend time playing, reading and listening to the birds and the whispers of the wind. The girl walked into the new “baldío” and sat down by the little cat to caress him. She smiled and whispered, “I will call you Risa.”
Soon people noticed the green yard and children started coming to play there every day after school. It was safe, clean and blooming. It was not quiet anymore but it was filled with beautiful sounds of laughter.
Not everyone has discovered the green “baldío” yet, but everybody knows it is somewhere close by, maybe at the end of the street or across the bridge, perhaps on the next block or at the other side of the river. Maybe – just maybe – anywhere you can find new smiles.