Lost Years


Podcast Episode

Soft, happy music fades in. Boisterous laughter can be heard in the distance interspersed with delightful squeals. The ambiance of scurried footsteps was accompanied by distant chatter.

Young Agueda: (shrieks) Haha! You can’t catch me!

Young Niall: Oh, just you wait, I’ll get you!

Both YOUNG NIALL and YOUNG AGUEDA laugh heartily with running footsteps layered in the background.

Niall’s Mom: Niall, bedtime!

Young Niall: Coming, mom! I’ll see you tomorrow, Agueda, take care!

Young Agueda: Bye Niall!

Happy music fades out. Footsteps fade in. The door creaks and shuts close, the door latch clicks in place. Wooden floorboards creak.

Niall’s Mom: You need to stop playing with Gomez’s daughter, Niall.

Young Niall: (protesting) Her name is Agueda and why? We always have so much fun!

Niall’s Mom: I’m telling you, that family is no good. Stay away from them.

Young Niall: But-

Young Niall’s Mom: No buts. You will stop playing with her and that’s final!

Young Niall: (reluctantly) Yes mom.

Eerie music fades in.

Niall’s Mom: Come, let me tell you a true story of how a brave young boy saved his family from an evil farmer.

Eerie music slowly fades out. Soft quiet music fades in followed by a rooster crowing. Running water is heard.

Agueda: Morning mama!

Tap squeaks and the running water slowly comes to a stop. Lunchbox slides across a wooden table.

Mama: Morning my little Gomez. I hope this is enough for today. (sigh) I’m sorry it’s not a lot.

Agueda: (cheerfully) That’s okay mama, I’ll try and see if I can find fruits on the way to school.

Distant shouting followed by the rustling of wheat grains can be heard.

Agueda: Mama…do you hear that?

Mama: I can’t hear anything. Is there someone there?

Agueda: I don’t see anyone.

Mama: Never mind that. Now go, you’ll be late for school.

Agueda: (fading out) Okay, bye mama. Love you!

The background noise of the teacher’s voice droning and whispers of students. AGUEDA’s stomach starts rumbling.

Agueda: Oh gosh. Just a little longer until lunch starts and then I can have something to eat.

School bell rings followed by scraping of chairs and cheering and rushed footsteps of students. The clatter of cutlery such as spoons scraping plates and ice being stirred in a cup along with the chatter of students carry on throughout the dialogue.

Agueda: Finally! Now, where’s my lunchbox? (Pause) There it is. Finally, time to eat!

AGUEDA starts munching on her food quickly. Slow footsteps are heard and eventually stop.

Niall: Well, well, well. Look what we have here.

Agueda: Go away, Niall. I don’t have a lot of food and just because you’re older than me doesn’t mean you get to bully me and take my food. Just leave me alone!

The chair scraped the floor followed by the clatter of metal lunchboxes.

Niall: Uh no. (snickers) You’re going to give me everything you have. I don’t care if it’s just an apple or a whole feast. Now give it!

Chattering dies down. Melancholic music slowly builds up.

Agueda: No! I haven’t done anything to you! Why do you keep bullying me?

Niall: It’s not just what you did to me. It’s what your family did to my family for years. And now, you and your entire family are going to pay.

Agueda: What are you talking about? My family would never do anything to hurt anyone.

Niall: Stop acting like you don’t know what I’m talking about. Now give me your food!

Metal lunchbox clatters against the table followed by a thud on the table.

Agueda: No! (wails) This is my food, I need it. I don’t know what you’re talking about!

Niall: How about you ask your beloved Abuelita what happened. What she did was because of you. Just make sure she’s not lying to you as well. And after what you made the Padros go through, I think you can handle another day without food.

Agueda: My Abuelita is not a liar. How can you say that when she adored you so much?

Niall: She’s not just a liar, she’s a thief, and all these things because of you.

Metal lunchbox clangs after being picked up, followed by footsteps fading out

Agueda: Wait no! Come back! That’s mine… (sniffles)

Melancholic music slowly fades out after a while. Students start chattering again. Footsteps fade in and come to a stop.

Niall: (whispering) Psst, come here! I thought you guys poisoned her crops. How does she still have food?

Bully 1: (whispering) Uh, here’s the thing. We tried to this morning but only got through half a bag. We’re going back to dump the rest after school.

Niall: (in a hushed tone) We? What do you mean we? I thought I asked you to do it yourself. And it was supposed to be done a week ago!

Bully 1: (hushed tone) I know but there were too many bags, and they were all so heavy! I couldn’t do it myself, so I had to get some help.

Niall: (whisper) No one else can know about this! I trusted you because you know the Gomez’s made my family starve for years! She used to be my best friend, now she’s the only person I hate with all my heart.

Bully 1: (whisper) No one knows what we put in her crops or why we did it. We’ll get the job done in the afternoon.

Niall: (whisper) Fine. I don’t want to be the one to do it, but I’ll come with you instead of your friends today! My mom’s been breathing down my neck about it.

Bully 1: (whisper) Your mom? Why would she-

Niall: (hushed tone) Don’t ask, I don’t even know. (sighs)

The school bell rings, and the chatter of the students fades out. Soft, calm music plays in the background accompanied by footsteps on the soil.

Agueda: Hi mama, I’m home!

Mama: Hi honey, how was school?

Agueda: It was (pause) okay…

Mama: Did something happen?

Agueda: It’s just that-

The music abruptly stops. Chickens crow angrily outside followed by footsteps running and a sack scraping on the ground. Tense music starts growing.

Agueda: What was that?

Mama: I don’t know. Let’s check, hurry!

Quick footsteps on the soil.

Niall: (fading in) Hurry! We can’t be caught.

Sack rustles and chicken crows angrily

Bully 1: (fading in) Let’s go!

Mama: Hey, you!

Niall: Run!

Running footsteps fade out. The tense music dies down but not entirely.

Mama: What did they do?

Slow footsteps on soil

Mama: (heartbroken) No!

Agueda: Mama, are you okay? What happened?

Mama: (suppressing her sobs) Nothing baby, go back inside, please.

Agueda: (enthusiastic) Tell me what’s wrong, I can help fix it! I can go ask for help and-

Mama: (more annoyed) Agueda just please go inside. I’ll fix this.

Agueda: (concerned) Let me help you…

Tense music climaxes.

Mama: (bawling, frustrated) Just go! Please!

Agueda: (voice breaking) Mama?

Mama: (sobbing) Everything is gone… You can’t fix this Agueda. (frustrated) This can’t be fixed at all, there’s no way of fixing this! (sniffles) This was our last source of money. And those boys just ruined it!

Agueda: (sadly, holding back her tears) There has to be something we can do. Why would anyone do such a thing?

Mama: Because they’re getting their revenge for something our family did! The Padros stole something from us centuries ago and our family retaliated, and it just kept going back and forth. (sniffles) Your Abuelita was the last person to take revenge on behalf of the Gomez family for us. She stole food from them. And now (in a squeaky voice, on the brink of crying) we’re paying the price for it.

Tense music trails off. MAMA bursts into sobs in the background. Sad music fades in

Agueda: (shaky voice) Niall told me that Tita did what she did because of me… (crying) That means I made the Padros starve for months? (hysterical crying builds up) But that can’t be true because Tita wouldn’t do such a thing, would she?

Mama: (sniffling) Agueda…

Agueda: (crying, in denial) No, no it can’t be true… I can’t be the reason for this!

Mama: This is not your fault baby. You’re not the reason this happened but it is because of the reckless decisions made ages ago and what Abuelita did for us. When you were born, we were so poor, and despite my wishes, she stole food from the Padro’s for us. (pause) (defeatedly) I have to go to the city to find a job now. You’ll live with Tita and help her with her work on the farm while I’m gone, ok?

Agueda: (crying) I’m not going to let that happen. (sniffles) I’ll fix this.

AGUEDA runs off. Sad music fades out. Students are chattering.

Niall: Look at her, all miserable and upset. Do you think she’ll be able to survive a week like this?

Bully 1: Like you said she deserves it.

Niall: It’s not what she did but what her family did. Anyone who messes with my family is dead to me.

AGUEDA’s stomach rumbles loudly.

Agueda: (sighs) Maybe, I can find something in the trees or leftovers from the school canteen.

Tense music fades in and slowly builds up.

Niall: (attempt at mocking) Oh you poor thing, do you not have any food?

Agueda: Go away, Niall. I know it was you and your friends who did this to us.

Niall: What? Me? I’m the most innocent person I know!

Agueda: (tearfully) What happened to the sweet person you were when we were five, my dear friend who used to play and laugh with me?

Niall: He grew up and realised the type of person you are. I didn’t want to believe my mom when she said you were the reason my family had no food for months, but she was right. Your poor family wanted food to celebrate your birth, so they stole ours and left us to starve while you ate everything!

Agueda: None of that is true! And anyway, if your family can survive months without food, I think I can go without a couple of meals.

NIALL slams his fist on the table and tense music climaxes

Niall: (angrily) Don’t you dare bring my family into this!

Agueda: (angrily) Why not!? Because none of what you are saying actually makes sense!

Niall: (frustrated) Because I want this to end!

Tense music echoes. The chatter of students stops abruptly and echoes.

Agueda: (taken aback) What?

Niall: (slowly) I agree none of this makes sense, but I was swept away by my mom’s story and felt that I needed to defend my family’s honour. But it hurt me so much to see you in pain… And over time I started thinking this doesn’t make sense. Why are we doing this?

Agueda: I wish you’d told me this earlier. I wish you had trusted our friendship. None of what you are saying makes sense, because I never had a party to celebrate my birth. We needed food and it was food your family stole, to begin with. In any case, this is all hearsay. Who knows which parts are true and which parts were just fuel to this centuries-old rivalry between our families.

Niall: You know what, I have an idea. Follow me!

Footsteps fade out.

Niall: Mom I’m hungry.

A full sack slams on a wooden table.

Niall’s Mom: What’s this?

Niall: A sack of sulphur?

Niall’s Mom: Yeah, I know it’s sulphur. I thought I asked you to use this on Gomez’s farm. How come it’s still here? If you tell me, you didn’t have the guts to-

Niall: Don’t worry mom.

Eerie music fades in and builds up.

Niall: One sack was enough to cover their entire farm.

Niall’s Mom: Huh, pathetic.

Niall: (Pause) Mom, what exactly did the Gomez’s do to us?

Niall’s Mom: Honey I can barely remember. It all started ages ago and it’s just been a feud between the Gomez’s and the Padro’s for as long as I can remember.

Niall: But then shouldn’t we do something to stop it?

A thud is heard and the music stops abruptly.

Niall’s Mom: What was that?

Niall: (hurriedly) Don’t try and change the conversation-

Metal pots and pans crash and fall to the floor.

Agueda: (whispers) Ouch

Multiple footsteps can be heard.

Niall: Agueda!

Niall’s Mom: (sinisterly) So you’re the little twerp from Gomez’s family. What are you doing here?

Agueda: I… Um…

Mama: Agueda! There you are! I’m so sorry Mrs. Padro. My daughter can be a handful at times.

Niall’s Mom: (disgusted) Yes, clearly.

Agueda: You shouldn’t be apologising to her Mama! He’s the one who poisoned our crops! But it’s ok because we talked about it and we both want to know why our families hate each other so much so we can fix this!

Niall’s Mom: You sneak into my home and eavesdrop on my conversation with my son and have the audacity to make such false claims? Niall would never do such a thing to anyone, especially people who are (Pause) (disgusted) less fortunate than us.

Agueda: Why is your family so mean to mine?

Mama: (scolding tone) Agueda!

Niall’s Mom: Maybe you should learn to keep your mouth shut in front of other people, right Niall? (pauses) Hang on, what do you mean we?

Niall: Um…

Mama: We’ll just leave before anything else happens. We didn’t mean to cause any trouble.

Footsteps fade out. The door creaks and slams shut. Slow footsteps carry on through dialogue and birds chirping. A distant dialogue between NIALL and NIALL’S MOM can be heard. Melancholic music fades in.

Mama: Why’d you do that Agueda?

Agueda: Because! It isn’t right that we have to suffer. We should fix this! I used to play with Niall all the time and now he’s my biggest enemy. And he doesn’t even want to hate me, it’s all his mom! What if we can convince her that we’re not bad people then-

Mama: Agueda, it’s better to just let it go than to create more conflict. We have to just move on and accept the fact that the only way to stop this war that’s going on between the two families is to be the first ones to not retaliate.

Agueda: But it’s not fair…

Extra set of footsteps running fade in.

Niall: Agueda, wait!

Footsteps stop and running footsteps stop a little later. Melancholic music fades into hopeful music.

Agueda: Niall? What do you want?

Niall: Nothing, well something. I want to fix this.

Agueda: I know your mom feels strongly about us and I don’t want you to have to go up against them. They’ll just end up hating you as well.

Niall: I tried asking my mom why we had this rivalry with your family. She felt so strongly about hating your family, but she didn’t even know why. And I guess that just didn’t sit right with me.

Mama: Look, we don’t want to cause any more trouble or be in any more trouble. She’s already angry that Agueda was sneaking around your house.

Niall: Oh, you wouldn’t be causing any trouble. I told her that Agueda and I planned to get to the bottom of this. It was hard but I managed to convince her to let Agueda come to my house. I want to find a way to convince my mom that the Gomez’s aren’t bad.

Agueda: Neither are the Padro’s Mama.

Niall: As an apology gift for my part in fuelling this feud, I brought you some seeds. I know it isn’t a lot but it’s the least I could do after poisoning your old crops.

Seeds rustle inside plastic packets and plastic packets crinkle.

Mama: Oh… (softly) So you did poison our crops… (normal voice) But thank you, that’s very sweet of you.

Hopeful music dies down slowly.

Agueda: Thanks Niall, but she’ll still have to go to the city for work. Unless you have a way to make these grow overnight?

Niall: I can try and find ways to sneak food out for you until I’ve convinced my mom to stop this rivalry. Maybe she can share some of our crops with you too until you have your harvest.

Agueda: Thank you, Niall. That would help us a lot.

Mama: It’s very brave of you Niall and very mature. I know there is a long way to go to fully convince your mom, but I am sure we’ll find a way. If there’s anything you need my help with, don’t be afraid to ask. I’ll see what I can do to help us get along quicker.

Niall: Thank you, Mrs. Gomez. Here’s to a refreshed start for all of us.

Agueda: (giggling) I think you meant to say a fresh start you silly…

AGUEDA and NIALL start laughing. Soft, happy music fades in – similar to the one in the beginning.

Niall: Ok you have five seconds before I chase you down.

Agueda: (giggling) Just like old times huh? You’ll never be fast enough to catch me.

Niall: Oh, just you wait, I’ll get you!

Boisterous laughter can be heard with the sound of footsteps running that fade out.

​​Simran (Class of 2024) is a Literary Arts student who loves exploring different stories about people. She also likes music and art, and likes to draw inspiration from them.