23 June 2017: Seconds between sunset
The heat is stifling. My clothes are sticking to my body and I can’t stop sweating. I feel strange. It doesn’t feel like my body. This has never happened to me before at this time of year. In this city in June, the temperature has always been high, but what we are feeling today, I have never experienced it before. All that has happened has changed me. I am clearly not the same person, inside or out. My skin cannot get rid of the heat. Apart from my mother, who has been holding me in her arms for the last two minutes, nothing gives me relief from this oppressive heat.
The hug she gave me when she saw me was incredible. I expected her to do something, but not this. She has confused me. At the same time, I feel weaker even more than I was. The weariness in me is worse than the tiredness in my muscles. I thought that she was going to tell me off, that she was going to shout at me and be so angry that the punishment she would give me would be severe. “She was not going to catch me unawares,” I told myself as I prepared for this moment for almost six months.
“Forgive me, Sofia.”
Her words in a whisper, half a centimetre from my right ear, cannot be heard by the people standing around, looking at us.
I hold her even closer to me and say nothing. It is I who should be apologising, not her. But if I do it at this moment, I won’t be able to stop crying. I feel like a balloon that is so swollen that the slightest prick might make it explode. So many sensations, so many feelings have been welling up in me since we did the jump on 23rd December last. I have to think about something else. I am about to burst. The heat is so oppressive, I feel weak. Her presence calms me down, but it makes me feel guilty at the same time. This has got to stop. I am going to faint.
As if she read my mind, she takes me in her arms and helps me over to one of the benches near the ruins of the Roman wall of the city. What an irony! Right here. It couldn’t have been in the Arab or Jewish walls of the city – no, it had to be right smack in the Roman section. If what I had gone through these last few months had been a film, this would almost be funny.
Without saying a word or giving a toss about the seven people watching me, I turn around to stare at the large stones which were placed there many years ago. Anyone looking at me would think that I was searching for something. In fact, that is exactly what I am doing! I can’t stop searching for what I saw and touched weeks ago! What I would give to find it! I’m sure it is no longer there… thousands of years have passed.
In my dream-like state, Elsa’s father’s words sound grating, as if something unexpected that you hoped would never happen was actually happening. Like a slap which jolts you out of the first moment’s peace you have enjoyed after a few frenetic months. I know what he is going to say. I have been waiting for him to say it from the very first moment I touched down again in the city of Zaragoza. For the last 10 minutes since we jumped through the portal again in the intersection between Don Jaime Street and the Calle Mayor (Main Street), we have been running towards here: the West Gate of the city. We could clearly see how they built the gate and how he fixed that marked stone in place. Amazing! We couldn’t believe it then … and I still can’t.
“Where is Elsa?”
Her father’s words succeed in doing what I have trying so hard to prevent.
I can’t hold it back any more.
Writer: Glen Lapson © 2016
English translator: Rose Cartledge
Publisher: Fundacion ECUUP
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