23 December 2016: It is still dawn
The old man is staring at his hands as he draws the curtains. They are strong hands and he knows it. If they could tell you everything they had done during their lifetime, it would be years before they stopped. Hands of all the people they have clasped; the things they have held; the women they have caressed… the men they have killed.
A feeling of guilt grips him. Not all the things he did in his 60 plus years could be viewed in a good light in the eyes of other men.
And until today, he is proud of the road he has taken. He managed to convince a group of youngsters to do something that few people would understand and practically no one would approve of.
“Why haven’t you told them?”
He knew that he was being watched, although he did not know for how long.
The soft light of dawn through his old curtains prevents him from seeing the silhouette inside his apartment.
As he turns his head in the direction from where the voice is coming, he observes all his white furniture, the chairs in disarray where they have been left by the youngsters in his living room, until his gaze alights on the bust of the god Janus on the table at the entrance.
His eyes seek her out in the darkness of the room, but he cannot make out her face. He knows what she looks like. He would recognise the colour of her eyes anywhere and, in particular, the colour of her skin. His feelings for her have not changed over the years, but she made her choice… and she did not choose him.
Except for last night.
“It’s not the right time yet,” he answers from his position next to the curtains.
He observes her as she moves in the darkness, without letting him see her face. She leans slowly against the wall with her hands behind her back. She continues speaking in the shadows:
“I don’t agree, you should have warned them…”
Her unfinished sentence is like a sword through his gut. He had acted in the best way he knew how, to get the job done. She had no right to judge him.
“I did what I did…”
He doesn’t finish his sentence as he turns instinctively back towards the window. In a reflex action, he draws the curtains open once more to look down at the intersection below.
Now, it is no longer a sword, but an endless set of stabs he feels all over his body. His eyes remain transfixed, his lips clamped together so tightly that he can feel the blood pulsing through them. He feels a wave of nausea he has never encountered before. He has to hold onto the window frame to stop himself from falling. He does not even notice her leaning against his left shoulder as she tries to work out where the music is coming from.
He recognises the tune from the very first note.
“It can’t be!” he gasps, the words emerging broken from his throat, barely audible. “It can’t be!!
Through the window on the 8th floor, his sparkling tear-filled eyes stare in astonishment at the man standing in the middle of the Cardus and Decumanus intersection, playing a small wind instrument he holds in his hands. Opposite him, a strong rotating wind spins a set of dim lights, generating a portal in the middle of the street. It is the same scene he has just witnessed a few short minutes earlier with the youngsters. However this time, the feeling is one of fear, anguish and, above all, of failure.
The boy, who had fallen when the portal closed earlier, is still lying in the street. No one comes to this aid. The woman and the man who cried out when his friends left, now stand petrified, staring down at what they could never have imagined, as the light of dawn illuminates the boy’s whole body.
The continuous notes of the golden section number open the portal fully. In a desperate attempt to affect what is happening in front of him, the old man tries to open the window. After two attempts, he remembers that it was he who fixed the window shut when he moved in, and now he is helpless to prevent what is about to occur.
The man on the street below puts the instrument away in the left-hand pocket of his jacket and leaps into the portal.
Before the man disappears, the old man recognises what he is holding in his right hand. Although it is small, there is enough of it jutting out from his closed hand to see that it is one of the five figures of the god Janus he gave the young people earlier.
“How on earth did he get it?”
His question, broken and terrified, hangs in the air next to the white curtains, while an icy chill runs across his skin.
“Now they have two problems.” He hears her words close to him.
The voice of the woman standing at his side is also full of fear as she too has witnessed the same scene.
“Someone is after them…,” she continues, grabbing his arm as she stares into his piercing blue eyes, “and only one of them will be able to return.”
Writer: Glen Lapson © 2016
English translator: Rose Cartledge
Publisher: Fundacion ECUUP
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