Thursday 22 December 2016
Time: 5:00 pm
I had never imagined what I was getting myself into. It is difficult for me to make a decision because deep down all this seems to be based on something that is so imaginative that could only happen in films.
After checking the entrance of the light onto the street and on the church for some time, we’ve returned to our bench.
Standing by my side, Samuel has taken out his tablet and has written down something. The three of us are wondering about the reason he has given for not arriving at the same time as the rest of us. ‘He had to do things’ is the only explanation he gave us. And of course, who is going to ask him ‘what things’? Who dares to get involved in his mysterious life? At the end of the day, that’s how he is and we’re not going to change him. There’s something in him that inspires both respect and affection in me. Since the incident in the ice cream parlour, I’ve noticed that the others treat him better. I’ve always got on well with him, but I notice now that there is a greater rapport with the whole group.
I glance at him and smile without him realising that I’m looking at him.
Elsa and David are sitting on the backrest of the bench with their feet on the seat. I prefer standing because with the way the wind is blowing today, I can use both hands to smooth my hair each time the wind lifts it. Elsa has short hair and doesn’t need to. So she can use her hands to secure herself on the bench.
“I think,” I begin to say, “that we can agree that all this seems rather ridiculous, but at the same time there’s information that is taking us around the problem. But what is a fact is that people are losing their balance… Are we going to do it!”
The three of us look at each other in silence. Elsa turns her head towards the church which, at that moment, is in the shade. The three long windows in the facade observe us in silence as if waiting for us to guess their secret.
“After what has happened to my mother,” David adds in a serious and determined voice, “it’s very clear to me that we have to carry on with what we are doing.”
The three of us look at Elsa, as she continues to observe the top of the church. She still has not yet seen the small ‘gate’ in the roof, but I am sure that she is now curious.
I explained all to Samuel when he arrived and he has seen it immediately. That is when he took out his tablet to take notes.
Elsa is now watching us in silence. It’s an uncomfortable silence because neither David nor I dare to interrupt her.
“I, too, think that something is happening and we have to act,” Elsa continues, “but before we do, I would like to confirm some information at home tonight.”
She looks at the three of us again and says:
“But in answer to your question, the answer is yes…, but we have to prepare well for it.”
She stops for a moment.
I love it when she has her pensive face on, looking up with her fingers touching her bottom lip. If anyone made a sculpture of her, I’m sure they would put it in a museum. She looks inspired.
The time has come to start making decisions. I have to start moving things along.
“From what Nicola told us,” Samuel surprises us all, “what we need now is the music.”
He manages to attract our attention from the couple kissing on the bench next to us. All at once, we turn to look at him, frowning as if he reminded us of something that they told us when we were children. Since we left the old man’s house, no one has mentioned it. He’s taken us by surprise.
But he continues to look at his tablet and says nothing more.
I break the ice, “For the portal to open, Nicola said that at a certain time on the dot, a specific music must be played. Otherwise, it will not do…” I hesitate because I notice that the three of them are looking behind me, and David’s expression changes completely. I continue what I am saying, “… this is a momentous occasion. We are on the point of making a decision to embark on something that we have never imagined, and here we go!”
But just as I finish my sentence, I turn around and I find Erik standing and staring at me.
Although I am angry with him, I have to admit that he is one attractive guy. He’s wearing tight jeans with the ends tucked into the beige-coloured boots he’s put on today. He’s wearing a black woollen coat and the same white scarf he was wearing when we went to the museum. But today his hands are in his pockets, and to protect himself from the cold wind, he’s put on a Nordic woollen cap, which looks good on him. I am dumbstruck. I can only stare at him. I feel my heart pounding. I would shout at him right now for behaving so badly earlier, and at the same time I want to hug him for a long time, to feel his arms around me. But I do nothing. I just stare at him.
Suddenly, he breaks the silence:
“Before going anywhere…” He is quiet for a moment and then looks into my eyes: “… we have to talk.”
What a most unpleasant situation! I turn and see Elsa smiling at us. David, on the other hand, turns pale and avoids my gaze. He holds his hands so tightly as if he wanted to squeeze his fingers. I’ve only seen him like this once in class when the teacher asked him a question. When I turned around, I saw that he was nervous. I would like to ask him what’s the matter. I would like to continue with what we were talking about, but at the moment I am in a dilemma. I don’t know what to do.
“I’m going.” David suddenly stands up and picks up his bag.
I see Elsa taking his arm to slow him down, and with her other hand makes a sign to Samuel above his tablet.
“The rest of us have to go too,” she says, standing next to them and positioning us as if to form a circle of the five, she continues, “If you want, we can get together online tonight and share whatever we have. I think I know where I have to look for what I need. See you soon.”
The three of them leave. Elsa has taken David’s arm, but he doesn’t say good bye. I don’t know what’s the matter with him. Samuel walks alongside them, but a couple of metres apart.
“Let’s walk,” Erik says quite seriously.
He starts walking down the street to the left of the Church of La Magdalena towards the Calle Mayor. I walk beside him.
If anyone had said this to me and in this way at any other time, I would simply tell him to leave me in peace. But this time, I agree. If he wants to apologise for his behaviour earlier, I am not going to make it more difficult for him. I imagine that it’s not easy for him to do it.
After going across St Vincent de Paul Street, we head for Calle Mayor, but specifically to the intersection where I was earlier, before meeting up with the others, and where I had begun to relax among the crowd.
The Calle Mayor is somewhat special for me because it gives access to two of the plazas I like most in the city. One is the Plaza Santa Maria, where you can get some of the best tapas and enjoy a historical spot which has not lost its ancient knowledge. The other is the Plaza San Pedro Nolasco. We are heading towards it. As we cross Argensola Street, we turn left to go across this plaza.
It seems difficult for him to talk because during the time we’ve been walking, he has not said anything. And what is strange for him is that he has not taken his hands out of his pockets.
In Plaza San Pedro Nolasco, I’ve enjoyed very good open-air concerts on ancient music, organised for the festivals in the city. But today I’m not thinking of that as we walk along the street.
As we come to the end of Argensola Street, and before entering the plaza, I look to my right, where the Roman ruins of the ancient baths have been preserved. These ruins now hold another meaning for me with all that we are immersed in. The most special thing is that I am very close to the two most important preserved Roman ruins. The other is the amphitheatre which we are going to come across as we continue walking straight down the street to the end, with the church on the right. I glance across at Erik and I see that he is still looking down at the ground as he is walking.
As we continue further along Pedro Joaquín Soler Street, the full expanse of the old Roman amphitheatre opens up on our right. Erik stops, leans against the fence, facing the interior and without looking at me, begins to talk.
“What I am going to tell you is somewhat more incredible than all that we’ve been talking about until now.”
Well! Well! Well! I thought he was going to apologise. Although I must admit that he’s grabbed my attention.
“…the problem is that you may not be ready to hear it.”
Well, who would believe it? Not only does he not apologise, but he also treats me like a child. Then, he turns to me, puts his hands on my shoulders, and looks into my eyes.
“Are you ready to listen to something that is going to change your life?”
For some seconds, I don’t know what to say. Then, I simply nodded.
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Writer: Glen Lapson © 2016
English translator: Rose Cartledge
Publisher: Fundacion ECUUP
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