Friday 23 December 2016
Time: one minute between dawn
My heart is beating at such an incredible rate. Deep down, I’m trembling with what I am feeling within me. This is the most fantastic experience I’ve ever had in my life. I’m very happy that I’m involved in this adventure. We’re going to re-establish balance! Although I ought to have more humility and be more thoughtful than simply thinking that we’re going to try to re-establish balance!
During the walk to the church, I’ve been watching my companions. Although I continue to feel the same way towards Sofia, I now see Erik in a different light. I’ve discovered a great person. With a lot of cool perseverance, he has succeeded in discovering the last clue we needed. I’m very proud to be part of this team that the five of us have formed.
This is my last thought when I look up. At the top of the church, the sun is beginning to light up the tower and I shout at the others to look up. I can’t stop looking up, knowing that behind the facade in the roof, there is a little gate built with bricks. Since the day Sofia saw it, we still haven’t found out why it is there.
Suddenly, I feel Elsa grab my arm and is making a sign for me to stop a moment. I don’t understand what the problem is. We are super tense at the moment and so I move away from the group. What’s the matter with her? I notice Sofia looking at me as I turn to Elsa. We move four paces away from the rest of the group towards the benches in the plaza.
“David, I want to have a word with you.”
It’s a little strange. We ought to be with the others, preparing for what we have to do. As the first light of dawn can be seen in the sky, against her dark skin, the white of her eyes and teeth shine like lights in the darkness. Her look is insistent and I notice a tension between happiness and deep anxiety. She keeps rubbing her hands, and standing next to me, her eyes are level with mine.
“Elsa,” I respond nervously as I glance at the others. “We have to hurry. We have to leave now.”
“But…” she starts doubtfully, “there’s something important that I must tell you.”
Her intention continues to be a mystery to me, but now it’s not the best time.
“Elsa, now is not the time.”
She jumps quickly, “Then, when?” She looks down at her hands. “What I have to say is very important to me.”
I put my hands on her arms and, with the best smile I could manage, I say to her:
“I promise you that after the jump, we’ll talk in private.”
She looks back at me with expressionless eyes.
“I promise you!” I insist. “I swear. But now, let’s go please.”
“OK!” Her face lights up with happiness again. “As soon as we do the jump, OK?”
I nod. I give her my hand in a gesture of agreement, and without releasing her hand, I turn and we join the rest. Sofia frowns as she sees our linked hands. I release Elsa’s hand immediately. I don’t know what she’s thinking. Now, we cannot be distracted from the jump.
“Let’s go! Let’s go!” I say, clapping my hands hard to take command of the situation again.
Like robots because we have instructions on what we have to do, we go towards the wall on which the old Eastern Gate is drawn. The five of us hold hands, and looking at the painted inscription, we read aloud what is written:
Porta Romana Qui Faciun(t) Te la(res) Recedant
I had learnt it by heart, but when we got there, with all the nervousness, I had completely forgotten it. Fortunately, it was written on the wall, and that enabled me to recite it. “Roman gate, let those who built you return to your country,” I repeat to myself. I hope it works.
Anyone in Plaza de la Magdalena at this time would see five young people shouting some words, and then suddenly running at full speed towards Calle Mayor. He would think that we were mad, and it would be no wonder.
We notice behind us that the sun is coming out. It is beginning to light up the top of the buildings. The sunlight continues downwards. We are running at full speed. Elsa is first and she demonstrates her physical prowess. Samuel is last. Barely able to keep up, he manages to pick up the pace with the rest of the group.
We’ve spoken several times about having to be very careful when we reach the intersection with St Vincent de Paul Street. So, when we reach the traffic lights, despite not wanting to, the four of us suddenly come to a halt. The cars keep coming. We almost bump into each other. We wait for Samuel. Just then, the pedestrian light turns red. Several cars and a bus are coming. We wait.
“Oh, goodness! We’re not going to get there on time,” Sofia says, looking back and pointing at sunlight moving downwards on the building.
When at last the light turns green for us to cross and, checking first to see that no one was coming unexpectedly, we run across the street. At full speed, we rush up Calle Mayor. Samuel, apparently spurred on by Sofia’s words, is now in second place behind Elsa.
“Quickly!” I shout behind me, when I turn and see Sofia lagging a little behind.
It starts getting very tense. The sunlight is moving down. It will soon light up the intersection and, if we don’t arrive on time, we will miss our chance. Suddenly, I hear a scream:
I turn around again and see Sofia on the ground. She’s a couple of metres in front of a man who is also on the ground. When I was passing the gate, I noticed someone cleaning. I imagine that he had fallen over, having lost his balance like the others. What bad luck! Sofia has tripped over him. She is in pain on the ground.
“What’s the matter? Are you OK?” Erik and I call out to her, running towards her to help her to her feet.
Sofia is crying. She has hurt her hand which is bleeding. Her face is bruised. She looks at us all and then looks backwards, as the first light of dawn appears. She shouts at us, with a mixture of hysteria and fear:
“Go ahead on your own. I can’t”
Writer: Glen Lapson © 2016
English translator: Rose Cartledge
Publisher: Fundacion ECUUP
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