It's a big blue, Spanish sky...
Even with my family, my own flesh and bones, my blood, I was stopping by for just a few hours, a few bits of time in my busy life, and then I was driving away. Did I want to run away before they could stretch their nets of chains and ropes to capture me again? I didn't want the claws of resentment to grab the insides of my soul, tear the tender tissue again, open the old wounds and make me hate them. Hate my blood. Pull the cord, and as you struggle to escape, it just tightens more around you, strapping you down.
I was one month in the New World, one month in the Old World. And I enjoyed this endless merry-go-round. I enjoyed getting tired, close to exhaustion. I liked how they were close, then far away and further away, then closer, and closer, few feet in front of me, then the distance grew back.
I was the addict finally freed of the cravings. Our addictions – our lives, our feelings, those claws clinging onto our souls. But I wasn't looking for that sort of happiness. I wanted out of my addiction for suffering. I wanted challenges, something for my creativity. Not to be silenced by pain.
“Does it mean that you never...?” Till's speech stumbled. “That we, will never...?”
I hesitated. I didn't know exactly what I felt about all that.
“I'm not making any promises,” I finally replied, after a long, long pause.
Till didn't laugh as if he'd heard a good joke, his usual reaction to words that irritated him. He smiled faintly.
“I'll miss you.”
I know the words, but I sing them wrong...
I wondered if he was only joking. What if he really did miss me?
“So, why did you want to meet me here?” Christoph asked.
I lit another cig.
I looked at the postcard, thinking that... Of course it was the last one I’d sent him. Or was it? It did name a day, so I could have sent it... Damn! I couldn't remember when I sent it. No, I meant, to whom did I give it to send, where was it sent from?
The stamp was Spanish. That I could see. And it was addressed to his home, in Germany.
“Why did you keep them?” I asked.
“I don't know really. Maybe I was intrigued. Why did you send them?”
I thought for my answer. I turned the words on all their sides, weighing them.
“Because I thought it would be fun.”
“Why me, then?”
I looked out the window too.
“Why not you?” I whispered.
It's a slow, sad Spanish song...
I kept looking at the narrow street. There had been some sort of impromptu market, people selling souvenirs, books, and whatnot. But now it was finished and they were packing their things to leave.
“I was hoping for a special reason,” I heard him in the background.
I wondered whether to turn my head to face him.
“What special reason?” I asked, continuing to look outside. “Why?”
Christoph sighed. Then, silence. One minute, two minutes... Short circuit. Hotel room, blinds covering two thirds of the windows, barely allowing yellow light to pour into the darkness like hot honey. Glimpses, glittering sweaty skin. Slow movements of the flesh, a serpent coiling around its unsuspecting pray.
I turned my head and watched him take another sip from his bottle.
“I've always been living with this impression,” he started, putting the bottle back on the table. “All these years...”
Another gulp from my coffee.
“That you have some feelings for me,” he answered shortly and then he bit his lips nervously.
Saw that gap again today...
“Did Till tell you something?”
Christoph laughed shortly.
I pushed the coffee cup further on the table. I wanted to leave that place. I wanted to leave him there. I wanted to get on a plane and fly back home. I had so much to do, I had so, so much to do.
I looked out the window again. The merchants were all almost gone. There was hardly anyone walking on the street. As if it was getting dark already and everyone was rushing to their homes and families.
“Till didn't tell me anything. But when you showed up here, now, I put two and two together. Actually I was hoping it would be you, in a way.”
The whisper left my lips, but I still didn't look at him.
“You know why,” he sighed.
“I want to hear you say it.”
But he didn't say it. When I looked at him, he was contemplating the world outside too, with his face turned a bit to his right, giving me the chance again to admire his profile, the peaceful appearance he had.
I didn't urge him to answer me. I just kept looking at him, in silence. I let my glance caress his facial features, each detail; his eyelashes, the shadow of his curl resting on his temple, the way he held his fingers flexed, each wrinkle of his shirt, the white contour of the neck of the t-shirt he wore under it.
“We should get going,” I said when he finally looked again at me.
“I'm risking a lot,” he whispered fixing me with his gaze.
“I know,” I replied. “That's why I think it would be better if we go now, each to our own homes.”
“But you don't understand. I hoped it would be you, that's why I came here.”
I signaled the waiter to bring the check.
I looked at Christoph's eyes. He knew that I understood very well. Then?
We stared at each other, while the waiter brought the check. Christoph paid and then the other guy left.
“Maybe some other time,” I said to him, knowing that probably there wouldn’t be any other time, that this was my only chance.
Why was he suddenly so interested in me?
“Are you sure?”
“Don't ask me this,” I laughed. “I might change my mind.”
He laughed. I stood up. He stood up too and picked up his coat from the back of his seat. I walked toward the exit and he followed.
“I need to get some money, to buy my ticket,“ I started as we were walking to the door.
“What do you mean?”
“I don't have much money on me, I don't...”
“Wait!” I said and turned. “You forgot...”
I walked back to the table. There it was, shining white, with that blue ink writing on it. The postcard. We couldn't...
What image was it baring? What glimpse of what town or country was lying there, still, frozen for eternity?
I turned it slowly.
Black and white. Not an aerial view. Something very familiar. Not a monument. Interior, with large windows, night lamp on the window sill, white table cloth, two empty glasses, one empty coffee cup on a small plate, a beer bottle. He was resting his elbows on the white surface of the table, he was looking outside the window, to the street where the flea market was taking place. On the bright background of the light – the carved contour of his profile. I wanted him never to move, so that I could bring out, from time to time, this moment frozen in time, and tend my wounds with the peacefulness that it brought me.
I lay on my back, watching the clouds float by....