Along a rugged landscape, sand sweeps down the path in the wake of my step. The air is thick and gusts of wind break out every now and then, wrapping up the sky and the ground in burning blankets of heat. All around, shrubs and fences wave in the wind. I would catch their movements from the corner of my eye, young spirits roaming around, disappearing at every turn of the head.
Down the road, a few houses shimmer in the heat. A woman sits still on her front step and rests her head against the door frame. My growing presence doesn’t seem to bother her, but she stands up as I come closer, leaving the door open behind as she disappears inside.
I follow her into the house. Inside the main room, tables of various sizes are set haphazardly in its different corners. Everywhere, clay objects and ornaments lay around in similar fashion, pots on top of stools, book shelves and dressers leaning against blue walls where paint had faded with time. The floor is made of dirt, though years of walking made the ground stronger and gleam like cold marble.
I notice other people around resting in the shadows, their skin matching the color of the walls in the low light. The woman lies at the end of the room between two corner walls, facing the entrance where I stood. She doesn’t seem surprised to see me, and closes her eyes once and slowly, acknowledging my presence. The sun fades behind a cloud of dust, lifting silhouettes against the otherwise dull background of the room.
As I sit down on the floor, a boy approaches me with a curious but defiant manner. He is only a few years old and already shows a certain level of confidence. Not the kind of confidence that results from egotism or imitation. Genuine confidence. He knows he is home and it shows in his strut. Yet, he keeps a glint of worry in his eyes, like a tear shining deep down in their darkest corner. I stay put and observe him for a while.
I watch him run from one person to another, always in the spotlight, as if fearing to be left alone with the others, unseen in the shadows. He keeps his bright stare on me the whole time, reminding me of my odd presence in the only way the stare of a child could do. I had already witnessed this kind of behavior, or so I thought. More strangely, I felt I had already met the boy. I wasn’t quite sure how or where, but I recognized the way he acted, his movements, his expressions, I understood them.
All of the sudden, he steps towards me and sticks his forehead against mine, gazing at me fixedly, never allowing his eyes to drop. I’m unable to move.
He backs off after a few long seconds and smiles at me for the first time. My heart drops.
The wind outside brushes sand through the front door and bends the light in our direction, giving a religious feel to the room. Now through his eyes I could see a youth I’d forgotten, buried in the long shadows of time.
There I was, I thought, looking at the boy so dramatically tied to this strange place - and watching him now felt like watching my own dream from a distance. He had seemed so familiar, but the whole time I had only been watching myself.
There I was. Not quite a stranger, almost someone I always knew.
A white cloth had been hung over the entrance, cut as to slightly lie over the door frame. I feel a certain urgency on that side of the room. The occupants now seem agitated and turn their heads in that same direction. My eyes catch sight of the hanging cloth where shapes had appeared in its center.
The shapes seem to come from underneath the cloth, as if ink had dripped down from the wall and the cloth slowly sucked it up, the stain growing bigger by the second. Features of a human face began to appear.
The face had soft features and skin the same color as the wind, a pale shade of orange from the burning sand. The type of face I used to see in cartoons, I thought.
From that moment on, all went very fast. With the faint growl of cardboard being ripped, his head escapes the cloth with the rest of his body. Standing there in the middle of us, the figure reminds me of a hunter in the way he stands, crouching slightly forward, eyes scrutinizing the room.
I feel the urge to close my own eyes. Still, I could see his form printed on my eyelids, and for a while started to feel his presence from deep from inside my head. Suddenly, my surroundings disappear, and the rest of my body follows.
And just like that I feel a wave of magic like a distant memory,
pulling back the fleeing colors of a rushing dusk.
And music plays like shivers ripping across my skin,
and by then I knew these colors would forever be with me.
I see myself lying in a field of grey soil and yellow weeds, at the foot of a sharp and sprawling city.
The hunter grows over me and pulls the trigger into my side. Death is slow, the blood trickles abundantly through my hand. It must be painful, I thought.
On my back, I see the sky dimmed to the point where I doubt even being outside, though a few bright sparkles hang about in mid-air. He stands by my side, always on the left side, though I feel he is a friend now and accompanies me throughout my sentence. I close my eyes and feel the earth grabbing me.
I start counting time and then realize I’m a few years too early. This is not my moment, I tell him, and as surprised as he is, I feel he understands my desire to live and releases me.
The pale breath of the city brings down the clouds onto our fallen haunt. The raindrops, bouncing off black marble streets and over wall and fence, now seem to stay put, blurring his face in the rising mist.
After a while, a few lights dance between surrounding building tops, painting the space for a second, golden banderoles sinking down the walls of my dear new hometown as my eyes tear up from the pain.