03 May 2008. 7:33am.
We walk along the Rambla Nova, edging our way through the dense crowd. The sun burns a bright blue, hot and oppressive in the white sky. She walks in front of me, constantly looking back at me with those entrancing, sparkling eyes and smiling.
Finally the crowd seems to thin a bit and I work my way up alongside her again. She says something I can't make out and suddenly grabs my hand. I'm surprised by this development, but I'm certainly not going to complain.
Her hand is cold, fingers thin and chilly like icicles piercing through my sweaty palm like shafts of light.
I hear the distant sound of a double bass being plucked, accompanied by syncopated claps and toe taps. She and I walk towards the sound as a saxophone begins to moan a forlorn melody, all full of dread and ominous portent. The tune seems familiar, drifting on the edges of my consciousness as we weave closer, ever closer.
As we walk, I look down and see the flattened corpse of a dead swallow. Its beak is ajar as if in protest of its current state, ready and eager to chirp again but unable to overcome that great divider. It's rather pathetic, seeing the little feather-coated body plastered to the ground, destined to remain there until the street cleaner sweeps him away and he's off to his final resting place of heaven-only-knows-where.
We reach the place where the downer jazz is coming from, and there's nothing there - just the music, but no speakers, no band, nothing. La Rambla seems to be emptying at an alarming rate, people disappearing as soon as I turn my head. I look down at Carolina, and our eyes meet, locked in a blue/green tug-of-war.
I finally open my mouth. "I don't understand. Where is the melody coming from?"
She stares at me. "What melody?"
I make a harrumph and continue, "That melody! It's all around us, it's enveloping, invading every inch of my being, and you can't hear it? What's going on? Are you messing around with me?"
She strokes me cheek with her hand, frozen tendrils cutting across my face and burning deep into my flesh. "Why do you ask so many questions? Are you that afraid of the unknown?" She wraps her arms around my shoulders, light, twiggish, and she smiles. "Don't worry about it. Kiss me."
She steps up on her tiptoes and our lips meet. She tastes like apples, bleach, confusion. I try to pull away, but she tightens her grip around my neck and lifts herself closer. The world spins around us; I'm dizzy and disoriented, drunk off the incomprehensible taste of her lips.
I finally pry her arms apart, my hands seared by her icy limbs. I push her away, and she suddenly disappears. I flip around, lost in a haze of misunderstanding. The Rambla is completely empty, and the only sound I can hear is the breeze through the trees, a deafening howl of nothingness.
The bird speaks.
He sounds like Robert De Niro, and is inexplicably speaking to me in English. He says, "Who are you? What will you become? What do you want to be?"
I'm surrounded by a group of hooded figures, faces I almost recognize, who pick up the bird's refrain as they gyrate around me. "Who are you? What will you become? What do you want to be?"
The vertigo makes me sick to my stomach as I stagger to my knees. They spin, faster and faster, becoming a solid mass of impenetrable bleakness.
Their chorus continues as I pull myself back to my feet. The bird leads them through their chant as I wipe my lips, their voices rising in pitch and volume to a shriek.
I scream at the top of my lungs, "I DON'T KNOW!" Their shriek becomes laughter, cacophonous, haunting, and I've had about enough of this. I shuffle to the bird, pull back my leg, and kick.
I snap up in bed, startled. The faint light filtering through the blinds tells me it's morning.