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Alcazar QZR

Stained glass

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The morning sky had this yellow hue. It was crisp and gentle. The birds… Is it snowing uphill, though? Martín skis. Skis everywhere. He skis all day, even when he isn’t skiing. That’s what he does. It’s what makes him feel good. Under control. All his world is under control. But there she comes, Shivers, with her heavy-duty boots and her tidy, sinister outfit. It’s not even the black clothes of the… How are those people called? Just looking at her makes him want that school would backpedal with casual Friday. But no, who would miss those shoes and the ties nobody knows how to tie? That is, who besides Shivers. They entered the school.

The morning sky had some pink clouds on the other side of the window glass. The teacher was speaking about glass. Tinted pieces of glass. Who knows what would that have to do with history. Now there was a debate going on and Martín would just nod and jot down the random words he managed to pick up. It was while he wasn’t staring through the window that it started to snow.

“But isn’t there, like, a totally transparent glass, though?” “Nuh-huh” “There is! But it’s easier to see things part by part, little by little, that’s why science…” “Is there anything worse than an, what’s, how do you say it… an opaque piece of glass?” “But why do people keep…” “Well, I don’t, for one.” “So there is something worse than a blind man – person! - And that's who doesn’t want to see.”

They all nod. What? Who? The lesson was over. Good. Only a couple more hours to go. The slopes are calling him. So is silence.

The morning sky had this yellow hue. It was crisp and gentle. The birds were quiet. Is it snowing--? The music was barely audible, an auditory glimpse. Martín stopped to listen. Anyone that would spot him would think he was studying the tiled pavement or his particularly expensive sneakers. After a while of listening, a couple of clean, battle-worn boots shows up. He looked up. His classmate’s eyes were quite round and wide open. She was frowning like a BMW E28 Series 5. She stank of clove cigarettes and the revolting “Arsenic” by Tokyo Milk Parfumarie Curiosite, which smelt vaguely of absinthe.

It is… it is The String Quartet! Was she pretending to be afraid and fascinated or was she deluded by her own theatrics? Ugh, there it was. That shaking that earned her nickname. Her name was María… María something.

“Aha. Would you look at that. Didn’t know there was a string quartet in our music workshop. They sound good.” The sound was quite strange to him; some sort of Eurasian foreign folk music, a bit like the Tetris theme, but sadder. The music sounded like false joy. Like someone trying too hard to cheer up in a funeral. “Thanks for implanting deathly analogies, Shivers,” he thought.

“No. That workshop does not exist,” replied the girl, who seemed not feeling like blinking. Her tone of voice had the colour and warmth of an iceberg.

“Oh, alright then, I’ll go check it out. Bye, have a nice one,” Martín managed to flee from his classmate and entered the building. Raúl the groundskeeper was watching the news on his laptop and he said, yes, there was a music club of sorts that rehearsed every Friday after class. Poor Raúl. He was half asleep already and spoke as if his mouth was stuffed with candy.
Martin got in without knocking because they were taking a break. The music classroom was quite well-equipped, but the piano was out of tune and there were a couple of instruments nobody knew how to play. The windows, made out of recycled bottles, filtered the light amber and it was already getting dark outside.

“Öh, we were about to leave,” said a lanky blond guy with a thick accent. Exchange students, for sure. The four of them were wearing uniform, but that from their own schools, by the look of it.

“Nah, it’s good. Stay a while longer. Where are you guys from?” The quartet exchanges glances. The girl with the sky blue uniform and braces smiles at him like a steel-mawed goblin. “We are from—Better if we play again to give you a hint!” And she smiled again, all sweet and awkward.

The music was like suddenly recalling this morning’s dream, except that it is a dream no longer. It’s your reality now. And you may have never dreamt it. And you may have not woken up just yet. And it’ll be awful if you had to wake up right now. And it is night again. You dozed off in the music classroom, and the streetlamps behind the bottles seem to be spitting the dark sunrays of a dying star. And you’d like to call home but your mobile’s run out of juice again. The green EXIT words lead you outside. The school gates are open and you get out. They shouldn’t be open. It’s freezing outside. You’ve left your jacket on the chair, but the lock goes “click” and there’s no way back. The city is quiet, and it watches you like only nightmares watch you. You may have not woken up just yet. And it’d be awful not to wake up.

The morning sky had this hue, similar to the filter Martín applies to the snapshots he takes with his mobile. There’s something, maybe out there in the clouds, that plays with the shadows of things. He discovered that several tiles were loose on his way to school, which was closed. He noticed two other things: he had left his phone at home and the school sorely needed a coat of paint. Depressing. He laughed a bit, just not to get upset and passed a drugstore by – Closed. The digital clock told him it was five in the morning. Of course. When he got home, the foreigners were waiting for him at his front yard, in uniform. The fence was no longer there. Nobody was smiling. Nobody seemed to smile in this place, and there was a smell… something sickeningly sweet.

Martín felt how the hairs at the nape of his neck slowly stood on end. He instinctively looked up to the mountains. They were black.


***

“I’m sorry, dear, we have no children, are you sure this is the right Moreno St?” the man dressed in pastels replied. Shivers had the feeling of doing the right thing. And of making a fool of herself. It was awkward.
“If you see him, tell him that María… remembers.” The gentleman attempted a smile and was about to ask her something, but he realised he’d much rather she left so that he could go on mowing the grass. The girl left.

In the afternoon she tried to sketch his face. A face she’d never seen before. She went for a walk. Spring was near and some cherry trees had already bloomed. There was no child in the playground and the swings had new coat of paint. She lighted a cigarette and sat on one.

The playground was brimming with children. There were swings here too. It always felt odd listening to children speak in a language with so many consonants. His granddaughter, dressed in sky blue, asked him again to describe the snow for her. He does, with his thick, slow accent. As he told her how the cold would make his face go numb as he went down the slopes at full speed, once again, after so many years, a smell of burned paper, awful and sweet, crept into his lungs.
He looked up to the mountains. They were black.


At the other side, María shuddered.

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Updated 06-27-2019 at 09:09 PM by Alcazar QZR

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Comments

  1. DarkisnotEvil's Avatar
    Nicely written. The tone shifts and formatting to match fit the story perfectly.