1894, The woman in blonde
Time went by like the fleeting tide. One day you were teaching a kid how to read and the next day you found the first wrinkles on your face and a sixteen-year-old young man passing by right out of the door.
His scent remained as the only evidence of his being. He left his room after all these years empty as on the first day and preferred to sleep on the old mattress we brought from his own place.
The scars inside him must have caused this willingness and never ending thirst for isolation against anything that seemed in any way conservative.
I went to the window and looked out to watch him cross the cobbled street.
A carriage nearly missed him and my heart set out a beat, but the young man took it with a smile and winked at the furious driver.
Julio took much pleasure in provoking his environment and poke until the drama unrolled.
There is no neighbor in the area which I had not to face in an argument because of him. Most of the time, because of a girl.
And let me tell you so much, Buenos Aires had a lot of beautiful young women, and he seemed to digest them all.
I tried out to identify his type, but they were all so different. Some small, some tall, some blonde, some brown, some white and some darker, but they all had a few peculiar things in common. Their lips were small and soft, their body like from a grown-up woman, their hair long and vital and their eyes. Their eyes were always bright like the dawn. I remember vividly one particular girl that stood out of them all, Maria. She was untamable like a wild foal, her eyes were like fire and her skin brown like sand. Her long brown hair danced in the wind and her voice was innocent but yet, an inexplicable darkness was always inherent that made every last syllable sound rough and cold, almost distant.
One either hated or loved her, and Julio seemed to do both.
So it was of no great wonder that an hour later he and her found a place at my table.
I recall, we were sharing bread and wine as she turned her petite head towards me and gazed at me in an unpleasant manner.
»How can I enlighten you, Maria?«
»Nothing in particular. I am just wondering.«
She certainly won my attention.
»Wondering?«, I asked and hoped silence would return to our meal.
»Wondering.« She cocked her head so that her hair tenderly covered a part of her face and scrutinized me like an odd piece of art that insulted everyone who dared to cast a look upon it.
»Why haven’t you asked her out yet?«
She met me unprepared, and I looked helplessly to Julio who shock his head with a big smile and who, obviously, found a great pleasure in my interrogation.
»Who are you talking about?«
The young woman pouted her lips and crossed her arms.
»Now you are disappointing me. For what do you take me for? Hear me out as I speak clearly like the sun and unstoppable like the rocking ocean. So how come that you haven’t asked her out? The madame of your shop. A library, if I am not mistaken. She seemed to be very fond of you the last time I spoke to her at the market and judging by the mere reaction of yours, you are feeling the same sparkle firing up in you whenever here name is called. Gabriela ... right?«
»Well, that young lady certainly isn’t an appropriate topic to be discussed with adolescents.«
»Are you talking about sex?«
I spat the good wine out that only danced for a brief moment on my tongue. I hated and hate to waste good wine. I cleaned my mouth and gazed at the young woman. Did this words really found their origin in her sweet, little mouth, I wondered.
»Sex. It’s just flesh, so why making a big deal about it?«
She looked at me as if she were asking me to pass her the salt while talking about the most private topic there could be.
Julio took a big sip out of his cup and smiled in an unholy delight.
»Are you mad to talk like this? A young lady like you shouldn’t be talking about this!« I tried my best to restrain myself and cleaned the table. The poor wine.
»A young lady?« She laughed in a childish but sympathetic manner. »My dear Silvio, I am neither young nor a lady. You see.« She got up and started to move in a dancing rhythm around the table like to an inaudible tune.
»Mankind is only driven by two things. Either ambition or sex. Men most of the time are slaves to both of them.«
She stopped at my place and her bright blue eyes stared into my soul like into an open book.
»You are a lot, but an ambitious man? No.«
She shook her pretty little head with a fake smile and moved to the window where the moon light met her face and turned her eyes into diamonds.
»There is nothing wrong with the lust for flesh, you know, Silvio? We are all sinners trained to put on our best false smiles and wander over the sand of this world until we become part of it ourselves.«
A melodramatic sadness wiped out all innocents off her face and left back a withered rose.
I tried to find the right words, but Julio indicated me with a shook of his face to remain in silence. Then he moved closer to me and started to whisper.
»You see, women are as fragile as they are beautiful. They are like paper on water. As soon as they soaked in all the load they sink and never arise again.«
And if driven by a possession, the young girl suddenly started to dance a Waltzer.
»Dance with me, Julio.«
Julio simply shook his head and gazed at me.
»Fancy a dance?«, he asked in a playful tone.
And a moment later I found myself being pulled up by the girl and forced into wild circles.
She had quite a power for such a gracious little thing, and the way her smile inspired me to not only dance but completely let loose was ecstatic and plainly mysterious to me.
What seemed like seconds or minutes, we spent in paying the rain outside our tribute by dancing. Drop by drop we found our rhythm and laughed until our lungs burned and then dared to laugh some more.
Julio in the meantime poured himself some more wine and left the room.
When he finally returned, Maria was gone, and I was reading a book.
I don’t remember anymore what book it was, too blurry the memories of these old bitter-sweet days, but I remember the look on his face like it was yesterday.
It was blank fear. The face you would find suitable for a prisoner of the eternal perdition but misplaced on a good-looking sixteen years young man.
»I want to show you something«, he simply replied in a cold tone and left.
Unsure by his manners but driven by curiosity, I got up and followed him into his bedroom. Already on my way to the room, I noticed a sweet exotic scent and my inquisitiveness grew.
The window was closed and the curtain shut. Only a few candles spent light and with it presented the view on a canvas next to his mattress.
I doubt that words will ever do his work justice and I hardly believe that my simple mind will ever be able to grasp his creations in the degree they deserved it, but let me tell you so much. His work and with it every piece he ever led a brush over was the undeniable evidence of god’s presence on earth and his working in our lives, especially his.
With some simple paint, this young soul created the image of a woman like I never imagined, spreading a scent so familiar and yet so unique. An arrangement of bright yellow and brown colors playfully merging, twisting and disappearing into the darkness of the pitch black frame. I was baffled.
The boy at the while observed me with the fear and curiosity of a child or a man who simply dread a broken heart.
»I am not finish. Not yet. Are you fond of it?«
»This is ... divine. Yes, Indeed it is.«
»Divine?«, he quietly repeated and smiled. »I like that sound.«
»Who is she? Maria?«
Julio glanced over to the paint and stepped next to me.
»No. I don’t know her yet. I saw her in my dreams, but always from this angle.«
»Always like this?«
»So you never save her face?«
»What a pity she really seems to be something.«
»She might is.«, he silently agreed and turned to bed. »I am tired now. Wake me up tomorrow early. I have a job.«
»For the baroness?«
My words echoed through the darkness as Julio already blew out the candles and left me lost in my thoughts.
I nodded as a mere gesture and silently left the room. In this night I found no sleep as I was desperately trying to find out how she looked like. What a silly endeavor, but nonetheless it helped me make up my mind. I swore to myself to ask Gabriela out for dinner the next time I saw her. We spent years working side by side, and I didn’t want to spend decades wondering how she was like. Julio and I should unfortunately soon enough find out who the mysterious lady in blonde should be. I say these words heavy hearted, as she marked the end of our friendships, as of his life.
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