Bree saw him standing near the Sagrada Familia metro station at Carrer de Mallorca. When the Blackberry buzzed thirty minutes ago, she was at the top of the sacred church memorializing the Excelsis and Hosanna inscriptions on the towers as vacation photos. Rafael said he would call her after he got off duty from behind the hotel desk - and he did. He said he would meet her at the metro station - and he did. Bree was not used to a man who followed through on his promises.
A knot formed in her stomach at the sight of Rafael’s gentle smile. He looked different in casual clothes and without his glasses - unsettled and unsure, as if taking off the uniform made him more vulnerable. Bree had come to expect his calm, confident demeanor every morning, his patience as the Rosetta Stone Spanish stumbled out of her mouth, his daily assurances that she would have a great time in each part of the city she explored. Without the glasses, Bree could see the discontent dwelling behind his eyes. It must have been what prompted him to see the States by riding cross-country on a Greyhound bus. Bree recognized her longing in Rafael’s eyes. It was the same feeling - the yearning for something more than ‘just enough’ - that compelled her to dust off her passport and fly to a place she had only seen in a Woody Allen movie.
Rafael gave her his helmet and Bree climbed on the back of his motorcycle. She wished she had worn a more practical dress, one she did not have to keep hiking up past her knees for fear of getting caught on some wayward piece of metal. They made their way through the streets of the city, whizzing past sights more familiar to her after nine days. He headed southeast toward Montjuïc, where she had visited on her second day. The guidebooks and tourist websites advised her to take the funicular to the top for the best views of the city, but from that vantage point, a familiar wave of isolation overcame her. She decided to experience the rest of the city hands on, absorb its energy through her pores.
Bree clung to Rafael tighter as they spiraled up to the top. He took her by the hand and pointed out the Olympic Village, Park Güell and La Sagrada Familia, all the places he knew she had visited. He nuzzled his nose against her neck, cheek and earlobe in a slow, winding pattern, touching all the soft places she had forgotten existed within her. She wanted to hold on to this moment longer than she knew it would last. It should have been enough for her to see his smile everyday, watch his fingers steady restless glasses on his face. But of course, Bree wanted more. She wanted to free him from the hotel desk he had chained himself behind, from the lives they both had settled for.
The Living Poetry Project and NEVERMORE
11 months ago