Passing but not moving – just passing in my mind, patiently going with laughs and sighs and I wish I could join them…”
by christine tothill
Huddling in a doorway, I watch the black horses, shining with sweat; pass me almost silently, their hooves stepping on the sand covering the ground. The streets, so full of people by day – eating, drinking, lingering – whispering, laughing, weeping.
I can’t find him.
We parted quickly, moving away from each other to safety. He was there, the other side of the trotting horses, fresh from the ‘jocs’ – the horses panting loud, making the sounds unreal in the imprisoned ‘calles’.
He was there. Within the walls. The ‘calles’ and the ‘jocs’. A walled city. He can’t go far. Can he?
People pass – glancing at me, enquiring with their eyes. Tipping their gin and lemon down their throats – the men laughing too loud, the women giggling and holding onto their men, glancing at me again. Moving from side to side past others just as drunk, the ripple of human flesh and the noise of noise.
I can’t find him. He is there somewhere looking for me, must be, we were parted, he must be looking for me. Or is he? Lips are dry; gin has left me wanting more but not to share with people – no. Not that. I want his. His gin and my lemonade.
Girls pass with purple skimpy tops, short shorts, holding on to each other, kissing, cuddling all in a line waiting to go through the mass of people jammed at the end of the ‘calle’. Passing but not moving – just passing in my mind, patiently going with laughs and sighs and I wish I could join them.
Where is he? The cathedral clock belts out twelve groans to a not-listening public – all too focused on their fiesta. Gin and horses. Horses and gin. Me and Him. Him with dark shirt, black hair, tight jeans. Him with an accent to die for. Him for me. Only me. Me with my white chinos, black shirt – shaved head.
Youths are clutching large splinters of wood, holding them over their heads, desperate to keep them, to ward off thieves. Won at the ‘Jocs’. Broken shields, fought over, under bodies, grabbing, winning. Their prizes until next year. Proud. They sing songs I don’t know, in their language, jostling along – being followed yet again by horses, trotting almost silently. The riders’ tired now, but happy to keep the night going. They all look familiar, like him. Like Him.
The cavalcade of horses and their riders, go in and out of the little roads, ducking into houses, watered, ginned. People laughing, eating, weeping. Happy with the fiesta. I watch it, hypnotised. Ginised.
I know where he is. With his horse. I won him in the ‘jocs’ waiting for them to start, with the band playing the crowd dancing. He pulled me up off the ground and onto his saddle – with him – only for a moment and then put me down again, on the ground in the sand, in the dirt – the horse gone and him with it. My chinos dirtied.
My legs hurting, my head swimming, my mind lost. I should have known, with all that choice. He wouldn’t come back for me. If only I had… If only. Didn’t though. Too late. He is gone. My fantasy gone.
(illustration: adam kluger)
Christine Tothill lives in Hampshire, England and writes short fiction. Her stories have been published in QWF, Scribble, Bright Light Cafe, Clover Books, Diddledog, Quiction and more. She is working on her novel and also plays the organ, if there is time left over. Many more of Christine’s stories can be found in the Vault of Smoke.