Winter 2008

Table of Contents - Vol. IV, No. 4


Poetry    Interview    Translations    Fiction    Book Reviews

Sanford Tweedie


Seville, Midafternoon

You awake, startled, and brush at your mouth. A fly, hovering above your lips, darts away. In this heat, where movement must be conserved, flies do not circle like those back home, but are quick to land on the lips and often move directly into the mouth. They go for the orifices, assuming death in the stillness.
Your arm is heavy. You try to lift yourself off the bench, sweat caught between skin and shirt. Finally you rouse yourself, shaking off sleep and the sun's weight. You sit up, squinting.
Your companion languishes next to you.
"There. See that?" She points to a cafe across the square. Another couple, older than you, sit at a table, drinking from small cups. The woman looks at a map while the man reads from a guide book.
"I could see us doing that when we're that age," your companion says. "Going around Europe, staying at pensions, eating in cafes."
You are puzzled. "Like we're doing now?"
"No, they're different. They know each other too well. They don't need to talk." She puts on her sunglasses.
Together, you cross the square to enter the cathedral. As you near the door, two women appear from the shadows. Heavy with age and hair pulled high off their necks, they wear brightly patterned dresses and carry white carnations. Your companion lifts her hand to say no to the flower being offered.
The second woman grabs the upheld hand, turns it palm up and squeezes your companion's wrist, not letting go. She stares at the crisscross of lines for a moment then begins to speak. Her voice is quick and cadenced. With her free hand, the woman points to different areas of the palm, tracing lines. Her tone flickers and she points, looking first at the hand and then through the sunglasses into your companion's eyes.
She stops and asks a question. Not knowing the language, neither of you offers a response. The woman continues. A couple of times she points at you, but never looks in your direction. You shift from foot to foot. Finally, the woman lets go of the hand. You trawl through your pocket, place some coins in the cracks of the woman's still outstretched palm.
Your companion's future foretold, you reach for her hand and move into the coolness of the church shadow, having no idea what is to befall the two of you. To the left of the cathedral door a man, clothes dirty, hair disheveled, lies against the chalkstone wall of the church. He is asleep on the hard ground. A fly lingers on his chapped lips.


© Sanford Tweedie



Poetry    Interview    Translations    Fiction    Book Reviews

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