Airport Loop

The plane landed. I fetched my bags from the overhead compartment and followed the crowd as it slithered through the narrow aisles inside the plane, through the tarmac and onto the terminal. 

I followed the crowd up the conveyor belts, looking around for indications on how to find the exit. After walking for a while and failing to notice any signs informing me how to leave the terminal building, I kept walking for a couple of minutes until I found a man that appeared to be working for the airport’s security team. “Follow the crowd” he said when I asked where to find the nearest exit “A couple of halls down you must turn left. You’ll see it when you get there.” 

I walked past a bookstore, a food hall and a luggage shop. A bustling crowd of travelers passed by me heading to different unspecified somewheres. I reached what I concluded had to be the exit; a glass door with two dark semicircular motion sensors in the middle and a pair of electric staircases, their steps perpetually appearing and disappearing coming from and leading to a floor below. 

I stood right in the middle of the door. The crack between the two glass sheets barely open. Nothing happened. I waved up to the sensors perched above me and as I reached out with my hands to inspect the place where the door should have opened, I heard a female voice say, “this exit is closed”.

Her demeanor was rather brusque, so I stepped away without asking if there was an alternative exit door. As I walked away, I turned my head and saw her walk under the motion sensors and touch the glass panes with both hands. After a couple of seconds, the door opened, and I saw her disappear down the escalator. 

I stood there confused and mildly infuriated. I checked my watch and calculated I had spent close to an hour wandering about the terminal building without being able to find a way out onto the street. The signs on the walls were confusing; they showed the way to different gates, the A gates, the B gates, but there was none indicating where to find baggage claim or the nearest access to the street or the public transport network. 

At the start of this trip, I read up a bit about X. The city is built on a vast plain bordered by mountains. When the plane was landing, and the land grew nearer I peeked out of the window and saw the landscape come into sharper view. A vast tapestry of fields covered the ground occasionally traversed by a long road gently following the curve of the fields and reaching the mountains on both sides. The text I read was slightly outdated for it had been compiled more than a decade before. 

Despite its age, the guide was mostly accurate. Being a small city located in the middle of the country means that change, although always present is not a whirlpool that sweeps by with the same unrelenting force as it does in cities near the coast. Change comes about as a steady force that bit by bit tears down old brick houses and turns beauty salons into coffee shops and vice versa. 

Among the descriptions of X’s architecture, its parks, government buildings and commercial real estate, the text discussing X’s airport was considerably longer. 

The main terminal building is a donut. It was designed by a famous architect whose name I can’t recall. The construction took seven years and was met with a couple of delays. Early on it had to be halted because the ground did not meet the assumptions used when the building was designed. The old lakebed was mushier than expected.  The construction was also thrown off schedule when an Indian tribe occupied the site in protest for what they claimed was the desecration of one of their ancient sites of worship. They showed up one day machetes and rifles in hand. The large cranes stopped, and the bulldozers froze, still holding the soft humid soil they had excavated earlier that day. Federal and local forces were called in to deal with this incident. After several rounds of negotiations, aided by the continual swelling of the national guardsmen contingent, a substantial land deal was arranged, and the protestors swiftly evacuated the site. The construction continued without any further delays. The only noteworthy event was a small accident where a worker was knocked down by a crane but miraculously survived the fall. 

As I drifted away, I noticed everyone seemed uncharacteristically hurried, strolling briskly through the terminal building going somewhere. I spotted a young woman pulling a blue bag. I tried making eye contact as she approached where I stood. Her eyes fixed forward did not blink or change course as she walked past me. I thought of asking her if she knew where the closest exit was, but I couldn’t bring myself to. 

When the sound of her steps faded, I headed to the nearest restroom. When I reached the stall, I closed the door behind me and sat there considering my options while the water below reflected my butt. 

Behind me the wall was covered by a mosaic of large and small squares forming an irregular tapestry pattern. If the terminal building lacked an exit door, as I was starting to believe, I would have to figure a reasonable strategy to survive within the confines of the airport. I could for example, roam around during the day, fetch foodstuffs from the food court and entertain myself reading books and magazines from the bookshop located on the aisle connecting the A and B gates. 

I would have to sleep somewhere and with the objective of finding a spot, my butt still dangling on top of the still water I figured I should find somewhere hidden enough I wouldn’t be disturbed. I put my pants on and with my hands tapped the wall behind me. The sound came back with a cavernous ring that seemed to indicate there was a hollow spot behind. I thought of kicking the wall or thrusting myself at it in the hope it would yield and reveal a space where I could curl up at night. I would crawl in, find a spot among the sweaty pipes and block the entrance with four large square tiles placed in a circular array surrounding a small black square.  

A bout of diarrhea started to form in my bowels. I sat again. The water under me reverberated as the rotten contents of my interior poured over it. The flushing mechanism made a loud noise as it let go a vigorous swirl of liquid down the drain.

When the sound quieted, I sat there, my mind blank and listening to the rumors of water flowing and hurried steps on the bathroom floor. 

I could escape, I thought, hoping surreptitiously on a flight to somewhere. I imagined the scene for a moment. Me walking past the check-in desk, through the tarmac and into the plane. We would take off and through the window I would see the shape of the terminal building shrink, and the large plain appear, with its long roads and the distant shape of snowy peaks shining in the distance under a bright sun. 

It was not to be. Someone knocked and took me out of my stupor. “Are you done?” he yelled. I opened the door and left. The man and I exchanged glances for a second. He walked into the bathroom stall and closed the door behind. 

I left the restroom and walked up the aisle for a few minutes. I had passed by the same luggage shop a couple of times before. This time when I turned my head around, I saw it. A few doors down a bright red sign blinked with the word “exit”.

Behind the glass door an electric staircase circled infinitely up and down. When I stepped under the motion sensor the doors opened and I left.

To the front

Mirror. Green uniform on pale skin and clean shaved face staring into itself. The faucet coughs and whistles to the sound of water circling down. Feet clap impatiently on the tiled floor. A high pitch voice shouts a name following the screech of wheels of a vehicle coming to a halt. 

Steps fall down a staircase. There is a hug and kind words followed by young men’s voices mixed with the rumbling of an engine. White and gray, the city’s buildings, pedestrians and vehicles merge into a confuse mass sprinkled by occasional reds and greens. 

A beer splashes its foam on the wooden table and golden arrows of sun pierce the glass’ body painting yellow stripes on the foam stricken surface.  Merry voices and nervous laughter fill the hall. The low ceiling of the pub turns into the tall wide metal skeleton of the train station. A loud metallic whistle fills the air and a hurried murmur of boots pushes a crowd of green uniforms into the trains. 

The landscape rushes by in wide and oily brushstrokes. Melancholic greens and the red brick of small villages comes to a sudden stop in front of the sea. A fresh air blows from the south, filled with the sounds of water splashing and seagull cries. The boat rocks back and forth as its body cuts the gray waves. Young men murmur in low voices, looking overboard into the ocean.

It smells of green at the landing site. To the west pink lights burn in the horizon, to the east the camp’s lights break the incipient shadows at the edge of the field. 

The inside smells of bodily fluids, and the sheets are dripping with sweat. In the darkness, the occasional sprout of a snore, late night conversations or even furtive sobs break the monotonous hum of gunshots coming from the front.

Wet mud squelches under a barrage of boots. The walls of the trench are tall, and a foul stench of rotten food and dead bodies fills the air. Beyond lays the lunar landscape of the battlefield. A voice shouts an order, a machine gun spits a round of fire and a mass of uniforms, shaven faces, and bayonets thrusts itself forward through the barren field. 

He lays there, his back flat over the wet soil. Around him the battle rages. One or two of his comrades jump over his stretched arms before turning back, look at his waning gaze and continue their advance towards the other side. 

A big sharp pain spreads through his body from under his ribs. His arms are heavy and his gaze cloudy. He hears some voices speaking in a foreign tongue grow loud, linger for a second over his head and then turn faint before a gunshot startles him one last time. 

Morning time

“Giant wave rushes down” I heard the two old men chatting at the table to my right. They talk as their coffee cups become emptier. It is a cold foggy morning and white light pours over all of us from a partly shaded sun. It falls like a cold silver shower on the garden touching with careful fingers white chairs gathered around black tables, and purple blossoms hanging from bright stems among wide green leaves.

“It is a painful inflammatory condition” he adds. And the second man nods, sips his coffee with his eyes fixed on the visible cracks of the black table’s skin. There is a pause in their conversation. A shade passes through his forehead, he mumbles one thing then another and as if steering an airplane away from a knot of turbulent winds, he lands on a different topic “Portland is a great place”. 

In the tiny pause that ensues they look at their neighbor, me, this man crouched on top of a notebook writing furiously as if assaulting the white page. Unaware their words are metamorphosing into ink the second man replies “That’s where my sister in law lives” before resuming their conversation.

A tiny girl with big round blue eyes shining like turquoise marbles on her forehead looks at me with the curiosity of those for whom the world is new. There is a group of Indian folks to my left, filling the air with foreign syllables and in front two university students read their notebooks, look at their laptops and scroll down their phones all at the same time. 

The sun’s white round circle burns warmer as people pour into the garden. Suddenly the murmur of conversation fills the place, enveloping all with the sounds of a world suddenly filled with lives other than my own.

Silence has fallen on the table to my right. A clatter of china, and a screeching of metal on cement makes me turn my head. They walk away with short careful steps and disappear through the black revolving door, their words growing fainter until they are no more.

Train ride

We stand there in front of the dark window of the first wagon of the train. Ahead of us and preceded by the noise of wheels scratching over metal the darkness splinters into blue shadows leaving us with a swift sight of the train tracks.

Our reflections are there, looking back at us from the black window. She looks at herself, combing with her blue eyes the contour of her dark hair searching for a hidden meaning behind this composition of light and shadows. Her gaze is fixed on her own figure, the curve of her body bends gently finding refuge on my chest. A pensive frown rests on her brow. The lines of her face have been reduced to simple strokes of color, softened by the brush of light that has painted her reflection.

I wonder what does she think. I look at that skin that is again soft and spotless and catch the sparkles of a defiant gaze, lost in the admiration of the smooth contours of her own reflection. And as I pull her closer to my chest I see her eyes crawling through the mirror and landing on my own.

Kiss, step, step, kiss. A voice pours down over us from the wagon’s loudspeakers. The train jolts back and forth before finally stopping at the station and a stream of light washes our two figures away.

The fall

They keep talking. Ok. They talk and talk, and I listen here from the adjacent table while I drink my beer. One, two, three, their words fall from their mouths to the pavement and break. I see the trace of ink leaving a bloody pool on the floor. Ok. I keep quiet for a moment, while I feel the bubbly alcoholic liquid become foam in my mouth. Alright.

They brought the bill. I see two coins resting on the table as I stand up. A pair of lonely rays of sun dance over the tabletop tying and untying a knot of light with their sinuous movements.

The sun rests above all, and its rays pierce the water’s skin. It is a lazy day and I walk down the road and in front of the river. Ok. I think. I lift my head and feel the flame of light burn my cheeks.

There is a placid minimal wind running eastwards following the course of the water. It plays with the river waves, curls of hair, sweet leaves of grass and unsuspecting hats in its race towards the sea.

If I close my eyes I can hear it. Yes, it is there. The sound of air carving a hollow circular cave in my ears. It is there, sunny and gray and cold, and full of ghastly winter chills and delicious summery warmth. I sit still on that bench. A few curious fingers of the ivy hanging from the wall behind me, touch the back of the seat. The water flows in front of me, relentless and quiet and the city and its gears are behind me, humming with the infinite complexities of human life.

I’ve found it. Ok. I think and smile. Something stirs inside my chest with the soft boiling caress of a sweet melancholy. It surrounds me, that big everything that fills the void with the noise of cars, the howling of ambulances and the hurried walking of pedestrians as they sprinkle the air with the clap clap of their steps. It is then that the sound of everything becomes the sound of nothingness, and the immensity of this big screaming world comes crashing down on my head.

A sweet green fragrance of grass and smoke in my nostrils. A headache and a feeling of fullness. My ankle hurts. Yes. It is ok and I keep walking. The horn shouts and I stop there, as I wait for the light to turn green.


Movie premiere

She took the lipstick out of its case and let it roll from one side of her mouth to the other and back. Her reflection winked back at her and the sound of water running down the faucet quieted down to a drip. The bloody rose of her lips shrunk into a small button before blooming with an audible kiss.

Before leaving her place, she stroke the strings of her ukulele and looked up to the Marilyn Monroe poster on the wall. The instrument left a sad trail of sound that lingered around her for a few seconds before it vanished.

The doors of the wagon opened and closed and the metro rode through the landscape as it filled with the dimming golden rays of the sunset. Small houses scattered around tiny roads carved over the hills gave way to the carcasses of an abandoned industrial complex, itself swallowed by the passing sight of the brown waters of the river and the city center high rises.

Her long legs walked with a studied curvaceous step up the staircase. The cinema was quiet. Outside, the beginning of the night smelled blue and smoky. “Hi”, her colleague said and they smiled at each other.

She looked at herself on the mirror. The curve of her lips tilted down, tilted up, opened in a circle, imitated the shape of a waning moon and closed with a kiss, a frown and a soft smile.

She felt the gaze of her colleague looking at her. They smiled at each other and took their brooms out of the toilet.

People were gathering outside. The flashes of the paparazzi’s cameras burst on the esplanade mixing with the sounds of a crowd roaring behind as one by one, different men and women walked up a red cloth that stretched over the floor.

As she looked up, a flash lit up, and another one behind, and another one. She rose up and felt the blow of a beam of light on her face.  Someone called her name, and she turned around with a wide smile, and her eyes went through the crowd, the smiley crowd, and the faces of producers and movie directors that wandered through the carpet and up the stairs. For a moment she felt as if she was seeing herself from the undistinguished faces of the audience, and she saw her tall figure, and her red smile shinning, and her eyes searching for those wandering figures as they entered the cinema.

She heard her name called again and with a passing glance looked down to the floor. The dustpan had fallen from her hands. She crouched to collect it. She hurried back into the theatre and dropped the small paper pieces she had gathered into the toilet.

After un día lluvioso

There is rain on the road. Las llantas del auto dejan unas zanjas largas y profundas sobre la tierra húmeda al pasar. The air is clean, sweet and empty. Unas florecillas blancas descansan entre el pasto, brillando como perlas sobre terciopelo verde. A few clouds linger on top of us, gray and quiet, moving slowly through the space above us. El camino desemboca en la costa verdosa de un lago. I can see the dark silhouettes of fishermen casting their nets into the water. Sus barcazas de madera bailan oscuras sobre el agua como pedazos de hojarasca. The engine hums and behind me it leaves a trace of smoke.

Something missing

If I lay here on the high grass Carla can’t see me. I like this grass. It surrounds me and I can’t see her. She is there playing with the forks and spoons at the edge of the field and under that tree.  The sky shines cloudless and green and two long black birds circle, spiralling upwards and upwards directly on top of me.

I close my eyes. The sun hits my pupils and the world goes orange. It is warm and it smells of grass and dirt. There is barely any sound; the wind licks the back of my hands, and the exposed skin of my face.

I hear some steps and I think of Carla, but the sound of broken twigs passes behind my head and goes away.  I open my eyes and look at the birdless sky.  There are no clouds, no big black shadows, no noises, no wind, and there is only a constant patch of a greenish blue.

We biked from the city. We took a long and winding road that not many know about. It goes through a placid meadow filled with the sweet stems of spring grass before it passes through a forest, coiling under the shadow of big and muscular trees until it reaches the park.

The sky has a very slight green hue, green memory of the prehistoric sea dwelling under our feet. When they were digging the lake, the excavator would spit out piles of sand and sea shells. I can’t help but think that the nights of the past are still shinning under me. Silvery skeletons of stars are shining under the grass over water now long gone.

There is something missing, missing from this placid day, missing up there in the heights of a clear sky. I look up into the blue and look inside myself and I can’t find it. I can’t find it.

There is always something missing. I have never known what it is. Robert drinks, and I drink with him, and we keep drinking until the street lights are all yellow, and distant, and the buildings turn into hallucinating creatures of a thousand eyes and mouths and I can’t find it.

Carla whispers something to my ear. And the night surrounds us as we kiss and move and our naked bodies fuse into one, and then it comes, the horrid realization that not even an instant of oblivion, not even an instant of death can fill it. I can’t find it. I know it is there, there in the yellow lights, somewhere in the middle of a nameless orgasm, lost in the starry memories of that prehistoric sea. Maybe we should take all the sand and shells out from the womb of this park, maybe if we dig enough we will find the reflection of the night.

I don’t know why I think these things. Carla laughs when I talk about them and sometimes she looks at me with her big eyes and says nothing.  And then I say nothing and we keep quiet. It is a placid day and the grass is high around me. Carla is playing with the forks and spoons; I can hear their metallic clapping mixed with the sound of her laughter.

Flying kites

The door closes. The street is silent. Sundays are slow days. The cherry trees are blossoming. We walk and laugh. We walk and laugh again. Up that hill they are flying kites. “I want to get one” I whisper to  her ear. It is windy and I can see the carcases of my words go away. They are floating around us, threaded to our kissing mouths only by the silence that lingers between us. The hill is steep and the city shines beyond the park.



The trees cast a long shadow over the road. It is a tiny road that curves along the quiet facades of old houses and ancient walls, hops over the arch of a bridge and plunges into the yellow night and into the trees. The night is yellow, yellow as the gas lights that pour their jelly of gold, and tinge the intimacy of night with a dust of old.
We walked a few steps over the bridge and stopped as we reached the middle of its hunch. There was a swift kiss. One. Two. Our lips pressing tight against each other and the arch of our backs bending in an untied knot.
It all smells of old. The lazy arch of the river coils around the same turn that it has seen for centuries, and the faces of these walls wet their noses into the black water as they have always done.
There is something fiery about the noises that escape from the hidden corners of the night. The untamed past shouts from the pavement stones. The echoes of gone steps fill the empty space that stretches beyond the intimacy of our play. The past with its tentacles of foam and its vast shores of pebbles dwells out there. It is alive in the murmur of the trees. It lives in the yellow lights of the gas lamps. It whispers with the echo of a long gone cart, rolling slowly through the street, leaving behind it the clapping of a horse’s shoes. It is there, reverberating with the sound of cannon voices and the fading shouts of a commander to his battalion of iron suits. The past and its stories of love and death, flesh, bones, and dust, swirls around us as the taste of our mouths fuse.
What am I searching for when I kiss your lips? What are we searching for in the hidden shores of our skin? What are we looking for in this colliding, this implosion of our bodies if not only a tiny relief from the looming presence of death? It is in the past, deep in the night of the world and the big blanket that surrounds it all and stretches around us like a cocoon where we exist. Inside it there is only the two of us, our bodies, our kisses, and nothing else.
Over there the contours of light raging in a craze of colour invite us to unravel the ribbon of our kiss. The music pours from the tents and crosses the night in swift flight.
The purple liquid pours from a vast cup and a fountain of black lava flows down into a pond of chocolate. The lamps shine on top of us, and their yellow lights pulse in front of the black of a starry night.
When we look up, a few nightly flies hover around the lights’ golden nape and beyond them, the moon looks down upon us with its immovable and pallid gaze.