28 Jul 2018

“Grandmother, can I get you anything before I leave ? we won’t be long”

“Another glass of wine would be perfect my dear”

“You know you shouldn’t”

“There are many things in my life I shouldn’t have done but indulge an old woman and leave me to these treasures”

Siting in her armchair sipping her wine, her bones were tired but her second glass of Spanish Rioja warmed her body and she looked across and the book cases that adorned this room.

Her husband and herself had them built when they’d bought the house all those years ago and they had both a love of books and the quiet spaces between them as they sat here through their lives reading in silence together.

Their daughters had played on the mat where her feet rested now as toddlers and their children after them.

This had been the room where they’d held the reception after his passing and it was by the bookcase that she’d thanked everyone dutifully before slumping into her chair that night and sobbing until she slept at the sight of the empty chair across from her.

As she leaned to lower her glass onto the table beside her she noticed an old book on the ground below and struggled slowly to pick it up.

As she held it up towards the lamp light at the table she noticed the title was in Spanish “El Torero”.

Her eyes closed as she was transported back through the years to another lifetime and as she held the book to her mouth she smelt lavender and a smile broke wide across her face.

As she opened her eyes she was no longer sitting staring at the bookcases but looking out across a dark meadow on the out skirts of a small town to the south of San Sebastian.

The Spanish Civil war had ended as had World War 2 and her family had taken a much need holiday in the region at the end of the Summer.

She had turned 17 earlier in the Summer and the local Basque boys smiled and danced beside her calling to her as she walk ahead of her parents at the local markets that day.

She was learning Spanish and she could remember the classroom vividly now.

The teacher was friendly and patient and her classes ended each afternoon at 3 when the sun was hottest.

Upon leaving class one day she encountered a tall boy with piercing blue eyes at the entrance to the old school where she had her lessons.

Her Spanish poor she mumbled her apologies as they clumsily waited for the other to pass through the door way.

To her surprise “Please, ladies first” had been the response he had offered in addition to a dramatic hand welcoming her and a beautiful grin.

Instinctively she’d beamed and playfully curtsied before walking through the door way and respectfully thanking him.

“You’re most welcome, I’m Amarande, my father is your teacher I believe” he said.

“Oh, my name is Grace. He’s really nice”

“Sometimes” he said before smiling into her eyes once again. “Not many of the people here speak English very well but my father insisted I learn as a child”.

“I’m very glad he did, I only have my parents to talk too”

“Thanks not much fun, perhaps I can show you around later if you’re bored”

“I’d like that”

High in the mountains the evenings are cooler and like the others before during the holiday the afternoon had been very warm and when she met Amarande the feel of the air around her tanned skin and white summers dress felt cool and refreshed.

Her parents were still at the restaurant drinking with friends and having had a sneaky second glass of red wine she felt a little giddy when she reached Amarande at the school house and ignored his offered hands and instead hugged him.

“Whats that in your pocket ?” she asked, feeling her cheeks glow immediately as the words spilled from her lips realising what she had said.

“Oh, Ive brought you a book. Its in Spanish and I thought it might be fun for you to read. My mother gave it to me when I was a child” he said.

As she held the book and struggled he held her hands and translated the title for her “The Matador”.

“Its about a bullfighter and his love of the bulls that he must kill in the ring. Have you been to the bullring ?”

“No, the blood, its not something I want to see” she said.

As they walked beneath the blood red moon high above the mountains in the cool air of the evenings he spoke to her about the bullring and the passion between the bullfighter, the dance, the crowd and the bulls.

She looked at the passion pour from his eyes, his lips and he arm movements and body as he recounted the movements of the Matadors around the ring, playing to the crowd and the bulls that could end their lives so brutally if a mistake is made.

His body was tanned and the muscles of his arms presented to her as he stood dramatically, his hands high above his head holding an imaginary sword before gracefully moving towards her before smiling and playfully pouncing on her laughing.

She held him by the belt rings of his pants close to her. Whether the wine or the altitude her head was spinning and his scent and smile were intoxicating and between them and high above the electricity began to dance.

She smiled and shocked both of them by kissing him, playfully to begin with but then as their hips pressed together the kiss and their passion grew and she felt his embrace tighten and his excitement grow.

“Come catch me, my Matador” she laughed as the thunder from above came rolling across the mountains around them, the air warming ahead of the rain that would soon fall.

She laughed as she stepped over the stye and began to cross the meadow towards a large tree that stood in the centre.

She could hear him laughing now behind her as he chased playfully his young bull.

She could also hear the beating of her own heart now pounding in her chest as she ran, the warm earth and grass beneath her feet and threw her head and hair back allowing that feeling of abandon and freedom to wash over her.

As he called out again playfully closing on her, she felt the initial drops of rain falling out of the darkness above onto her brown skin as she ran. As it intensified into a downpour she closed on the centre of the field and the feel of the wet grass and the grasp of his hand at her arm from behind drew her to the ground, as she pulled him down onto her as they rolled in the wet grass and earth at the food of the tree.

Kissing now, letting their tongues search greedily for one another, feeling his hands pull her white dress up and allowing his fingers to enter her she could feel her heart pumping within her.

He growled low and lingering within her ear, before pulling with his lips as he pushed himself deep inside her.

She felt his body push deep and moved her hips below to welcome him and allowed her hands to fall low, fingers inside his open trousers now, pushing her nails into the exposed flesh and pulling him hard, urging him deeper within.

As their bodies instinctively moved, wrapped deep in one another she saw the world around them lit up by lightening ripping the night sky far above them.

“Why did you run ?” he said, the whites of his eyes contrasting the deep darkness surrounding them.

“Why every not ?” she breathed with a laugh, squeezing once again with her fingers, taking her lover deep.

“We’re back grandmother, is everything ok” a voice came from the other side of the room and the image of that meadow, decades ago and the feel of her young Spanish lover evaporated.

“Oh, simply wonderful” was the reply from the old woman, smiling in the armchair beside the light.