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London, 1996

“Mummy, mummy, wake up! Please don’t leave me.” A dark shadow appeared, as a man

advanced towards her.

“Mummy’s not going to wake up, but Daddy will look after you.”

“Please don’t hurt me, I’ll be good. I promise.”

An arm went around the child, and darkness fell.

* * * *

Seville, 2010

A mixture of sounds and smells fill the streets of Seville. The reverberation of marching

bands, crying and laughing erupt through every street. Aromas of orange blossom of azahar,

incense and candle wax waft softly through the air. Closing my eyes, inhaling the fragrances that

blow by.

A crowd of onlookers watch the statues of saints on floats meander their way along the

streets. The image of Christ begins winding through the busy avenues, the people claw to get

near it, touching, kissing and confessing to the image as it moves to the church.

I relish the sights as the Madruga or processions bring to life the week before the

crucifixion. Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday each represents a day before Christ was crucified,

and pasos, or floats, carry the images of the Virgin Mary.

My thoughts wonder to the first time I experienced this unique event.

“Make sure you save your strength for Friday and Sunday, my dear,” my aunt advised. “On

Friday morning we can travel back through time to the morning that our Lord had to carry the

cross through the shouting crowds up to Golgotha Hill.

“And in the afternoon you will witness many statues passing through the streets with Christ

on the cross, representing the Crucifixion. Our blessed Holy Mother Mary will also be carried

through the streets, as she represents the sorrow she felt when her son was crucified.”

That day was filled with mourning. People cried and pleaded for forgiveness as statues of

Christ and Mary were carried on the floats. I could remember my aunt explaining to me about the

sudden explosion of instruments and songs that erupted all over the city on Friday night.

“It represents how God tore the land in two. How the temple curtains were torn from top to

bottom. The tombs broke open, and the bodies of many holy people were raised to life.”

My heart beat as I remembered that dramatic night. How tears had filled my eyes because of

the suffering of Christ. I had told my aunt that I didn’t want to return, it was so sad.

“Oh, my child. This is not the end. On the Easter Sunday it represents Christ rising from the

dead. It’s the best part of Holy Week.”

I had reluctantly attended. The day was full of light, color and energy. People celebrated in

the streets, crying and laughing at the same time. Vibrations erupted all over the city as the

church and cathedral bells rang out, celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

A hand gently nudged me out of my reverie.

“Come on,” Celestina encouraged, “otherwise we will never be able to get home again.”

I glanced back at the floats one last time, finally turning to withdraw from the celebrations.

Navigating through the busy crowds into the narrow, winding cobbled streets of Santa Cruz,

the whitewashed houses lengthened up on each side of us, sloping towards each other.

Entering through the iron-gated doors into the courtyard filled with century-old gardens and

aromatic orange trees, many could still hear Semana Santa travelling down the streets.

I welcomed the familiar feel of our Spanish-style apartment, the walls graced with white

paint and paintings that were collected by both of us. Splashes of maroon brightened up the

traditional earthy tones that decorated our living room.

Strolling through the dining room that led out onto the patio, I gazed out over the Alcazar

gardens. The variety of trees, flowers, ponds, fountains and terraces provided a view unique to


Closing my eyes, leaning against the iron railing, inhaling the delicate aromatic scents of

rose, orange and frangipani that garnish each patio along the street.

The culminating aromas filling my nostrils, but the sounds that made the people laugh with

pleasure, I couldn’t experience. The marching bands, the trod of the horses did not reach my


I subconsciously reached behind my head and fingered the scar crisscrossing along my

hairline. The scar that would daily remind me of what I lost, of what I could never get back.

Staring out at the deserted streets, I reluctantly entered into the humid confines of the

apartment. Celestina hummed along to some music, swaying her hips as she placed grainy bread

on top of a stacked sandwich. Her model-like height of 5’8 accentuated her thin frame, while her

long black hair cascaded down her shoulders and nearly reached her lower back. The intensity of

her emerald green eyes, matched with her sexual prowess, drew men to her like flies.

Her confidence was something I could never achieve. A weakness I could never let go.

Celestina handed me a plate and proceeded out on to the patio. We sat in silence, staring out

at the Plaza’s gardens.

First making eye contact with me, she wiped her hands on her short skirt.

“So, do you want to hear about my latest conquest?” Her eyes held a mischievous twinkle.

Shaking my head in amusement, I couldn’t help but smile. I didn’t need to go out and have

fun; she did enough for both of us.

“Perhaps you should write a book. You have enough tales to fill a large novel.”

I turned to her, waiting for her provoked reaction.

Smiling, she tilted her head back.

“Someone has to.”

Shaking my head once again, I stood, making it clear I wasn’t in the mood for one of her tales.

“While you daydream, I’ll go for a walk to clear my head. Those smells are enough to

intoxicate anyone.”

She didn’t reply as I made my way out.

Standing for a moment in the courtyard, everything around me silent, I again fingered the

scar on the back of my head. The injury that caused permanent damage, an injury that left me

unable to hear.

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