I wondered for a moment if she were kneeling, perhaps stocking the shelves, she barely peeked over the bar, but her Spanish green eyes were bright when she smiled and she told me she didn’t live far; she reached to my shoulders in her bare feet, not much higher in heels, and from my towering perch I never mentioned the few stray, white hairs she couldn’t see; about five foot two, I’m just happy she didn’t have far to fall when she fell in love with me. (Slow down she once said, we’re not rabbits you know (it was my first time, you see).)
She brightened dark rooms not because of her smile but rather her parchment-white skin, and her elfin-like body that sizzled with fire, blazing hot passion within; her lips with the curious twist at one side when she smiled, the Catalan spirit when angry; her manner of holding a glass by the stem with two fingers from her right hand (the tilt of the rim made me nervous she’d spill – oh, how she laughed at me).
One day she gave me a package, saying please do this favor for me, sell this hash to your friends at your work, and bring their pesetas to me; aback, aback I was taken, and though I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to lose her and chose to risk jail instead; those green eyes and her smile, the lips with the curious twist at one side, and the fog that veiled my mind as I thought of the passion we had; and I walked through the gate my ID card held high and my heart in my mouth, worried at being her mule; but once inside I faltered and failed, threw it away and gave her my money instead (she never let on if she knew I had paid nor did she ask me again).
The marvelous days and the sweet starry nights passed like a dream of romance as we talked and we danced ’til the moon fell away and the sun woke us each morning with a bashful glance; in Barcelona too the home of her birth we walked the streets until dawn, and we sat in old chapels to hear the monks chant, dined by the sea on platters of paella, and planned out our lives many years hence; but all good things eventually end (though I wanted this one to go on and on and on).
I think of her now when the wind kisses my cheek, when the sun warms my shoulders, when the sea washes my feet; occasionally too, when I sit at a bar, the bartender’s back to me, and the long black hair that reaches her hips, the waist that fits within my fingertips, the scent of orange blossoms, the translucent skin, and the voice that I cannot recall so I imagine a voice like Lauren Bacall, and I remember her lips brushing my ear as she whispered to me that love’s memories endure, but they elude me still like her voice, and the dreams that I dream but not about her, but about a lost love that remains faceless and I wonder in my sleep is it she. Then I sip my sangria with a toast to the glasses we shared on the balcony overlooking the Gulf of Cadiz, and the cones full of shrimp, and Shorty’s fried rice, and the walks along the Costa de la Luz. And though I remember it’s been thirty-eight years, it seems like just yesterday her eyes closed and I prayed and I prayed and I prayed they would open again, but they didn’t. Then the bartender turns, she’s about five foot two, and she stares at me and smiles and my heart leaps for joy but it’s not Susanna though her green eyes are the same.
But still she stared and smiled and I wonder should I believe in reincarnation.