“Maybe the worst things in life come free to us”

The thunder was tearing and horrendous, mercilessly harassing the night sky above Barcelona. That is when Joaquín woke up in a cold sweat, breathing heavily like a marathon runner. He could physically feel the dream leaving his head: first, slowly, and then all at once. Joaquín remembered only running after something or someone, yet he could not reach it. He felt as if he was  in a movie where you see the door and attempt to approach it, but the longer you run, the more distant it gets. Joaquín never suffered from neither nightmares or insomnia; his job would simply not allow it. Working as a dispatcher in the Barcelona El-Prat Airport, Joaquín spends over 15 hours supervising successful boardings and landings. Sleep, thus, was like a treasure and misusing it would simply drive him crazy. Yet, the last few years have dislodged Joaquín; he natch was not in control of his subconsciousness.

Anna-Maria, Joaquín’s beloved fiancee, was like the green light for Gatsby: distant yet so dear. She did not fall under the “beauty” standards; no silk skin, no shining curls, not even charming eyes. Annie, as Joaquín loved to call her, was stunning in her averageness.

Making its way through the darkness of the bedroom, the light of the digital watch was too bright, causing Joaquín’s eyes to squint and water. It was quarter past five in the morning and his dream of falling asleep again, remained a dream. Joaquín ran his fingers through his hair and and stayed unconscious for a couple of minutes. He felt dehydrated. Trying his best to leave the bed quietly, like there was someone else in the room, Joaquín left the bedroom. He stopped on the way to the kitchen and looked at himself in the mirror, hanging in the hallway. Painted with silver, the baroque styled mirror-frame was once shiny and aesthetic, yet now was covered with dust. Joaquín draw a parallel between him and the mirror: once delighted and joyous, his face now looked mournful, covered with wrinkles. His hair, once curly and shining gold in the sun, now half-gray, reminded an abandoned nest. With these reflections he entered the kitchen.

The first rays of sun were making their way through the curtains, illuminating the room. Joaquín poured himself a glass of ice-cold water and finished it double-quickly, wincing and squeezing the glass. He stood there, wistfully examining the kitchen; all the details reminded him of Annie. She was the one to choose that goofy plate with Pablo Picasso’s drawing on it, which now was hanging on the wall above the oven. That black and white picture of Eiffel Tower taken from an unusual angle was also chosen by her. The vase on the table, once filled with fragrant pink peonies now was useless. Every inch of that house reminded him of Annie, and it was tearing him apart, breaking him from the inside like a tree, struck by lightning. Joaquín did not notice himself standing there for more than an hour; his back now hurt, crackling from the slightest move. He was on his way to the door when he noticed a faded calendar hanging on the refrigerator. The 21st of May. Joaquín stood there covered with goosebumps as if he had forgotten something important. Well, he actually had. He was blaming himself for being so absent-minded; he was ashamed of forgetting about Annie.

– I’m sorry, darling, I almost forgot, – Joaquín touched the calendar – today is the 4th anniversary, isn’t it? I was simply defeated by insomnia … I know it’s not an excuse. – he exhaled heavily – I’ll visit you today, promise. I’ll bring your mom, she hasn’t been to your grave for a year. – Joaquín looked up on the table and examined the once-used-vase – I’ll pick your favourite flowers. Pink peonies, I remember. – he whispered, looking out of the window, squinting from the rays of morning sun.