At around two in the afternoon, Alazne and I arrive at the La Perla restaurant, located right next to the popular La Concha beach in Donostia. I had wanted a reservation not only to enjoy eating at a fancy restaurant, but also to keep flaunting to my girlfriend how much money I stole, although as far as Alazne knows, my riches are mainly inherited. It’s too bad that we ended up with an overcast day with clouds that are turning greyer, because otherwise we would have gotten a view of dozens of beachgoers lounging on the sand or taking a bath in the Cantabrian sea. Not that I wanted to ogle at half-naked bodies while I’m eating next to my girlfriend.
As we wait in the entrance for some waiter to lead us to our table, I take a good look at my beloved Alazne again. After I had informed her that we were going to eat at a fancy restaurant in the capital of our province, she wanted me to buy her a dress to match. First she bought a couple of tear-shaped aquamarine earrings, which look lovely in her pretty ears. Shen then chose a type of garb apparently called a skater dress, with a high, defined waist and a flared skirt that almost reaches her knees. Although the base of the dress is white, it’s so filled with floral designs, all of them roses, that it looks from punch pink to crepe pink, with a smattering of green. It reminds me of the kind of elegant dresses that Asier’s ex-fiancée Ainhoa wears, and I wonder if my girlfriend was inspired by how confident Ainhoa looked. Unfortunately, due to how this day risks ending in rain, Alazne wears a denim jacket over the expensive dress.
This morning I got to see for the first time how Alazne shaved her legs. I prefer her untamed look, but it seems that my girlfriend took this outing as a challenge. However, the enthusiasm she had gone to bed with yesterday had been replaced with a worrying lethargy as soon as she woke up today. It felt as if she was forcing herself to go through the motions, because otherwise she would have spent the day holed up at our house. During our train ride to Donostia, Alazne kept shifting her weight in the seat as if constantly uncomfortable. She had trouble holding my gaze, and the corners of her mouth kept falling.
A waiter finally checks our reservation and walks us to a table at the back of the restaurant, in front of a curved wall with a panoramic view of the beach and the nearby islands, as well as a beach-themed ornamental display that looks like an imitation of a Japanese sand garden. The tablecloth is snow white and the cloth napkins are neatly folded.
We look the expensive menu over. I point out several appetizing choices, but I can tell that Alazne is barely paying attention. Maybe because the bags under her eyes are more prominent today, her hazel eyes seem sunken. She was nervously tucking a lock of light brown hair behind her ear when I place my hand on her free one, which startles her. I caress her skin with my thumb.
“You aren’t fine today, are you,” I say softly.
Alazne lifts her gaze shyly towards my eyes. She looks as if she were the thief instead of me. I regret having dragged her out for a tiring outing today, even though she knew it was coming and she went along willingly.
“I-I am so, so sorry, Asier,” she says with a weak, pitiful voice. “I felt it coming yesterday. It’s… I’m going through another cycle.” Alazne palms her face with her free hand and exhales slowly before continuing. “I’m sorry. I really wanted our day to be perfect, but… I go and do this to you. It’s not fair.”
I look around in case any of the other clients of the restaurant, which is crowded, or the waiters are paying attention to us. I lower my voice.
“You mean you are depressed, right?”
“Yes. And it’s my fault. It’s my fault for making you feel weak and powerless because you couldn’t do anything to help me. It’s my fault that–“
I lift Alazne’s chin up with my index finger to look into her eyes.
“First of all, my love, I’m guessing you feel guilty and worthless and all that nasty shit of which depression tries to convince you. It’s a demon dragging you to a lonely death. Alazne, I am well aware that you suffer from depression, and I love you. I intend to be with you forever. You will go through great times and also some depressive times as well, and that’s alright. Those feelings will pass.”
Alazne looks down with a frown.
“But, Asier, I feel like whenever I’m depressed and I’m sick, I’m a burden to you. I don’t want to hold you back from being the person you are meant to be. I’m sure there is someone out there more dedicated than I am.”
I can almost see a tiny black gremlin perched on her brain and scratching her grey matter.
“You are not a burden, and I don’t want anyone else. You know that your depression is tainting your emotions right now. Just take deep breaths and tell yourself that in a few days you’ll get better.”
Alazne breathes in and out.
“But what if I don’t?” she asks with a quavering in her voice. “What if this is how it’s going to be? You’re still young, you can find someone who isn’t going to make you miserable.”
“Sweetie, I want to grab you by the shoulders and shake you a bit. Please look over the menu. Anything that strikes your fancy, I will bankroll. Your boyfriend is rich. Fill your belly with expensive food.”
Alazne sniffs, but reads the menu.
“T-the fish soup sounds good. Hake in green sauce… And some french fries.”
I smile at her, and stroke her hand.
“Alright, you ordered. I have decided as well, so I’ll flag down a waiter.”
As I was turning, Alazne interrupts me.
“I-I doubt I will be able to taste much of the food, because… I can barely tell apart smells, and everything looks greyer somehow, as if the colors were faded. Ah, I feel as I am wading through mud just by being awake.”
I shiver, then cough in my hand to disguise it. My poor girl is a living ghost. Maybe just a few days out of the month, or in the worst cases most of the days out of any given week. Back when I was roaming the afterlife, I envied every single living person, because they didn’t need to experience what true meaninglessness and hopelessness feel like, but getting a taste of those while you still breathe… If someone had designed this universe, I would punch him in the face.
“Alazne, I’ll tell you something similar to what I said back when we went to the amusement park: just relax and enjoy yourself to whatever extent you are able to. You don’t have to justify yourself to anybody. When we get home, you can go to sleep if you want, extra warm if you need it, and tomorrow you’ll wake up without an alarm.”
Alazne smiles crookedly, and nods.
“I-I love you so much, Asier. I feel that you understand me…”
I realize that our waiter is approaching us. I’m quick to reply to my girlfriend that I love her as well, and as Alazne lowers her head to dissuade the guy from addressing her, I order our food. As usual, I avoid even thinking about the price. I haven’t been following the movements in my bank account, which actually belongs to Asier, for a while. No money was getting in, and I never had spent money as quickly as I have since I possessed that cheating bastard’s body. I was beginning to feel reckless, which threatened to cause me vertigo about a possible future in which I wouldn’t be able to pay for anything, so instead of figuring out a solution, I simply stopped looking up how much money remained in the account. I’m good at ignoring important stuff.
Alazne only talks, with a weak voice, because she wants to order wine. Once the waiter leaves, I keep caressing my girl’s hand with my thumb. Beyond the window, the waves of the nervous sea keep crashing into the darkened sand and splashing foam. A couple of people are walking their dogs, their small figures so close to the lower frame of the window that I can’t see under their knees.
Alazne smiles softly at me, and then she hides her mouth in her palm to stifle a yawn. I can only imagine how hard she’s fighting to avoid ruining our day. She must be feeling cranky and restless, and the tiny demon that possessed her must be trying to convince her that nothing matters, but she still manages to smile.
“Asier… Back when we started dating, what future did you see for us?” she asks suddenly.
“Even though I suspect that your darkened mood is trying to tangle me into something troublesome, I’ll answer as honestly as I can. I wanted for us to live together before this body turned forty. I wanted you in my house, I wanted to hold you as I slept, and see your beautiful freckles from up close every morning, as soon as I woke up.”
“Y-you wanted that so soon, huh…?”
“Why, what kind of future did you see for us?”
She lowers her gaze to the fork with which she’s fidgeting.
“I wanted… to stay with you…”
“I thought I could make you happier. And although you must feel like shit right now, you were feeling great just a couple of days ago. You will return to normal in a short while, maybe a few days.”
I raise her hand and kiss it, then caress the side of her face. Her aquamarine earrings keep glinting.
“You’re right. I know you’re right.”
A long yawn interrupts her. She opened her mouth to continue speaking, but the waiter comes with our bottle of wine. Alazne’s expression emits guilt as if she was planning to rob the place. She only relaxes slightly when the guy leaves.
I fill half of Alazne’s glass with wine. I don’t know shit about this beverage except that it usually tastes good, and most things taste amazing for me now that I’m not technically a ghost anymore. The wine will also lessen Alazne’s anxiety once she gets tipsy.
Alazne downs the whole glass in three gulps. I stare at her as I sip from my glass. It’s dry and slightly bitter, with a strong aftertaste, but pleasant.
“I’m drinking too much, I know,” Alazne says. “But I’m tired.”
If anything, getting drunk will end up with her sleeping the entire ride home. Fortunately for her she will be able to rest her head against mine and pass out.
“Why did you bring up our future as a couple, Alazne? In case you had any particular reason.”
“I don’t know… It’s hard to put it into words. I never saw a future, in general. Not for me at least, you know? So I never prepared for the future. In that sense I’m almost like a teenager, an eternal one… Because it didn’t feel like a future was going to come for me. Sure, I’d need to pay the rent and the utilities, but I did it because I… To go along with the flow. When I thought about where I would be in five, ten, twenty years… Only blackness. But now you and I could last for the rest of our lives, right?”
I pour some more wine in her glass. This time she only takes a sip.
“Yeah, I can understand not having a plan for the future,” I say. “I don’t retain any memory of ever having chosen to become someone’s fiancé. This Asier… that I used to be surely intended to spend a lot of money in a fancy wedding with that Ainhoa person, and then live his life with her or whatever it is that married people do. It’s hard for me to grasp at the moment.”
The waiter comes with Alazne’s fish soup and my clam rice. Despite our troubling conversation and Alazne’s despondency, I could eat a horse, so I dig into my plate, which is a little hill, smaller than I would have preferred, certainly for how expensive it must be, of rice covered with a sauce that smells like garlic and pepper. The clams are stuck as if they were riding a wave only to end up crashing into the rice hill. It tastes real good, although I doubt you’d want to kiss someone who just ate this.
“In this new life of mine I have to deal with being present in the world,” Alazne says softly, “present to other people, managing my ties to others, and also planning for what’s to come. I’m so new at this, it’s what I mean.”
“Yeah, I understand,” I say while the taste of the rice mixed with clam sauce fills my mouth. “But we are in the same boat, aren’t we? I have to deal with my memory loss, so whatever plans for the future I made these last close to forty years didn’t amount to anything. Well, I guess I got my house along the way. Is your fish soup any good?”
She nods as she swirls the spoon in the soup absentmindedly.
We don’t speak for a while. The muffled squawks of the seagulls reach us through the windows as they fly in circles over the pigeon blue waters. The clouds are puffing up and turning greyer as they glide swiftly southwards. I should have brought an umbrella.
Alazne hasn’t raised her head in a couple of minutes. She’s three quarters of the way done with her soup. I get that she doesn’t want to talk, but I don’t want her to feel as if I’d rather not deal with her. If it were for me, and if I thought she wouldn’t blame herself for it, I would take her home and hold her under the sheets until she fell asleep. And being at home naked always feels better than anything we do out, so why even leave the house?
“I’ll be a bit more serious than usual,” I say. “Planning for the future reeks of responsibility, which I have never been fond of. I hated it, actually. Our relationship for me is like a sacred bond, closer to the feral, lifelong relationship of two monogamous animals who come out of their mother’s nether regions with most of their choices in life written in their genes. They will find a mate and live with that other creature for the rest of their lives even if they won’t ever be able to argue why.”
Alazne smiles at me, although her eyes are sleepy. I can tell she appreciates that I carry the conversation.
“I think I understand what you mean, but I’d prefer to believe that there are also rational reasons for which we are together…”
“Well, to put it in a different way, it’s like the relationship between a rider and her horse. You can be separated by hundreds of miles, but you will still feel a special connection which is greater than any man-made construct. And when you return to your horse’s side, it’s as if no time had passed: you mount it so naturally that no words need to leave your mouth.”
My girlfriend chuckles. I’m glad I got to cause it. She cleans some eye discharge with her index finger.
“The analogies are getting better and better. That’s more of a symbol of a master-slave relationship. Is that what I am to you, your little slave…?”
The waiter appeared out of nowhere carrying Alazne’s hake in green sauce and her french fries, along with my grilled sirloin steak, which looks thick and juicy. Alazne tells the guy that he can take her unfinished soup. He nods, and in a few seconds he’s gone.
As I cut my steak, I turn my head towards Alazne.
“You are my little queen. And you will remain little, as you’ll always be significantly smaller than this big body of mine, unless you start wearing ridiculously tall heels.”
She shakes her head slowly, but she’s entertained. She downs more wine. Her eyes are getting drowsier and her neck is wobbly, but I can tell that she’s caring less and less about her surroundings as well as her pains, which diminishes her anxiety.
“You are incorrigible, my love, but I love you anyway,” Alazne says.
“Let me tell you too that I know damn well how fragile life is, and also what awaits us on the other side. Well… The second-hand account that Kateryna has given us. Both of those points emphasize that all the races that most people around us are so focused on winning are ridiculous, pathological manifestations of their fear of death. Every effort to justify their existence, to build a legacy whether through children or some material work that they believe is going to survive the inevitable collapse of our civilization.”
“We call it the ‘pseudosocial order’ at the office,” Alazne answers as she chews on a mouthful of hake.
I have no idea what she’s talking about, but I think I’m getting tipsy too. Whatever. I drink more wine.
“I don’t believe in the future is what I mean, Alazne,” I say almost slurring, “only in being here with my lovely girlfriend whom I love more than life itself. The only future I care about is a succession of presents with you. Even if there are no other people, no acquaintances nor friends… Except ghosts, who know what’s up. Us three amigas eking out some dignified life while lost in a jungle overpopulated with irrational, homicidal monkeys.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Alazne says.
“I think we need to take it easy with the wine,” I say, caring very little.
My girlfriend drinks half of the glass she had almost filled to the brim. I need to remain sober. We might end up falling asleep on the train and then wake up in France.
Alazne wipes the wine from her lips with the back of her hand.
“You know how lucky you have been, Asier? You can hold those opinions because you didn’t have to work from eight in the morning to four in the afternoon or even later.”
“What, you mad, bro?”
“No, I’m just saying…”
“I know that people pretend that being a slave to the system is more dignified than escaping it, but that’s them being pussies. I don’t see how working for others makes you any more alive that not working at all.”
Alazne refrains from dirtying the back of her hand any further. She takes her napkin and dabs the corners of her mouth.
“I didn’t suggest that it was better to waste your time working. I just said you are lucky because you haven’t had to.”
I remain silent for a few seconds as I cut a piece of my steak.
“When I was younger… Well, I have retained some memories, after the accident and all that, of working in an office for a while when I was either twenty or twenty one. And it was shit. Humiliating, soul-killing garbage. You know how terrible it is to sit in an office while stewing in your anger because you want to murder your bosses but you can’t because the system would send you to jail?”
“How do you know that you would go to jail and not just get fired?”
“The system, man. The fucking criminal justice system will punish you if you try to kill your boss. I’m telling you, the world is a bad place.”
“You’re right,” Alazne says.
“These days you need the salaries of two fucking people to afford paying the rent and the utilities, and most of the remaining money you spend it on shoving food into your damn mouths. People return from work annoyed and weary. Do you think that’s conducive to a sustaining a stable relationship with your significant other? And where are the babies, the politicians ask. Swimming up your assholes!”
“If that were true, then there would be no relationships at all,” Alazne says.
Damn, she’s making a good enough point. I thought she was tipsier than me.
“You know what? You’re right,” I say. “I’m just scared of getting my hopes up again and being disappointed.”
“You will never have a worry-free life. I know I won’t.”
I try to talk before I have finished passing a bolus of steak through my esophagus, and I end up coughing a few times.
“What I mean is that after work I could only vegetate and rest enough so I would be mentally present when the next workday started. You know what I mean? And how many people do meaningful work? It’s invoices, auditing systems, snorting coke in the bathroom. Fucking Italians. None of that matters in the grand scheme of things. Ah, but every four years vote for this or that party of self-absorbed liars, who work for foreigners anyway. Are any of those parties defending the stuff that matters? Then the results come and people say, oh well, we’ll get to vote again in four years. How do you know that the elections are legitimate? Who is controlling those computers? It’s almost as if this modern world was built so most people would remain as poor and as burned out as possible. If they remained awake, they’d be out there loading their rifles.”
“If you go on like this, you’re going to make me depressed,” Alazne says, and then chuckles at her own joke.
I point at her with my fork, and part of the steak I had picked up falls back onto my plate.
“I feel lucky, yes, but that I can support you, and myself for that matter, without having to waste in some office the decades I have left to occupy this decaying body. We are both the lucky ones.”
She smiles, and we pick up our glasses to clink them together in a toast.
We leave the restaurant around four. As the time to get up and totter to the exit was approaching, I was surprised that the humidity hadn’t yet broken into rain. The breeze is uncomfortably cool, and imagine than much more for Alazne’s bare, shaven legs. I also need to make an effort to keep my back straight, because I have gotten pleasantly drunk. My Alazne holds on to my arm as if she fears getting lost.
“Alright, baby, let’s go home,” I say.
“No, I want to walk for a bit. That way.”
She’s pointing in the direction of Monte Igueldo. Our train station is in the opposite way.
“Are you sure, or is this your inebriation speaking? It might start raining any minute.”
“I want to walk with you. I missed you.”
She isn’t making much sense, but I love those big glazed eyes looking up at me, along with her drowsy smile. Ah, she’s so cute I just want to squeeze her in my arms until she pops.
I realize that in a corner of her mouth remains a crumb of the chocolate cake, sprinkled with chocolate chips, that we had for dessert. I lean down to snatch the crumb with the tip of my tongue, and after Alazne opens her wet mouth, I also shove my tongue in there for good measure. Her saliva tastes slightly like garlic and olive oil.
A man coughs behind us. I realize that we were blocking the exit as we made out without a care in the world. After we move to the side, a whole family of around eight people comes out. I wrap my arm around Alazne’s shoulders and we start walking towards Ondarreta beach.
“Well, I guess that if we get tired we can get on a bus.”
Alazne laughs through her nose. To my surprise she grabs my ass and squeezes it.
“And if it starts raining, you can always buy an umbrella with your millions of euros, mister.”
I laugh at her joke, and pull her closer to me. I wish she would keep squeezing my ass, to be honest.
A few people are strolling on the promenade along with us. On our right, beyond the slightly rusted balustrade, extends the La Concha beach. The wet sand looks like a wavy ring around the crashing waves, while on the dry sand remain the footsteps of beachgoers from previous days, as well as dogs. Some woman is throwing a broken branch so her canine slave can retrieve it for her, and not content with having received it back, she will keep throwing it over and over, confusing the inferior mind of the hapless dog. Some of the clouds are like big, cloudy breasts, and they look so low that it feels as if the whole sky is going to descend upon us slowly like some trap. I want to get squeezed into a paste by gargantuan breasts full of milk.
The flying seagulls are getting crazier as if announcing a disaster. The cars on the adjacent road keep zooming pass. Some vehicle’s speaker emits a ‘thumb thumb’, competing with the pounding of the waves.
I move Alazne’s hand away, but carefully.
“No, Alazne, that’s my dick,” I say.
“I know it is, silly. I want dick.”
“Not now, though. There are like joggers and shit passing by.”
“I don’t care…” she adds, but she doesn’t insist on fondling my genitals.
We have almost walked to the end of this beach. An inclined outcrop of bedrock has emerged out of the sand and looks like the soggy, fosilized pages of an ancient book. I smell the ocean whenever a wave crashes.
“Alazne, one of these days I want you to sit on the bed, then let me lean sideways on your lap so I can suck on your breasts. I want to suck on those round nipples of yours as if I were a baby. I want you to keep running your fingers through my hair and telling me that you care for me and love me so much.”
Alazne hugs me from the side, which makes me stagger. Her breasts are flattening against my ribcage. It doesn’t feel as if she’s wearing a bra.
“Alright, but only if you let me lie on your lap and suck on your dick as if it were a pacifier.”
“That sounds so good. So you want to be my little baby, huh?”
“Yes, of course,” she says drowsily.
“God, you are making me wet. I will end up licking you everywhere like a lollipop.”
“You’re so romantic…”
We reach the part of the promenade where the road enters a tunnel and where the pavement goes around an ivy-covered wall. We also end up walking through a tunnel with a roof that is painted as if some artist high on acid had tried to depict how the ocean would like if he were lying at the bottom. A black guy is sitting with his back against the wall of the tunnel to play the guitar, but nobody pays any attention. I hear him singing ‘imagine there’s no heaven…’ with a heavy Caribbean accent.
“There might be no heaven already,” I say to nobody as we exit the tunnel. “Maybe those people who move on dissolve into nothing. Phantom particles that return to the universe.”
“Who knows? I just hope there’s good music in the afterlife. Where to now?”
“What? You were the one who wanted to take a walk, sweetie.”
“So? You’re the one who’s been navigating.”
“You’re the one with the smartphone and the GPS app.”
“I will drive a truck straight into your guts and I will make a little home in there,” Alazne says.
“Yeah, I wish you could sleep inside me, so my organs could keep you warm.”
“If only you were a refrigerator…”
I point at the beach on our right.
“We are already at Ondarreta.”
“I am wherever I want to be.”
“I guess you wanted to be at Ondarreta, then.”
“How can you tell? Are we at the beach?”
“As you can see.”
“I thought we were already here. I don’t see any change.”
“Just look around. It’s a beach. You’re seeing the sea.”
“It’s just water,” Alazne says as she squints. “All I see is a whole lot of water. Is that all?”
“There’s also boats with masts like spiky dicks. They threw their anchors in the water to float in place and become traps for the monster pussies what would fall down from the sky.”
“Well, that’s original,” Alazne says.
“There is also a lot of sand.”
“Are there any monster pussies?”
“None that I can see,” I say, disappointed.
We are walking down a slope towards the main entrance of this beach. There’s a raised pool on the sand as if for small swimmers. Also an open shed that stores kayaks and around it some plastic garbage strewn about that look like toys.
Alazne points at an area of the sand a bit further ahead.
“Look, there’s a bunch of white and blue poles there.”
“Those are called flagpoles. You can attach a flag on them to claim land. There are also folded chairs paired with each of them.”
“We should found a new country,” Alazne says. “We could call it… the Nation of Alazne.”
“That’s a terrible name for a nation.”
“It’s a terrible name for a girl!” Alazne complains, and then sniffs.
“Well… It would be if you were a guy. And I’m glad you are not, I assure you.”
“You’re also not a guy, so how would you know?”
I shrug. I don’t think I ever was a guy. It’s not something I’m interested in.
“I just want to sit down and feel the sand under my feet and soles for a little while before I die.”
“What would I do without you?” Alazne asks me with a teary voice.
I put my arm around her shoulders as we continue walking, seemingly nowhere.
“You would found a country anyway,” I tell her.
“I would. A much better nation.”
“Of course, it would be the nation of us, and that’s the only one that matters. What would the national ethos be, though?”
“We would go for book publishing and trade, as well as exploration and mapping.”
“So it would be a nation that produces books about exploring and mapping the world?”
“Yes! We would be like… like Christopher Columbus, but less addicted to crack.”
“You should get that printed on a flag,” I tell her.
“What would be your job?”
“I don’t know. I’d be a ghost possessing every person about to die. I would guide them to the king of the afterlife, whom the newbie ghosts would duel against. If the newbie won, they would be able to dismantle the afterlife and set loose all the hopeless spirits back onto the plane of the living. It would be an Apocalypse.”
Alazne laughs and laughs and laughs. It’s nice, even if she sounds sick.
“That’s silly,” she says with a hoarse voice.
“It probably would’ve been a little too much for them to handle.”
There’s a small drop to the sand from the pavement, and we almost fall a couple of times. Thankfully we end up reaching the dwarf wall that delimits this side of Ondarreta beach. As we keep walking along it for no particular reason, I gasp, then point at a particular segment of the dwarf wall.
“We sat there after we escaped the Monte Igueldo amusement park, remember? We sat there and you cried and we made out and everything.”
“I’m a crybaby,” Alazne says while a tear jumps from her eye.
“You can cry all you want. I will drink your tears.”
I stop her for a moment and turn her towards me. I kiss her as the waves crash against the wall below.
“I’m sure you’ll outlive me,” I tell her.
“Nooo, don’t say that. How do you know?”
“You have too much ahead of you. You’re only just beginning to live, and I’m already ending.”
“I want to die when you die. We should both die at the same time.”
I don’t know what to say, but I nod. I keep hugging Alazne for a bit as she cries silently against my neck. She pulls away, wipes her tears and grabs my hand.
“Ah, you were guiding me to the Peine del Viento, right…?”
“I wasn’t guiding you anywhere.”
“We can go then.”
I shrug. I pull Alazne closer and put my arm around her waist. We pass in front of fenced tennis courts where villa-on-a-hill rich people hit each other’s balls. I don’t know where the hell I’m going, but I have Alazne so it doesn’t matter. The sun is setting and the first stars are already starting to twinkle in the sky. No, what am I saying, it’s like five in the afternoon.
We leave behind a building that looks like a sports center. This is the end of the road, and the Peine del Viento starts. Apart from a bunch of people drinking coffee at the outside tables of a bar right next to the entrance, nobody cares about this place. From here we can finally see the horrifying flatness of the horizon, where the grey clouds meet the pigeon blue waters as separated as if they were oil and water. Alazne trips on the first step into the plaza, art installation or whatever it is, and she falls on her knees. I help her up.
“My knees hurt,” she complains.
“I will rub them later.”
The sea is getting nastier, throwing waves against the only wall that separates us from its anger. I could swear it’s starting to drizzle as well. Alazne and I keep venturing further into the Peine. We go straight to look at the artsy holes in the floor. Whenever a big wave crashes against the rocks under the square, the pressure or whatever shoots up a stream of saltwater up those tubes, which sounds and looks like a whale’s water spout, although I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a whale. So if you were stupid enough to stand there looking down at the holes, the blast would penetrate through your nostrils and shatter your brain. I have no idea who thought it was a good idea to install this ghastly implement out here in the open, but I suppose it’s a testament to how little most people care about others.
Alazne stands unsteadily next to the dwarf wall and is staring at the sea while the waves keep pounding against the rocks. Someone, I guess some artist, inserted rusted iron beams into the most prominent rocks around, which remain out of reach, and bent the beams so they kind of look like they represent bulls, if you are drunk.
“Don’t stand so close to the edge, Alazne. Some wave might come and take you away.”
“I don’t give a shit about anything anymore.”
“You don’t speak for Alazne, demon! Come here, Alazne.”
My girlfriend walks away from the edge and stumbles towards me.
I wrap my arms around her shoulders and embrace her.
“You have to be strong,” I tell her. “Let’s go sit down somewhere.”
We end up approaching the end of this place, and also of all things. Standing so close to the edge of the world, whenever a wave explodes against the wall, particles of its foam splash our faces. It’s also drizzling. The waters below are different layers of foam sliding over each other and exchanging bubbles. It looks like carbonated cum.
“I’m tired, Asier,” Alazne says in a high-pitched, weak voice. “Let’s sit.”
I sit on the cold, humid rock of a bench that looks more like an enormous step in a stair to nowhere. I pat my lap.
“Come here, sweetie. Straddle me, hug me tight.”
Alazne sits on my lap and wraps her arms around my neck. I hold her head against my chest and caress her hair. I smell the scent of her ear and feel its shape inside my palm. The cold breeze blows.
“Look at that seagull above us. It’s been circling us for a while now, as if looking for someone to shit on.”
“I don’t want to look at anything,” Alazne says, although sounding as if she’s too comfy to bother.
The waves keep going in and out. In and out. In and out.
“Asier, it’s raining,” Alazne says.
“Yeah. Whatever. Hey, do you remember how you felt when you woke up this morning, all depressed?”
“Do you still feel that way?”
“Well, do you want to go back home, or do you want to stay here with me?”
“I want to stay here with you forever,” she says.
“Then let’s do that. I’m not going anywhere, and neither are you.” I bury my face in her hair, which caresses my nose. “I feel so good with you, Alazne. So many happy moments you have given me.”
“You make me happy too.”
“These good moments can paint over the grey of dozens of years. You don’t understand it as well as I do. One day we will die and we won’t know real colors nor tastes nor smells anymore. We will only have the memories of the good times in the back of our minds. I will be able to stand there in the hopeless fade and say to myself that I was here with you and that I felt this way. Our little flame will keep us warm. Without each other we would drift forever, we would only open our mouths to scream at the dark.”
I close my eyes and hold her cheek against my face. I hear her breathing deeply. Rainwater is trickling down my neck.
“I had a dream that we were a family, Asier,” Alazne murmurs next to my ear. “I didn’t have to think about it, I saw myself holding our little baby girl.”
I keep quiet. My heart swells up and my throat feels parched.
“I know that can’t happen,” she says in a low voice, “and it’s fine. I’m not asking for anything from you, Asier. I’m just letting you know how I feel.”
I hold her tighter.
“A little baby us, huh?” I say softly.
“A short, chubby baby with the biggest hazel eyes in the world.”
“I used to feel that the world had nothing for me. It was a foreign beast that would walk by and one day die without me being able to do anything but watch. But now I’ve thought of where to be, and the things to see… I feel like I can live, and every little part of it you gave it to me.”
“I’m so glad to hear that, Alazne,” I say, then I wipe away a few tears.
A man and a woman walking their dog pass us by and give us a glance. The woman smiles at us. They leave.
“So I need you to put a baby inside me now,” Alazne says.
“I don’t want to be a virgin anymore.”
I feel myself sobering up quickly.
“Alazne, are you looking forward to having a baby because you want us to become a family, or because if we have a baby together we are that less likely to leave each other?”
She snuggles her face into my neck for a few seconds.
“You want a gremlin growing inside you, turning you into a beast, and possibly ripping you apart as it enters this broken world?”
“It felt right to hold my baby.”
“They are a pain in the ass. They cry all day, they poop all over themselves, and they only stop when they’re hungry. You have to feed them every two hours. It’s basically like having a second job, but worse because you can’t even get drunk at the end of the day.”
“If you’re with me, I’ll manage. If I’m with you, you’ll manage.”
“A baby is not the means for something else. My parents had a baby because they were told to and because they couldn’t stand each other. They fucked everything up. They cursed me to exist.”
“I’m not your mom. I’ll always be here.”
I stare at her face in front of mine. There’s a whole person inside that robot made out of flesh and bone, and it’s looking back at me.
“Alright. Not today, though.”