I share with you an image of a wall.
Walls tell stories. It could be an important battle from World War II or it could just serve as the backdrop for a love story as it unfolds. Some walls are secretive. They reflect nothing of its past and refuse to give an inch as to what some of those stories might be. That is ok. That is what our imaginations are for. I’d like to think that is true. Might just be a wall. Might be more. Might be nothing. Might just be a secret that once revealed disappoint.
Might just be a wall. Might be more. Might be nothing. Might just be a secret that once revealed disappoints.
This is a wall near Europe Point. There was a plaque that described the purposes of the small doors and small windows. I could tell you what that plaque said. It would only be a glossy version of the truth.
It doesn’t tell you that the land is the property of the United Kingdom. The land is a small peninsula of a larger peninsula. To reach by foot or road, one must cross a tarmac. It can be reached by sea, but the crossing of tarmac between landing aircraft is at once exciting and terrifying.
There are hints to the Andalusian past. Hints.
The city center is an admixture. European, yes. English is spoken to be certain. So are other languages. If blindfolded and brought here you would not know where on the Mediterranean you are.
Sorry, I almost forgot.
It crumbles. The old, fragile stucco is exhausted. The red bricks break through like spilled blood. Open wounds. A peek into the past of these walls. I can picture a weary soldier sitting against the wall. One leg stretched out the other bent as it supports his arm. This arm is extended across the straight. A cigarette hangs perilously close to the edge of fingertips. He lit it and forgot it was there. Forgot? Probably not. He’s nodded off to sleep. His rifle rests next to him; its shadow falls, just right, across the soldier’s face.
The shadow blocks what is left of the sun and the breeze as swept this young man away from this remote outpost and back home to his lovely wife and children.
He misses her. Her soft hair tickling his neck. Flashes are all that are left of that summer in Ryhope. He can still smell the perfume from Mrs. Salkeld as he rented that tiny boat that summer. He never made it to that boat that day because he met her. She stood on the end of the pier. Smiling at him.
“You smell like an old woman.”
She smiled at him. He pulled the ticket that Mrs. Salkeld had handed him and pressed his nose against it.
“Mrs. Salkeld sprays everything with that perfume.”
The rest just happens. Quickly it unfolds. He sees her face. She is happy. Then she’s angry. The children play in the field.
The soldier quickly flicks the cigarette out across the way. Grabs his rifle and stands in one fluid motion. Fixes his cap.