Moment in Time

047

Self-portrait

Eva walked through the abandoned restaurant using memory as her guide and the shadows from the street lamps that filtered in. Her steps echoed as she passed through the bar, the servers area, and into the back room. There was more light here, thankfully. Nothing had changed. Thankfully. The table was still there. Broken plate shards crowded the floor around it. Wine bottles scattered across it, ten wine glasses empty. One still with ruby red lipstick embossed on the edge. The windows boarded with cheap plywood hiding the vista of a Mediterranean sea now glittered with the moon’s brilliance. She looked up to steal a glance through the glass roof. She remembered that night. The night she met him, then had to leave him without a goodbye.
“A toast, to the revolution,” Gregori, one of the ten friends, said with his glass lifted high.
“To love, that conquers all,” replied Eva, trumping the previous toast. Her eyes fixed firmly on Esteban.
“Ay ya!” her friends responded heartily united and drank full the vintage Clasico and filled them up again.
“Gregori, your revolution has no heart, that is why it will not win.”
“Who needs heart when you have the power of the people.”
“That power will not satisfy your real longing,” Esteban responded.
He did not take his eyes off her as he said that. She was captivated. He had been soft spoken that night, avoiding any conversation but theirs. After the first two courses it was though they were the only ones at table. He was enchanted, seemingly making up for lost time. How had they not met sooner through their friends — at parties that were more frequent than staged rallies in the public square. He had conviction. He had compassion. This could be something.
“We long for justice!” Gregori replied.
“On the contrary,”
His words were cut short by commotion followed by an explosion. First screams and then chaos. The building shook. The plates rattled. Dust sifted from the glass windows above them.
They heard a pin drop. Their eyes wide in disbelief. It was actually happening.
Canisters showered from above, onto the table and floor spewing green and yellow smoke. They panicked. The screams came closer as people rushed into the room. Yelling ensued followed by commanding of orders. Eva dashed under the table for protection. She reached out for Esteban. She felt the brush of his pant leg and then it was gone. The tables jostled. She could hear fighting overhead, threats, grunts, and then a tug. Someone pulled her waist, took her hand. She felt bodies brush all sides of her as her eyes stung in pain from the smoke. Soon she breathed fresh air but heard more chaos, yelling, explosions. Her hand was pulled even harder as she escaped to a safe haven. Gloria, another of their friends sitting next to her, saved her life. Weeks later normalcy replaced marshal law. The bewildered citizenry cautiously returned to the streets to explore the aftermath. It would be longer before she could explore her broken heart.
Eva sat down at the table and brushed aside the rubbish. She took the bottle she had brought and opened it. She took their two glasses and put them in front of her.
No one had seen him after that night. No one was allowed to ask more questions or inquire about those that disappeared.
Eva couldn’t help but see him everywhere she looked. In the corners. In the crowds. She felt him near. In the wind and in the dark.
She filled her glass and took a sip. She looked up through the glass window and thought of him again, just before they were interrupted by the toasts. She could hear his voice, “You are beautiful. What are you doing for the rest of your life?”

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