began in issue 122.
Chapter 4 appears
in this issue.
Chapter 5: Not Together Now
A tall, slim teenager with long fair hair emerged from the cool interior of the Bilbao Conservatorio into the heat and brilliance of a beautiful spring afternoon. She turned at the first corner and, encumbered as always by her bulky cello case and a large canvas bag, she made her halting way down Colón de Larreategui like a pretty flamingo with a wooden leg.
Arriving at last at Bar La Masia, she gratefully took the weight of the case off her shoulder, trundled it inside, and flopped down at the nearest table.
She forced a breathless smile, and as usual her green eyes flashed.
She’s meeting that boy again, the owner thought, as he returned her greeting and immediately began to prime the espresso machine.
‘And some olives please ... I’m starving!’
‘Don’t you ever eat anything else, Paula? Look — we’ve just made a beautiful cherry tart ...’
‘Stop it, Alberto! You know I hardly eat during the day! Anyway,’ she intoned gravely, ‘my body is a temple ...’
‘It will end up a very meagre temple if you carry on like this!’
‘Albi ...’ she cautioned.
‘Well ... I don’t know. Where do you get the energy to do all those aerobics every evening?’
‘Maybe you should try it yourself, hombre,’ she countered, staring pointedly at his ample belly. ‘Anyway, where’s that coffee? I’m parched. You’d better make sure there’s a beer in the cooler, too ...’
* * *
She had gone very quiet. Alberto had never seen her like that. But the boy had still not arrived, and that was unusual too. There was another plate of olives ready and waiting for them, and he had made sure the beer was nice and cold ...
He busied himself behind the quiet bar, surprised at the growing concern he was feeling for her. It was the look on her face; it suggested far more than mere annoyance or disappointment at her friend’s lateness.
She had finally stopped pretending to read her lecture notes and was presumably trying to phone him. An immediate look of disgust. Obviously: “The mobile phone you are calling is switched off”. She was trying another number now. Ah, this time it must be ringing for her ... and ringing, and ringing. Nobody at home. He felt compelled to sympathise.
‘Is everything OK, señorita?’
‘Yes, Alberto ... yes, thank you, I’m fine.’
A bad liar.
‘Some more olives?’
‘No, thank you. I must go. I have a lot to do. If Toni turns up ...’
‘No, it doesn’t matter. I’m sure he’ll call me soon. Hasta luego, Alberto.’
‘Hasta luego, señorita.’
To be continued ...