This story can only be found bundled with the Erotic Novella “The Personal Trainer”
It is half past five in the morning. The sky is a haze of half grey, curiously illuminated. Under a canopy of wrought iron the fish market is setting up. The street shutters are painted blue and orange. He is tall and she only a little less so. His dark hair is slicked back cruelly from his forehead, above eyes that are cool and grey. His wide mouth, whose smile spells sensuality, is down turned in disappointment. She dances at his heels. They pass another couple quarreling.
There is something familiar in the shape of the argumentative man’s head, distracting him momentarily. “It seems as though the whole world is quarreling today,” he sighs. “Not just us.”
“Can’t you understand that I am too tired to climb some damned mountain at five in the morning,” she says shrilly, “just in the hope of seeing an exceptional sunrise?”
He looks at her with a frown, shocked, as always, by the philistine in her. But she doesn’t notice.
“You always were impossible, and selfish,” she continues. “Yesterday, we walked all round Madrid in the midday heat, which was your idea; we stood up all night on the train without a seat, and now you want to go for a walk, rather than find our hotel?” The look in her eyes is close to hatred.
“But it is almost dawn and still cool enough to climb,” he pleads gently. “The view of the town and the bay will be spectacular, breathtaking. God knows, we only have one night here. And you can rest as much as you want later on. By this time tomorrow morning we will be back on the train. And it could be years before we return.” He scans the lines of her face for some sign of relenting good humor. “Couldn’t you just make the effort?” But she is closed off.
The Spanish fishermen and traders watch them knowingly, warily, their impassive features hinting part sympathy, part contempt. The fish pass through their flat, bronzed hands in flashes of color, the turquoise of a fin, the rose pink underside of an octopus. Bouffant heads of carnation form mini hedgerows, dividing the stalls and their produce. This is a different aesthetic, he thinks to himself, this is Lorca country. The land where hatred and beauty and love form an eternal triangle. “Perhaps it is fitting for us to quarrel against such a backdrop of emotion and color?” he says.
“How pretentious,” she replies.
He glances down at his wife’s tight features. She is almost unrecognizable. He abandons the argument. “I’ll go on my own,” he states baldly, trying to conceal his disappointment; he feels that touristic pleasures ought to be shared. “Which would you prefer,” he asks, resorting to chivalry, “to go and find the hotel now on your own? It is too early to check in. Our room won’t be vacant until midday, but we could leave the luggage there. Or shall we find a cafe where you can wait for me, have some breakfast, a tortilla jamon?”
She looks up at his handsome head, all its normal charm dissipated in strain. His eyes are pale, too pale, no feeling animates them. His formality and politeness are a bad sign. “How long will you be?”
He glances away. He can just make out the distant silhouette of the statue of Christ on Monte Urgull, one arm outstretched in benediction. “Difficult to say exactly.” The early morning heat is still burning off the cool moisture from the night before. There is a haze in the air. Distances are deceptive. “One hour, two at the most,” he hazards.
“You always were a bore,” she says.
He looks at her coolly, assessing her in terms of distances too. “Maybe,” he replies uncertainly. He is hurt by her insult and attempts to explain. “This something I have always dreamed of doing.”
She shrugs. “Very well. Let’s find a cafe. I’ll wait for you there and then go to the hotel if I get fed up.”
“Won’t you change your mind and come with me?” he pleads, his mood softening.
“No chance,” she replies. “I don’t know how you even dare ask after the night we’ve spent.”
He tries to smile. Perhaps she is right? Maybe his demands are too many? His stamina is greater than hers. He frowns, but guilt does not sit easily with him.
They choose a cafe on a street corner midway between the fish market and the near end of the bay. Its chairs are glossy wicker structures, interwoven with strands of bright red and green, the tables fat, menthol-green circles of glass. She sits down, fussily trying to arrange her luggage neatly around her. The waiter appears, his body as flexible as a toreador’s, his features immune to charm.