Bouwe Brouwer, NL





A Prayer


Place Real in Barcelona, a village square like there are many in Spain, rectangular, surrounded by buildings usually not more than three or four stories high, often with balconies just big enough for two chairs, a withered plant and a bottle of wine. Just off from the square’s centre there’s a dried up fountain. Groups of backpackers hang around in the shade of the few palm trees that the square hosts.

A homage to Catalonia, the book by the English writer George Orwell, taught me that during the civil war granite blocks were pulled out of this square and out of La Rambla, the wide street behind the square. These where used to build defense walls in front of the doors and windows of the buildings surrounding the street and the square - buildings occupied by the rebels.

I’m staring at the carved and worn down rocks and wonder who put them back after the war.

Kate, a girl from Australia, studies the lines in my hand carefully. She frowns. Her gaze shifts from my hands to my face and back to my hands again. “You’ve got the hands of an old man” she finally says.

I’ve turned 22 this spring and I really don’t quite know why I’ve come to Barcelona.

old city wall
faded names
of teenagers

We’re drinking coffee, Kate and i. She tells me about an American boy she met this summer in Fort William, Scotland. He was climbing Scotland’s highest mountain, Benn Nevis, on bare feet. Why on bare feet, she asked him before departure. I’m doing it for world peace, he replied. It’s a prayer.

The square is getting darker. Tourist groups scuff around searching for a terrace on which they will drink, talk, laugh, eat and maybe exchange travel stories for the next few hours. After that they will disappear, through the small streets at the sides of the square, into the night. It’s what happens here every night, all summer long. A hobo scuffs around the fountain and carefully searches through the trash the backpackers left behind.

I take a sip of my gin-tonic and study, with a feeling of lightness in my head, the palms of my hands.

old city wall
in between boulders











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