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Out of the Sevillian Swelter

by Jen Westmoreland Bouchard | 2010

I wake up to oppressive heat and try to focus on something familiar. My gaze travels up the mahogany wardrobe, past the glimmering spider webs in the corner of the room and settles on the off-centered, slow moving fan in the cracked ceiling.

"You okay?"

Fuck. Going to puke. Numb legs carrying me to the exit, swollen hands fumbling with the loose handle, callused toes shuffling over chipped tiles, half-flailing arm hitting the shared bathroom door...

"Scheisse! Was machst du?"

"Shit. Sorry," I say to the half-naked German who runs out of the room and, without thinking, lean over into the shower. Sick.

Mind still muddied, I travel down the hallway, attempting to remember what room he's in. I pitch the door ajar, breathing heavily, and hear him groan. Good.

I roll back onto the cot I had pushed next to his. (The online "hotel" listing read "double bed." It also failed to mention the Lucifer-friendly temperature, go figure.) He leans over, beard grazing my shoulder and plants a kiss on my collarbone. "You good?"

"No, maybe, I think so?" I catch his half-closed eyes in the slim stretch of moonlight and offer a weak smile.

"Take off your shirt."

"No, really, I can't right..."

"That's not what I meant," he laughs, hoisting himself off his cot.

Dazed, I pull my sweaty tank over my head. He goes to the sink and soaks the one towel we have and one of his t-shirts. Slowly, he lays the wet towel across my chest and the t-shirt over my forehead. Relief.

"Thank you."

"You're just overheated. You'll be fine," he says softly, setting a glass of water on the floor next to me. I drift off to sleep, covered.

* * *

The next morning we awake to voices in the square below. We get dressed, quietly, smiling at each other.

That afternoon we go to Alcazar Sevilla. We roam the grounds, sniffing flora and giggling while taking pictures next to 17th century statues. He grabs my arm and draws me toward a door marked "prohibido." I half-heartedly protest. He calls my bluff and slips through the space left open by the heavy wooden door, never letting go of my forearm. I inhale sharply as we enter the lush courtyard. He pulls me to him, eyes wet.

I didn't yet understand who he'd become to me.

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