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The Barcelona Review

Author Bio

image - candlesALISON WELLFORD

Last Words


You are on your way to work. The kiosks sell copies of El Pais and Hola, chewing gum, postcards, key rings. Some kiosks bloom with flowers, the scent you can catch for a moment in the humid air as the tourists push their way past you down the Rambla. You think about the next deadline, the next dinner, the bills you must pay, the wine you had last night. The sun makes it a little hard to breathe. Your bag slaps against your side like a heart beat. The Thames runs slowly under your feet. The London Bridge spans the space of what could be two cities, the city that seems to have no end. You think of deadlines, dinner, the bills you must pay, the laundry you must do. You will meet your lover tonight, or your partner, your best friend, your daughter. You will look into the eyes of the one you love. You give the ticket vendor the ticket you paid for with money you’ve saved. You think about the next dinner, the bills you must pay as you hand over the ticket to the show. The crowds move slowly into the arena. Snow falls along the red and white striped roofs. Candy canes hang from brightly lit trees. You blow hot, moist air into your wooly gloves. The smell of mulled wine fills the evening at the market in Breitscheidplatz. It’s Bastille Day, and you watch as the fireworks linger green and blue above the Promenade des Anglais.
      The first thing you notice might be the sound of impact or a flash of white in your periphery, or maybe it's the screams that shock you. A little girl’s open mouth. You can’t hear the sound. She lies on the street as the crowds scatter. There is nothing but noise. You don’t know where to run, but you run. Your breath is sharp. You follow the person next to you or you hide under a table or you fall to your knees. Impact is quick. You see the flash of metal or you hear the shots. You see the faces of the men. There is no mercy. The police are not there. There is no way out. The dead are among you. You see their bodies— the girl buying flowers, the man on the bicycle, the dancing crowds, an elderly couple. The van heads toward you. The lorry heads toward you. The gun points at you. The bomb shrapnel hurtles toward you. The city spins, and the pain makes its way through in a single, rushing wave, and you think of something impossible that you would never have dreamed would be your last thought, but it’s written on the side of the building as you fall, it’s written on the side of the van, it’s written there as a message you carry with you wherever it is you will be going next, not the next dinner, not the bills you must pay, not the next deadline. The music no longer plays. The flowers at the kiosk scatter the ground.
      We cover the pavement in flowers. We cover the graves in flowers. We cover the streets with candles. We cover our hearts with blood.

© Alison Wellford 2017

The Barcelona Review is a registered non-profit organization

Author Bio

Alison WellfordAlison Wellford is assistant professor of writing and internal director of the Pan-European MFA in Creative Writing at Cedar Crest College. Her work has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, among other journals, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She published the novel, Indolence, and wrote the screenplay adaptation that has been optioned to be made into a film.