Thursday, September 14, 2006

Seville Summer

Once again, Hyperion has asked me to write a story with him. Well, not WITH him, exactly, more like in parallel with him. Neither of us knows what the other one is writing, much like the activities at

This is how it workd out last time; this time I got to pick the picture. I also stuck to the sub-500-word format like we did last time.

His story is HERE. Mine is below. I hope you enjoy both.


Ah, the hot sweaty nights in Spain were some of the best of my life. To be young and free in one of the great cities of the world is a gift. If I had only known then what I know now, I would have made so much more use of that time in Seville.

I worked as a lady's companion. My lady was removed from the city for the space of a few months, and did not need my services. She released me for the summer with enough to live on and a promise to call me back to her palacio at harvest time.

In those days the great cathedral was like new, and people said that the Alcazar was almost finished. I would walk with the Sevillanos and Sevillanas along the Guadalquivir or through the plaza, watching people, soaking up the strong scents from the Moorish shops and Greek's houses, nibbling a bit of mantecado. Bright bolts of cloth in the draper's windows, hams and joints hanging in the butcher's stalls, long loaves of bread being whisked from the bakeries to the great houses, the bankers with their scales clinking gold and silver, offering the promise of riches in exchange for a little interest - what a wonderful place, so alive.

The port was always busy bringing in curiosities and necessities. So many languages tumbled over one another in the quay-side tavernas and hostels. Big rough men walked unsteadily down the gangways of the groaning creaking ships, looking for women and ale. I liked to see the passengers, with their strange fashions and their eagerness to be back on land. Not everyone has the stomach for the sea, you know, and sometimes the ladies would almost trip over their skirts in their haste to be back on dry land. It struck me that, more often than not, the men looked sad to be coming off the boats. Strange how the sexes behave.

My lover at the time was a smith, an enormous man with hairy strong arms and a wide back, who would sweep me up aginst him and twirl me around until we were both dizzy. That long hot summer we explored one another all over Seville. The back alley doorways fit us, and the tavernas offered privacy for a small sum. He knew how to treat a woman, of that there could be no doubt. We grew into love, and once my lady returned he was to ask her for my hand. My heart was full, I could taste joy and see a future.

Hot nights, big city, business and bustle, festas and processions, moist air perfumed with the scent of bitter orange, the thrust and push of bodies in the night. Oh, to be young in Seville again. To be ignorant of what I know now.

To have that summer of 1649 over again, before the plague came and took half the city away.

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