Venetian night

One night, Felipe could not sleep. He stared at the high ceiling, a chill sliding down the walls until it reached his spine. He had the sensation that the room was filled with mist, gelid clouds slipping down his body. The curtains waved in the wind like the cupped hands of a woman offering him a taste of night. But there was no woman there. He shivered under the heavy blanket, his sweat was as chilly as the blind water from a deep well. He got up, his feet were stiff, his legs moved with difficulty until they could adapt themselves to the heat that slowly reached their muscles. He shut the window still watching, from the pane of glass, the drunk on the sidewalk, shrouded in the mist that was gradually disappearing; his pale chest, his stony expression. Nothing moved in that man’s body or face, only his eyes pointed at upwards, at the emptiness. And the old window seemed to frame the statue of a saint. But he was not a saint. Sometimes, he took the bottle, drank a sip of wine, and Felipe could sense the alcohol reddening the man’s face. But the drunk remained pale, gazing at the mist, waiting for the ghost woman to come into view.

 Felipe went out, passed by the drunk, the anguished expression on the man’s face opressed the night. In the air, not a perfume, just the smell of the stones and the canal waters; in the gloom, not a colour, just the wet gray, variation of the black.

 “She went that way!”, the man cried, pointing at an arch in front that led to the Piazza San Marco. Felipe did not even look at him, just hid his face in his coat and continued walking, only his own footsteps sounding in the empty street. The drunk stood silent now. Felipe did not turn to look back, he was afraid of what he could see, but he knew there was nobody behind him, not a shadow on the bridge.

 He stepped in the arch, where not even the mist penetrated. It was the night bed. He could hear the sound of water leaking but those stones released no sound. He just felt them cold when he touched them. And he was afraid that he had entered his own tomb from which he would never get away. Then, he saw a light gleaming at the end of the arch, lost in the mist. It moved slowly, leading him to a state of hypnosis. And around the fluctuating halo, the mist was coming and going, and a woman’s brown hair stood out, in plaits that curled over the nape of her slender neck. She turned towards him, but he could not discern her features, only an outline of her face, suggesting an exceptional beauty. And, next, she disappeared in the darkness.

 

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