Amelia hears the music. Then she feels the melody. She drifts from her childhood home, her feet skipping over the cobblestone street.
She sees him – his eyes, mulberry black.
The guitarist’s fixed gaze roots her. His fingers clasp the guitar’s carved stem as his other hand strokes its strings. Occasionally he lowers his head and whispers – or coaxes, it seems – the song within.
Nearby, the women are unrestrained dark exotic birds in flaming red skirts, caramelized skin, and unbound hair. Their skirts lift and twirl as their rhythmic feet pound and hammer ceaselessly an ardent tap tap tap upon the stones. And he strums in a reverie marked only by sound and song. Their beautiful ancient palmas, cantos and pitos warm the falling snow, they warm her skin.
Townspeople slowly gather: stones held tight in clenched fists, puritanical faces twisted in disgust. They attack and attack what they can’t, what they don’t, understand. Her father joins, and he too throws stones – their cold voices shrill and fractured against the dying palmas, cantos and pitos.
They trample the song from the guitar, his fingers crush beneath the weight of their boots, the carved stem snaps in two – the attack: pounds and hammers ceaselessly – the skirts tatter crimson on the stones she knows her father once laid.
Song gives way to cries. Music is not a shelter against a blow.
By the tender candle light, young Amelia unbraids her auburn hair, and in her flaxen fingers, every tendril submits. Nearby, her father cleans his soiled boots.
Up the cobblestone path, snow hardens to ice. Silence disquiets tender light.
It disturbs everything.