He was careful to prop open the door with one of the discarded boots. He didn’t want to get trapped out on the roof again, no matter how much he wanted to stay there. He stopped for a moment and stood between the ocean and vermillion blankets that stretched across the patio on thin white rope. They danced with the wind like formless marionettes.
He pulled the red and blue curtains aside to reveal a small set of tile stairs that rose five steps to a metal gate and wondered what was beyond. He had to duck through the metal threshold, but once he was out, he stopped. He breathed free for the first time.
The city of Xela lay out at his feet. He could jump from one rooftop to the next if he wanted to; from stucco to steel to crumbling tile as old as independence.
The breeze was flowing from the mountains to the north. That’s where the air was born. It cascaded down the dome of the cathedral and flooded the narrow cobbled streets and was still.
He breathed. The Xela air was cold and ancient. It was sweet with the nectar of community; it was bitter with the blood of slaves.
Here, he could stop and forget his other life. Relationships, jobs, rent checks and milk souring in the refrigerator — all were as distant as the moon. All that was present was a body, a soul and the shroud of the wind.
“I am not preoccupied by time,” the Maya leader had said. He thought he almost understood.
He had expected time to stand still here, like a clock perpetually frozen at 4:37, but time rushed on here, inexorably into the 21st century. No one here was afraid. Everything changes — life is change.
Beyond the cathedral, a cell phone tower grew among the trees, as if it had always been part of the grove. Car horns blared and pigeons clustered on window ledges and eyed the human with suspicion.
He closed his eyes for a moment to hear the birdsong and the streetsong of Xela. His heart felt the song and it was not wrong. He felt connection to and respect for all of life, if only for an instant.
For a fleeting second, he felt Maya.
— 30 —
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