The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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This memory took place back in Spain, where my mom used to help work at her dad's bar along with her sister. The bar was very old at the time of this memory, so there were a lot of issues that led to many arguments among her family. My mom had many stories of the bar, so when interviewing her it was a very intriguing experience to just listen to her many stories with her sisters.

Benidorm, Spain, 1983. Summer, boiling hot and humid. Mercedes and her sister, Marta, have been working in their father’s bar as they’d been doing their whole lives. The former was taking classes in sewing and had been thinking about a design she would make for herself that night when suddenly the latter started yelling:

“When are you going to get a new AC?!”

            The unit in question had been there for years, and weakly puttered in a small radius, hardly cooling anything at all. It was small, obtrusive, unhelpful, and yet it droned on competing with the TV broadcast of soccer as if it held more importance than it deserved. Their father, Manolo grumbled,

“I’ll replace it soon.”

            He had been saying this for years now. This summer was in-between point in the lives of the two sisters. Mercedes had taken a break from school and was helping at the family bar while taking classes. The work would often consist of making tapas for customers. Slicing giant chunks of fish, leaving a stench that would last for days, or the heavy lifting of potatoes to cook. While work itself was easy, what was hard for Mercedes was the people, drunk, loud, day and night.

            Marta was the opposite. She was much more of a people-person, and saw drunkards as no issue. Loud, authoritative, she could handle whoever walked in. Marta had been studying law around this time in another city, but it was becoming increasingly clear she wouldn’t last much longer there. The people may have been easy, but the schoolwork was getting further and further ahead of her, and frustration only continued to boil over in that summer of 1983.

“You’ve been saying that for years now!”

Mercedes twiddled her hands, wishing needles and thread were there instead of the dead rabbit being prepared for customers who weren’t there yet.  Usually one sister would work during the day, one at night, but for whatever reason they were both needed on this particular day. The few times they got off at the same time, Marta would tell Mercedes stories. Stories involving something only Marta had: a sixth sense. Their entire lives, it seemed as though only Marta would see these things: ghosts moving objects when she wasn’t looking, a deceased friend in the hallway, a scary voice talking in an elevator. Not all of these encounters were frightening, but each one was memorable. Mercedes knew there was just something different about her, and it scared her but left her in awe.

“I’ve been too busy, I’ll get one later”

“Do you see anyone here right now?!”

Silence. Chopping in the kitchen. Soccer commentary.

“…PAPA, IT’S TOO HOT IN HERE, JUST REPLACE IT ALREADY.”

CLANG.

With not a soul near it, not a movement or tremor, the AC had malfunctioned, sending its previously weak fan flying and the unit to the floor. Silence.

The very next day, a quiet, state-of-the art fan hummed and cooled quietly, while the game went on.

The Old AC Unit

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1983
Benidorm, Spain

This memory took place back in Spain, where my mom used to help work at her dad's bar along with her sister. The bar was very old at the time of this memory, so there were a lot of issues that led to many arguments among her family. My mom had many stories of the bar, so when interviewing her it was a very intriguing experience to just listen to her many stories with her sisters.

Decade: 1980s
Rating:
Recorded by Andres Parada on June 2, 2020
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