Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NaNoWriMo - Day 3, Part 2

Sun poured in through the skylight, painting the wooden floorboards in ochre shades. Its warm rays fell on Rafael's shoulders and flared in his eyes. The acrid scent of sweat filled his nostrils as he crouched listening to the melodic twang of the berimbau, the rhythm of the atabaque, the chant of the roda. Even the sunlight seemed to dance with the music as clouds passed before it. His breath came long and slow.

He touched palms with his partner and they cartwheeled into the roda. They began slowly, in time with the music, legs seeking each other out and retreating low and high, feinting and striking. At first the movements were compact, close to the ground, full of intention and trickery. The song of the roda began to pick up speed, and they evolved with the song, standing straighter, become more aggressive. Rafael feinted left and came whirling over his partner's head with a spinning left armada, only to hurriedly throw himself towards the floor to avoid the same coming from the right. Back and forth they went, exchanging blows that never landed.

The song accelerated. So did the dance, now a whirling exchange of standing kicks and 'Au' cartwheels. Rafael could feel the wind of his partner's foot passing before his face, centimeters from striking him. They played all out now, spinning in earnest yet friendly attempts to annihilate each other. His partner threw an acrobatic series of attacks that Rafael was only abelt evade with a wrenching backwards esquiva and handstand. He paused in that inverted state ofr a moment, seeing his opponent as if reflected in water. Sweat dripped from his scalp to the floor. Then he swept in with a low hasteira, moving instantly into a high strike. The sweep hooked the other man's leg and then a violent pain shot down from his knee as he connected with the other man's neck at the same moment that he lost his balance. They fell.

Rafael felt himself hit the bed as he woke. He lay motionless, sheets twisted and soaked, leg cramped and filled with agony. The light of early dawn crashed through his open windows, illuminating the armada of dust motes drifting through the air and stabbing at his eyes. He groaned and burrowed himself deeper into the covers. His fingers crawled on the dresser until they located a bottle of pills. The confusingly screwed cap defeated his groggy attempts and he tossed it aside onto the pile of swept-aside clothes.

His body refused his best efforts to stir it form the bed. He lay in a defeated, half-conscious state for some time. The dream hung persistently in his vision, in his nostrils. Every second was clear as if it were happening at that moment. The cobwebby remnants of sleep gummed his eyes. His leg pulsed.

Finally he dragged himself from bed with a Herculean effort and propelled himself towards coffee. The steel pot stood on the stove, one-third full from yesterday. He poured the cold liquid, swirls of oil coating its surface, into a mug and added a little water for volume before sliding it into the microwave. His head fell against the door of the oven as it hummed, the vibrations running through his forehead and down to his spine. It finished and he took a sip; too hot, stale, and watery. But coffee, nonetheless. It dulled the ache in his head but not his body.

Toast seemed like too much effort so he grabbed a handful of olives and a hunk of cheese and made that his breakfast. In truth, he didn't have to be up and about for hours yet, but even such a dismal morning seemed preferable to the option of returning to sleep and all its attendant torments. The taste of the coffee became unbearable and he added a little instant to fortify the flavor. Sparked with ambition, he fried a few eggs and bolted them down. Food and caffeine had restored some strength. His spirit still flagged. The temptation to simply fold himself in front of a screen and waste the morning tugged at him, but he fought back. For a while he picked desultory tunes on the guitar, but the strings strummed dissonantly and he couldn't find the will to tune it.

He turned to exercise to stem the ennui that threatened to drain him, leave him lifeless as if the victim of a vampire. Push-ups, sit-ups, weights, repeated over and over until the muscles shook and the tendons quivered like untied lines snapping in the wind. It was pain, but a good one that somehow made the other more bearable. At last he finished, collapsed, panting on the cold wood of his floor. Sweat dripped down into the small of his back and pooled beneath him. For a few moments, he felt decent and alive.

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