Barcelona (Sony young movellist of the year)

A coming of age novel surrounding three friends on a trip to Barcelona celebrating the departure from their childhood school lives. In the exotic surroundings of the vibrant Spanish city the trio face questions about friendship, sexuality and their unpredictable future.

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2. Chapter 2

The very air seemed to lighten once out of the artificially lit train station. In front them was the charming road on which their apartment was situated. Before heading forwards they took a moment to drink in the scene. There were lazy cafes on the street corner full of elderly gentleman drinking their weary morning coffee whilst young women walked by in high wedge shoes and colourful print maxi dresses looking like glamorous bohemians. Hanging thick like the morning dew was an atmosphere of rest and decadence. Everyone had spoken of the casual demeanour of the Spanish people to Amelia before yet she had never truly understood past the talk of siestas and late night tapas which made her feel rather unbecoming of such a place. The typical tourist view is never the one wants to remember a location by and she yearned to be able to truly explore all the intricacies of the exuberant city.

Drawn back from her thoughts Amelia decided to progress down Carrer de Manso in hopes of locating their building. After only a few steps passed a small restaurant and two residential structures they came to a large metal number four on the front of a tall, slender and somewhat Gothic apartment complex that lay compact between two other such constructions. The place had an aged mystery which came with much European architecture reminiscent of Renaissance Era. Beside the number was a heavy wooden door with, much to the disappointment of the group, no window or gap so they could sneak a view of the inside. Glancing down at her watch Amelia wondered when their landlord would arrive with the key and what this rather stern sounding man would look like.

Weakened by the journey John positioned his suitcase against the wall and sat on it precariously, watching the girls as they stared around them, wide-eyed with wonder. He avoided thoughts of feeling emasculated by Amelia’s constant control of events. The pull of gender responsibility was a pressure all too familiar to John, coming from a family of two sisters and himself possessing ambitions to enter the world of fashion. A paradox deep within him had always been there, between what he felt he should do and I what he was drawn to, yet it was moments like these he knew this thoughts needed to stay buried.

‘What time is he supposed to be here?’ He said in a tone perhaps harsher than initially intended.

Before she could answer a voice from behind them, accompanied by exhausted panting could be heard. ‘Hello. Are you Amelia?’

‘Yes, hello, nice to meet you.’ Courteously she outstretched her hand to the plump, red faced man who stood in front of her sweating profusely. Her friends followed in stiff introductions. Amelia now understood why his breathing had been heavy on the phone; the sheer size of him must mean the simple task of walking would be a massive chore.

‘Shall we get you lot out of the street then before you attract too much attention?’ He motioned to the large door and unlocked it, speaking in a tone which could not be distinguished as gently flirtatious towards the females or rather cautious. The thought of flirtation was a perverse one that she immediately discarded, while the fat man fondled the key back into his pocket and paced towards the staircase.

‘Now the one disadvantage with this place is the lack of lift, but you only have to take your suitcases up once.’ Practically grunting as he shifted his weight slowly inch by inch up the narrow stairs, Kyra stared from him, eyes shocked to John. He had little sympathy for those at a disadvantage and found the whole situation rather amusing, if a tad annoying due to the severely slow pace in which they were all diminished to but the man’s floundering. The whole group was forced as they lifted their luggage bit by bit, upwards in a rectangular spiral, through the small yet cosy building. They had surely remarked the wonderful drop in temperature from coming inside which was altogether invigorating, but nothing seemed to slow the quantity to liquid pouring out of the man in front of them.

Once on the third floor the man stopped and violently caught his breath before once again retrieving a pair of keys from the pocket of his beige shorts which clung to his monstrous thighs. But instead of opening the door with the keys, the man knocked on the whitewashed wood. The sound of hurried movement came from inside and the door opened revealing a short Asian man who beckoned him inside.

‘Wait out here a moment.’ His tone flat and formal while he slid with some difficulty through the door frame. Some muffled speech and further sounds of shifting luggage could be heard from within, until out came the former tenants of the apartment with bags in hand. The two groups of visitors exchanged polite smiles as they passed one another, Amelia and her friends now in the apartment on the invitation of the rotund landlord.

Their first glimpse of the place in which they were to spend their week of debauchery revealed the apartment to be smaller than anticipated and rather scruffy, but that could be put down to the fact that cleaning staff had not yet visited. Furnishings were functional and modern, with white and fresh bright colours to make the entire area seem light despite its current state of disarray. They were shown around the two bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom, which had a balcony next to it housing a washing machine and clothes line. The view from both balcony and windows was nothing exceptional and majorly over looked opposite buildings. Functional was the optimal adjective for the place and that suited their requirements just fine.

‘You can leave your cases in the bedroom and valuables in the safe while the cleaning staff come in. Here is the contract which I require a signature for and the amount to be paid in cash comes to a total of 500 euros.’ His greedy eyes glimmered at the thought of the large sum of money. When spoken aloud the amount did seem more real than it did on paper, all the months of careful saving and meticulous penny counting all gone in a short sentence. They reluctantly drew out their wallets and counted the amount split between the three. Due to their short comings in mathematics; this took slightly longer than the hog seemed comfortable waiting, as he started agitating and sweating once more. The crisp notes were placed in his large hands and he speedily folded it then slotted it carefully into an envelope along with the signed contract, passing them the keys he had retrieved earlier. Formalities completed everyone seemed more at ease yet with the arrival of the housekeepers the girls were eager to be alone in their rooms to change for the beach.

‘What are you three doing today then?’ The landlord remained firmly in the living room gazing with an odd expression at John. Perhaps it was curiosity about the relationship he shared between his two female companions or an artless attempt at some form of male bravado which kept him lingering.

‘I believe the ladies want to go to the beach.’ Tactful as always John replied with grace.

‘Ah.’ He snorted in reply. ‘You better be careful down there. I wouldn’t take more than you need and nothing like a camera, there are all sorts just waiting to catch tourists out on those kind of things. Also don’t go topless when you aren’t on the beach, there’s a fine for that.’ The disgusting man’s pink and chaffed mouth puckered into a smirk. John’s stance grew increasingly strained at the thought of the man’s deeper innuendos directed towards the two young women beside him.

‘We had better be getting changed for the beach.’ Amelia took the initiative in giving the landlord a soft hint towards leaving as she recognised John’s wounded male pride. Kyra on the other hand stood puzzled by the entire sequence and unaware of any form of vulgar sexual tension.

The man’s face fell slightly, potentially from catching a glimpse of his own repulsive being, and he bid then good day, turning toward the door and struggling out the way he came in. Depositions softened almost instantaneously as they shifted towards their new rooms, exploring their temporary dwelling. Kyra and Amelia were to share the room which was brighter, despite having slightly less wardrobe space, which contrasted with John’s miniature territory which was dominated by a rather lumpy pull down mattress. The larger cupboards also housed a small safe box in which they placed their most valuable belongings, jewellery, passports and the rest of their hard earned finances.

Upon depositing more important items, Kyra flung apparel from her case in search of more suggestive clothing. Fishing her bikini out, she peeled off the jeans and top she had travelled in and slipped on the skimpy red pieces. Her body was simultaneously an object of pride and devastation, as any slight change or alteration could affect her mood so ferociously sometimes she had not the effort to look at herself even briefly when she undressed. On this happy occasion Kyra seemed mildly pleased with the way the elasticated fabric clung to her figure, which was accentuated by the thin sun dress she had thrust over it. Once changed she glanced at Amelia who came out of the bathroom in a navy skirt which seemed to elongate her legs whilst the supple white stripped top drew in at the waist, creating a shape which framed her bosoms. Both girls exchanged quick smiles at their new attire, ones that suggested both approval and envy, since there is never a point in female interaction when one becomes satisfied without scrutinizing another. John strolled out in some grey shorts and a soft cotton t-shirt which emphasized his sculpted arms whilst cautiously concealing any extra accumulated weight around his abdomen.

With a quick parting flourish to the cleaning staff, Amelia opened the door and waited attentively for the others to leave. Following them down the spiral from which they had recently ascended and out into the succulent city aroma of sun with a faint floral quality from the market a few steps from their door. 

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