The Scars on My Wrists (Nanowrimo 2013)

After struggling with depression and a suicide attempt, Marie decides to take a Gap Year to Italy and Spain. She falls in love, and more importantly, changes her entire life.
Edited for movellas, in its poorly written state. R rated for lots of swearing, cutting, and sexual language. TW: (recollection of) sexual assault, cutting

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6. Chapter 6

I wandered through the gardens of the Palacio, feeling lost like Alice in Wonderland. I hesitated to glance at a sculpted shrubbery. How did they manage to shape the leaves and shape just so? Through a guiding hand? Or through bulling and slicing and cutting? I shook my head. It was just a bush, no need to get so worked up about it. And it looked beautiful too. The flowers were beginning to die in the crisp autumn air, and instead of a uniform green like the pictures in the brochure, the trees were yellow and orange and turning red, like a  rainbow against the deep blue sky. 

    The palacio peeked out from behind this backdrop, a white contrast with elaborate architecture. I was in love with this Spain, this haven from the dirt of the Madrid metro and sidewalks. Here time froze and rewound. I was proud of myself for having stepped out of my comfort zone to travel here, and this justified every small grievance accumulated so far.

    "Me gusta el palacio mucho," I said, smiling gratefully at my host parents. "Thank you for bringing me here."

    "De nada," winked Mama. She was wearing a hat, and her cherub nose was turning pink in the cold morning air. I found myself envious of her grace and beauty. My mother at home dressed in frumpy pants and oversized sweaters, but this host mother was stylish in boots and jeans and a black fitted coat. Immediately I felt bad. While my own mother might not try as hard to look in vogue, she far made up with it with kindness. In that, she was equal to my host mother, and wasn't all that mattered?    

    I studied the structure of the palacio itself. I almost wished I could draw so I could capture its image and commit it to paper. But I couldn't so I settled for photography, capturing the angles of the buildings and the colors of the trees with my lens. 

    The inside was even more stunningly beautiful. Lavish filigree and flourishes dominated every room. I had never seen anything like it before. I found myself peering up at the ceilings, hidden treasures painted and molded into shapes of every size. Curiouser and curiouser. A chandelier of crystal here, like some sort of natural stalagmite jutting out of the ceiling. A hallway of windows, painting light on the stone floor and paneled walls. It was like the pictures of the textbook from AP Euro, only now I was seeing it in person, so much larger and three dimensional and colorful than its inkjet counterparts.

    Oh, without a doubt I was in love. I wandered down every corridor and peered in every nook and cranny of the building. And after, when we sat in a nearby cafe, drinking coffee, all I could think about was that the beauty that I had seen just now had been created in the seventeen-hundreds. Years and years ago. And it still stood, despite the time and elements battering the exterior. It was built to stand. As was I. I would stand, tall and true like the palacio. 

    The paella was large and intimidating. Caroline hadn't been joking when she'd mentioned that lunch was huge here, because it was. The rice platter stretched across the table and a forlorn prawn or shrimp, I couldn't tell which, stared into my face. His little antennas looked sad and drooped with the red heat coloring the rest of it's body. Shuddering slightly, I opted for the clams and mussels only, moving my spoon around the sad-looking camarones. I felt bad for them. For some reason, I didn't like eating anything with a face. I finished, patting my food-baby, satisfied.

    "Helado?" asked Mama. I nodded, eagerly, and we stepped into a nearby shop after paying. 

    "Dulce de leche?" I asked, reading the ice cream name tags and eying the yellowish tub. What the hell was a sweet milk flavor? I wished they had an english translation, like "Hi My Name is Mint Chocolate Chip". 

    "Si, es mi sabor favorite," smiled Mama. It was her favorite flavor? Then it couldn't be too gross. I opted for a cone of the mystery flavor, and to my surprise, was greeted with an explosion caramel. My eyes must have widened, because Mama laughed, and pointed and said something to my host father.

    "Es muy delicioso," I explained, laughing. Definitely not what I had expected. I'd expected some weird sweet frozen milk concoction, nasty like curdled cream, and the golden cream color hadn't helped either. The ice cream was lighter than what I was used to in the USA. Maybe there was more air in it, like gelato. Either way, I finished my cone too fast like a kid at his first ice cream truck and reluctantly wished I could get seconds.

    I was adventurous. I was spontaneous. I felt an inner sense of pride for going out into this foreign, bustling city to explore. Knowing my bad habits, it was easy for me to hide away and stay indoors, afraid of what could happen. But here I was, stepping out with my host family, with almost no verbal Spanish ability under my belt. I remembered the Alchemist, saying that underneath everything was a universal language, the language of the heart. And despite our language barrier, that was how I was connecting with my host family. Through my heart, gestures, eyes, tones, and broken speech.

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