“Aye, Adrianna keep your back straight! Por Dios! Adrianna, we have a show tonight, you have to be on top of this! Tonight is the grand finale to our tour and I cannot have you mess this up for me!” Jose kept on shouting at me as I tried to concentrate and regain my balance on the swinging bars across of me. The trapeze bars were rocking back and forth, in a slow monotone rhythm. I scrunched my eyebrows together feeling the tension building up as I was about to snatch one and continue my routine. Jose had finally given up on me and was slowly walking off to Marisela, muttering under his breath, as he always did. Jose is never usually such a pain, but he always gets nervous on the night of a show and just has to spread his worriedness and obnoxiousness around like a virus so the other performers feel the pressure and work even harder on their performances. I sighed and finally caught one of the trapeze bars.
“Adrianna, this is what you are meant for, jump and don’t look back.” My mother's words echoed in my brain, they were imprinted there so I would never lose my nerve. I gripped tighter onto the white powdered bar, my knuckles turning white and I felt the tension and excitement building up in me, then I looked around the dusty empty seats in the circus tent, I was ready. I looked forward re-ran my routine in my head.
“Swing forward, tuck feet in, spin, place legs on top of the bar, stay upside down, smile, wave, climb back up then swing onto other trapeze and perfectly land on the other side. Not too much.” I then pushed off the podium and just jumped, not looking back.
“Adrianna do not come late, we need to do dress rehearsal, makeup, and hair!” hollered Marisela as I was making my way down the cobbled roads of Barcelona.
“I’ll be here, no worries. Adios!” I hollered back and eventually started skipping to my favorite place. Alejandro’s Mundo de Fantasia, possibly on of the best bookstores in Barcelona. Alejandro was an old fragile man, very wise and certainly one of the most interesting human beings you could ever meet, on my way I would usually quietly walk through the group of students. I always have wanted to go to school, but my parents never had enough pesetas to enter me and my four siblings, but it doesn’t matter anymore, they are all gone and school is the least of my worries. I slowly walked past them, eyeing their bags filled with knowledge and books as they laughed in unison and then I walked in loneliness to reach Alejandro's bookstore.
The bell ringed as I gently pushed the dusty creaky door to reveal shelves of different sizes, patterns, and colors of books, my eyes gleamed as I glared over to the colorful shelves surrounding the room.
“Perdon, but where is Don Alejandro?” I raised on my tiptoes over the counter in which a young gentleman sat reading a parchment paper.
“Don Alejandro is not here, he had errands to do. Who is it that asks?” he eyed me down, as his giant glass lenses reflected the sun from the window, making his stare more menacing.
“I’m Adrianna Rosa, a friend of Don Alejandro.” I calmly replied gathering courage from the gentleman’s stare. He had a quick raise of his left eyebrow and then a smile crept along his face.
“Ah, you are the Adrianna that Don Alejandro mentioned, he told me you would be coming by, he gave me a message to give to you. He wants you to know that today’s story is going to be the final one. The bookstore is closing down and he wanted to give you this as well.” The gentleman handed a book wrapped up in an old cloth, dusty and grimace, but the book inside was well intact and surprisingly well taken care of.
“The bookstore is closing? But how can this be, Don Alejandro told me everything was going alright and that-”I trailed off, shaking now. Tears were coiling up into my eyes, my throat tightened up and my hands had turned cold. The bookstore was the only thing besides trapeze that did not make me feel alone, that made me feel as though I was as normal as any child possible. I needed the bookstore to not feel lonely ever again.
“Well, Don Alejandro is one big mentiroso, he was going bankrupt and good thing he sold this dump, it’s practically falling apart.” The snob gentleman replied back. He was grinning at his hands, “the bank officers will be coming today to get this place cleaned up, maybe even burn some of the books. Rumor has it that there was witchery going on in this bookstore, that nothing good came out of it and that Don Alejandro was hiding many valuable objects here.” He sighed and then handed over the book and went back to reading the parchment.
I was baffled with all this new information, witchery and valuable objects? What could Don Alejandro ever be hiding in this tiny bookstore? I took the book and ran outside heading for Placa Catalunya. As I was running my eye faucets turned on and tears started trickling down my red hot cheeks, I stopped in an alleyway to catch my breath before I started choking and just slowly slid on the side of the brick walls. I sat on the cobbled ground and just cried. I was once more alone again.
It was 6 o’clock and I was making my way to my caravan to reach “El Circo de Los Suenos” tent and get ready for my performance. I finally reached my caravan and threw the book across from me and plopped down on my chair. I looked in the mirror to only find myself looking back. I was quite buff for a 15-year-old, my hair was brown and murky and my eyes were watery blue such as the Mediterranean Sea. I sighed,
“Aye, I need to fix myself before Marisela comes in and makes me look like a clown again” I grabbed the wet cloth and starting cooling down my red cheeks.
I thought about Don Alejandro and our adventures in the stories we read, but now it seemed all that had vanished in just distant, painful memories. I stopped and skimmed around to find the book I had tossed across the caravan, and walked towards it and sat on the floor to open it up. As I did so the cover was hard and rough in the color of murky green, inside; well, inside it was just white pages. My eyes surprisingly got bigger from the surprise and confusion until a note slipped out. I picked it up and it read:
“For my Dear Adriana,
My sweet little niña, I have watched you grow since your parents brought you here as a child. I remember as a toddler you were so quiet and curious about the world of literature, you were also very inquisitive, as I recall. But I wanted you to know that I love you very much, I practically raised you as my own hija and all I ever wanted was to be there for you after your parents unfortunately and unrightfully passed away leaving you all alone. Mi hija, now that you have grown I can finally tell you the truth about my identity, but I’m too afraid they will find out and track you down. I don’t have much time, but this book contains all the secrets and information you need to know about the magical basis of an Alchemist. Be careful hija and do not let anyone see this book. I love you so dearly
Love, Alejandro de Torres”
I reread through the letter a couple of times, holding back my tears. I turned the letter and it read:
“Not everything is visible with the human eye hija, think about the special lesson we had on “invisible words”.”
I eyed the note laid it beside the empty page book. Then I heard a satisfying click in my mind as I quickly ran outside to the caravan where we would do all the cooking and poured water into a nearby bucket and placed it on top of the stove. Steam came rolling in fumes as the water was boiling, then I put a lid on top of it and carefully ran off back to my caravan.
I placed a page of the book near the steam as the words and symbols started to appear on the once blank page. “Invisible ink. Smart.” I smiled and looked down and read,
“Basis of Alchemy: Becoming a Young Alchemist” this was the book Don Alejandro was talking about. Alchemy was not a talked topic among people of Barcelona, sometimes it would be considered illegal and Los Guardias Reales would arrest you and send you to a prison far far away. Suddenly I heard a loud pitched scream and then more screams roaming around. I ran outside of my caravan to find that the circus tent was engulfed by raging flames, and it was all my fault.
The Last Alchemist: The Beginnings
March 7, 2017