I did my “rounds” turning off lights and locking doors before crawling into bed next to Donna, who was already fast asleep. We’d been busy the past few days exploring the surrounding coves, enjoying bounties from the local farmers market, and eating great food like squid ink paella. Occasionally, Carmen would stop by and remind us not to flush towels down the toilet or use decorative vases for pitchers – things we never thought of doing, but our predecessors must have done. She meant well and was always pleasant enough, but I was beginning to cringe every time I heard her knock at the door.
Droplets of rain lightly tapped against our bedroom window. I thought about closing the curtain for privacy then realized that other than Carmen and Piero, we hadn’t seen anybody. It seemed we had the entire apartment building to ourselves. The rhythm of the rain made my eyelids seem heavy. I dropped my book, turned off my lamp and buried my head in the soft cotton pillow.
* * *
I awoke to the sound of bare feet on the tile floor next to my bed. I lifted my head into the pitch darkness.
“Dad!” Jill whispered. “Somebody is in the apartment next to us.”
The red numbers on the alarm clock read 3:06. My heart began pounding. “What?”
“Somebody is chanting.”
It had been years since Jill woke me in the middle of the night like this.
“It sounds like somebody in high heels is dancing. I think it’s a witch!”
My mind quickly and desperately searched for the comfort of a logical explanation for this, but nothing came.
I got up and used my hands to navigate along the hallway. Jill walked close behind me. I found the bathroom door then reached inside and flipped the switched. Enough light was cast into the living room to confirm that two sleeping boys were the only ones there.
“There it is.” Jill whispered
I moved toward the wall and sure enough, heard a slightly muffled systematic tapping that indeed sounded like a spiked heel dancing on ceramic tile. Would someone break into an empty apartment to practice some sort of ritual?
Alex’s snoring was the only other sound
After a moment, I realized the tapping wasn’t coming from the wall, but from the patio outside our sliding door.
“What is it?” Jill asked as I walked toward the sliding door. As I got closer, I heard another eerie sound – like somebody humming into an empty wrapping paper tube.
“I’m not quite sure” I slowly pulled the curtains aside, but only saw darkness outside. I reached over to the light switch and hesitated a moment, God only knows what might be illuminated out on that patio. Would I see something that might give me a heart attack right in front of my daughter? What the hell. I flipped on the porch light to see raindrops dancing on the slate patio and nothing more. I unlocked the door and slid it open. The sound was clearer. I stuck my head out and looked around.
“What is it?”
“There” I pointed toward the wall separating the neighboring patio from ours. Water dripped from the roof onto the adobe tiles of the wall. “That is making the tapping sound.”
I stepped out onto the cold patio tiles and realized the other sound was coming from above me. An extra-wide terra cotta rain gutter extended along the eves. It must have carried water for the entire roof. “Check this out Sis, the water flowing through makes the chanting noise.”
She smiled. We shared the wonderful feeling of waking up safely from a nightmare. We came back inside and sat down at the table.
“Sorry I woke you up Dad.”
“I don’t mind. This is kind of cool.”
She shook her head and laughed. “Dancing witch.”
“Our imaginations can make up some pretty wild stuff, huh?”
She nodded just as Alex belted out a snore. We shared a stifled laugh.
“Fear comes in all shapes and sizes.” I admitted to her how I didn’t want to take this trip, because when it came right down to it, I was afraid. I didn’t want to come to Spain, worried that we’d be traveling in a perpetual state of fear and that my teeth would be chattering the entire time. It hadn’t been anything like that.
For a change, I didn’t feel the need to give my daughter one of those cheesy speeches about facing your fears. Heck, she was seeing if for herself.
I pointed upward. “I’m pretty sure God doesn’t expect us to be afraid.” I told her that some people feel closer to God when they congregate with others at a church. Others feel satisfied with a one-on-one relationship with God. I told her about my experience seeing the Black Madonna at Montserrat, and thought it may have been God’s way of telling me we were doing something right.
“Dad, do you think God wanted us to take this trip?”
I looked at her. “Absolutely. This is Mom’s dream
“I know that.” She said, pulling her chair forward. “But is there another reason we’re here, something, you know – bigger?”
NEXT: Without Reservation