We are on our way home.
We have had a week away in this capital city in the sun.
Me, a break from the stresses of work. 'Him', a break out from the prison that is the four walls of home.
Not that we have been idle for our relaxation.
We have had my exercise for the year, pushing his wheelchair around the streets, remembering the topography from past visits to avoid the steepest hills. Using the buses with their access ramps. Using the spatial awareness of an air traffic controller to find the lifts in the Metro.
We have exorcised our culture demons with theatre, ballet and museums.
Museums for History, Museums for Archaeology, Museums for Science. The Naval Museum with the handsome rating on security.
And Museums for Art. Where art has a capital 'A', and the modern stuff has a capital 'F'.
All food for the soul.
But now it is time to go home.
Already the week's therapy is wearing off. The hassle of packing, the argument with the cab driver about loading the 'chair in the car, luggage trolley, cases, lifts, the mass of humanity in Departures to whom we are invisible, Check-In, Assistance Desk, Security - especially Security, the non duty free 'Duty Free', loos, food and drink for the plane.
Eventually we make it to the gate area and I find a seat. I close my eyes, willing my heart back into a normal steady rhythm.
My best commuter's doze is interrupted by a sharp rap on the shin. 'He' has twisted in the chair and caught me with the footrest. Irritated, I am ready to call him on his carelessness, but as I look to his face, I see him intent on some action across the room. I follow that gaze.
I see 'he' is enjoying the view. A group of young men are milling about a pile of backpacks. The eldest maybe eighteen, the youngest twelve-thirteen. They are well behaved. Although clearly there is much banter among the group, there is no rowdiness. They are dressed in uniform track suits. My guess is gymnasts and I think 'he' would agree. There is a certain attractiveness to gymnasts. Is it that air of disciplined and determined self-confidence?
A bearded man in sandals calls and the group moves off leaving one of the younger ones in charge of the bags. I had not noticed him before and briefly wonder if he is actually one of the team. He wears no track top, just a white singlet.
I adjust my posture to better focus and so I see his beauty. There is no other word for it. He is the statues from the galleries made flesh. They are but a poor imitation of this real thing.
I am transfixed, as blind to all else, I drink deeply of that beauty. There is no possessive emotion or desire, only enjoyment of the vision that cleanses and calms my heart.
The flight is called. My reverie is broken and I realise I have been staring at the boy. He is looking back at me, a slightly quizzical look on his face. I see he sees no threat.
But there is no doubting the feeling that I have been assessed. As I have drunk of him so he has seen into the lowest depths of my soul.
"Talbot! Bring the bags!"
The shout from the bearded man is accompanied by the return of some of the team to help with the luggage. As they move away, I realise I can no longer see the boy among them.
'Talbot' - the messenger of destruction?
I turn back and stare at wall behind where he was standing, half expecting to see those fateful words addressed to Belshazzar at his feast:
Mene, mene, tekel upharsin — You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.
Copyright © Pedro 2015
Image Copyright © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons