And in he walked, guitar slung low by his side. Casually pulling up an old chair, he sat in the corner without introduction or occasion and began to play.  After an assault of practice strums, the pace picked up, his fingers picking and plucking furiously at the strings. Two hours earlier, she had wondered what had driven her to this ancient city where she had ten euros to her name and no Spanish language skills to speak of and yet as she watched him from the other side of the room, she inched her glass down slowly, barely hearing it touch the table. Her heart had stopped beating and she forced herself to breathe.

Perhaps the universe was rewarding her for her courage after all.

Every now he would trail off and stop, flex his fingers and adjust his capo. He didn’t stop for applause or seem to even notice when it didn’t come, almost as if he was glad for the oblivion that came with playing an early set in a dimly-lit tourist dive on Dia de las Brujas. Slowly, he brought his face down to his guitar and cradled it with his chin as he whispered to it soft and low, paying close attention to each lingering string as it surrendered beneath his practiced hands. Something long-forgotten shifted as the music tugged at her heartstrings and stirred memories of a distant life, letting the lighter notes carry her away as if she was back in some dream she couldn’t quite remember.

Another round of blistering strums snapped her out of her reverie and once again she found herself involuntarily biting her lip, blood racing as he expertly and unwittingly commanded her attention. The intensity of his playing became more and more fierce and he closed his eyes – the sheer abandon and wildness becoming too much for even him to bear.

The ambient noise levels became almost intolerable as more dinner patrons filled the room with rambunctious laughter and wine-soaked stories commanding attention in at least three languages and yet all she could see was the ache on his face that somehow in this strange place matched her own and held her captive. She found herself wanting to know this broody man in the corner with the furrowed brow, who like her, was seemingly oblivious to the chaos of the late night dining surrounding them.

Suddenly, she felt more alive than she’d ever felt in her life.

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