PART ONE: XAVI
Close your eyes and imagine a thick shaft of sunlight glimmering through the thin curtain that’s swaying with the gentle wind. Picture the floating particles of sparkling dust as it catches the sun’s golden rays. Pause for a moment and visualize that with a level of quietude.
Now, imagine yourself running wild, under the stars, along the freezing shores of a sandy beach. As you run, wet sand trickle between your toes. Over the distance, you see a few glittering lights from ships as they sail further away from port. In a second, you hear their final farewell through their foghorns.
Finally, imagine yourself watching the setting sun cast long shadows over the infinite field of green grass. Among the sound of the rustling leaves are the melodies of birds in the canopy above. Faint guffaws of children from another hill also reach your ears. When the wind puffs a gentle breeze, you yawn, and your eyes drift into the night under the idle twilight.
Did it in any way elicit a form of visceral comfort that embraced your longing soul? Can you hear your childlike laughter and screams; when your smiles were innocent and sincere? Was it nostalgic? Perhaps. Maybe yes, maybe no. But to Xavi, it is yes, to all of these.
Anything can make him feel that gloomy, yet delightful, feeling of longing—that lingering bite of melancholy. It can be a tune that he’d heard when he was under the spell of young love. Or it can be a sight where the sun casts its rays on a marble floor, bouncing the light upwards and illuminating the underside of tables and chairs. Even as mundane as the wind, from a gentle breeze to a violent gale, its whispery songs will always carry him to some far‑away land, just like the day when he was in the park with his then‑girlfriend.
“You’re smiling to yourself again,” Nicola said to Xavi.
He gave an obnoxious grin.
She moaned. “You know, back in the nineteenth‑century, doctors considered nostalgia a mental disorder.”
“Don’t you think I know that?”
“I’m just saying, yours is like… uncontrollable. Sometimes I even feel like you’re actively searching for it.”
“Of course, I am! And you’re a big part of it! It’s you and me! Every day that we’re together, we’re creating new memories we’ll fondly look back on. Memories that will last a lifetime. Every day is a nostalgic moment waiting to be treasured.”
She stopped walking, arms akimbo. “Alright, then explain to me what you feel when nostalgia hits you.”
He crossed his arms too. “Why are you trying to make nostalgia look bad?”
“I don’t! I just want to understand why you love it so much.”
“Because! They are memories locked into a bubble we can never take back. Even if it seems sad, it still feels euphoric knowing that we’ve created them together. It’s kind of a happy sadness.”
“Huh? Sadness elevates your mood?”
“Not sadness. I don’t know. Something, something… It’s a nice melancholic feeling,” he said, looking down.
“Fine. But for someone who wants to create memories, why are we still living eight hours apart? Why can’t we just be thirty minutes apart? Or even better, not be apart. Why?”
“You know why. We’ve talked about this. We’ll make it work until it’s no longer working.”
“And to me, it’s no longer working.” Nicola scowled and walked away.
“Wait! What?” Xavi began chasing her through a sea of unwitting faces. “Nicola, wait! What do you mean not working?” He gasped for breath as his flabs got in the way.
Nicola was Xavi’s first girlfriend, and it seemed to him that there would be no other. He never did when, fair or not, a storm hit them, and their relationship was buried by a landslide.
Since then, Xavi lived a life of powerful nostalgia in which everything seemed to point back to the days of Nicola—the days when the wind sang the song of Nicola’s name, the days whose night skies were filled with glistening stars resembling her sparkling eyes.
Now, nostalgia isn’t the only thing consuming Xavi’s days. Something more sinister is lurking beneath his sullen heart. And if not careful, nostalgia’s big brother will devour him inside out, leaving only bitter tears in its wake.