Stories on a Map

Stolen Sliver of Heart

Stolen Sliver of Heart largeCraig Rawlings


Dark black eyes sparkled, turned up face, she smiled at me. We stepped lightly to the music, dancing our first cumbia. I, a gringo beginner, she with the natural rhythm from deep in her soul.

I knew as I drove south across the dry, parched desert, with the wind-whipped sand blasting across my wind-shield, that today was different. Startling changes in weather and the flash of lightning from the dry sand clouds as they sweep across the desert, gathering sparks and power, can’t help but change hearts. It opens doors.

The sand clouds darken the sun, taming it to the shyness of light like the moon, casting a red haze across the horizon. The eternal struggle – the sun, fighting to stay alive, fights the moon, chasing it across the sky but finally giving up and drifting down, silhouetting the horizon before disappearing.

Electricity is in the air, enhanced by mood-changing northern lights, the best of Amsterdam, serenaded by Jose Jose’s silken voice. The stage is set for a romantic adventure. This is the night, it just feels so. With all these signs creating heady thoughts, I crossed the border into Mexico.

Wow, were the signs right or what. Here she is. This beautiful Latin lady sliding across the dance floor with me, so sensitive to my touch, she feels the way to move from the slightest pressure, turning out, swinging through. The music caressing us, her arm on top of mine, her back so strong, yet sensitive to the slightest move of my hand. But her eyes, penetrating, bright, smiling, so dark, longing, reaching, gazing into mine, wondering, who is this blond stranger?

Dancing with this blond stranger, bright blue eyes, such warmth, he smells so good, and he can dance, wow he likes to dance. The vicious sandstorm had hit El Paso, blowing sand across the city. He had yelled at me again. Why is he so angry with me? As the sand clouds moved in, knowing my children were safe, I ran away. I had to get away. This is not a happy life. Across the border to my home, I escaped. A calm came over me as I entered Mexico, back to my home, and I knew, this is good. Electricity is in the air; I can feel it. My sister’s warm hug and we were swept away to our favorite little pub to relax with a double Tecate and a great Latin band. Oh, I love the cumbia. I wish my husband would take me dancing. And here I am, gazing into the eyes of this blond stranger, so white against my dark skin. We sway across the floor, he moves okay for someone trying to learn the Latin rhythm. I move with his signals, I twirl, he moves me close to him. Wow, where am I, what happened? Is it theTequila shots? No, it has to be the sandstorm, it opens people’s hearts. The storm has swept me away. His hair is so blond, the storm so dark. As the music fades, he takes my hands and leads me out the door.

As the music fades, I take her hand and lead her out the door. The warm winter Mexican air, with not a word spoken, has seduced us. The calm after the storm. The wind has stopped and the stars are sparkling so bright. Free for dinner? She orders shrimp sautéed in tequila and Grand Marnier. For me, sea bass à la Vera Cruz. Margaritas finished, we drive cross town to a formal dance club. I get to dance with this warm lady more? She is so delightful. A 20-piece band plays the best in Latin music. I hope we can dance all night.

Wow, I hope we can dance all night. What a wonderful dinner, and now he has brought me to this beautiful dance hall, a bit formal, I wish I had dressed up for this occasion. But I am having so much fun dancing with him I don’t really care. I hardly speak his language and he speaks very little of mine, but maybe this is the magic that is in the air, we feel each other more than speaking. That’s it. No words. Just dancing. This is a nice place, I’m glad he brought us here. I really want to dance all night.

I really hope we can dance all night. She is so beautiful and so alive. I have always admired the soft silky, brown skin of beautiful Latin women. Her dark black hair falling across her shoulders frames her bright smile. The candles on the table flicker shadows across her lips, so red, so red her lips, distracting me but not taking away from her dark sparkling eyes. I’m mesmerized by her eyes. So open and inviting.

His lips are so open and inviting, but they don’t take away from his bright blue eyes. What am I doing here? I’m married. Yet, here I am dancing deep into the night with this blond, white stranger. He is the sun, bright contrast to me in my dark times. Fighting the moon, trying to stay alive. The sand storm comes over me, shadowing this sun, his light now mirrors the moon, slides down and silhouettes the horizon. I slip away. Do I save my marriage? I don’t know. But I must slip away.

She needs to slip away. She will just slip away. I know she’s married. She must try to save it if she can. It’s like my sun was just eclipsed by the sandstorm, brought down to the brightness of the soon. She will slip away leaving only a silhouette on the horizon.

And with a long, sensuous tender kiss that said it all, we parted. As she left I realized she had stolen a sliver of my heart.


 © Craig Rawlings
Image: David Göthberg

A world adventurer and traveler, who has intimately devoured over 56 countries, Craig Rawlings is a consummate serial entrepreneur, poet and writer and currently lives in Tallinn, Estonia. He has published many magazine articles and was Editor in Chief of an international business and economic magazine. A gourmet cook and spring chicken in the autumn of his life, Craig is seasoned just right.