The Miracle

Il·lustració. © Margarita Castaño

It was Cosme who told me the flat was a miracle. And that the price was unbelievable, just like the views, because it had a terrace where you could see both the sea and the mountain or a sky that seemed like it was put there expressly for you, with clouds and a cellophane blue over Plaça Molina; you know the one, near the train station, among streets filled with private hospitals and cute cafés.​

I had been looking for something suited to my new salary for months. I wanted to make the step from a shared flat to living alone, so that I could do my own thing, finally, after over a decade of waiting my turn to use the washing machine, or queuing up on the landing to have a shower in a bathroom full of hairs and steam that smelled of anti-dandruff shampoo.

And it was Cosme who told me he had a friend who had a cousin who had left his girlfriend who had a step-sister who knew the flat would be empty tomorrow, but I had to be quick; you know how these things work. A good flat for rent will get snapped up; it’s like a mythological creature in Barcelona. For that price, I knew the only thing I could find would be a twenty-metre-squared studio in Sants or a two-bedroom flat in L’Hospitalet, but I didn’t want to leave Barcelona; that would be like admitting defeat. And I wasn’t defeated: they had given me a raise, at the office, though I was working more hours and the occasional Saturday, but still. So, I turned up and the old man at the entrance told me that he was the owner, that he managed the building and collected the rent, and that as soon as he saw me he knew I’d be the ideal tenant.

The little man was balding and bore a troubling resemblance to someone you know but can’t remember, and you squint at them, only half listening because the resemblance has clouded everything except your attempts to work out where you’ve seen that face before. And he talks, he explains things like this, like I’m telling you now. Listen to it like I was listening to him that morning when he opened the door to the flat – a penthouse, of course – and said:

         ‘There’s plenty of light because it reaches up here first, and the whole flat wakes up straight away, and that’s the entrance hall, which welcomes you home’.

         And I swear it was as though the flat was talking to me somehow, because I heard something like a hoarse, toothless women saying welcome, and I should have said I wasn’t interested right there and then.

         ‘This is a lovely place to eat’, the little man said, showing me the kitchen and breakfast bar, with two stools and some swanky lamps. ‘The calmness washes over you, because the bus, for example, the public transport is good, then there’s a cinema next door, the lift brings you home and then all you have to do, with a little effort, is just float over to the bedroom, and the bathroom has a lovely bath, look, the boiler is new. Touch the water, you’ll see. Real, warm water. I’ll collect the rent on the first day of the month, without fail; I don’t want any problems or anything’.

So, quite happily, I signed the contract and moved in a week later, and I didn’t even have to pay a deposit. And yeah, the flat was wonderful, and furnished, and quiet, and spacious, and I didn’t know what to do with all this luck.

Il·lustració. © Margarita Castaño Illustration. © Margarita Castaño

So I invited friends over for dinner: ‘Jesus Christ, Toni, what a flat, look at those views. Look at that dining room, and the bath!’ And I thought, there must be a catch here. So I went looking for it, roaming the apartment for hours and hours: perhaps it would be some mould under the sink, or a gas leak, or drips down the walls when it rained. But the September rains came, and nothing: hearing the drops on the windows just made the whole place even more comforting. I woke up at night, just delighted to be there, amazed that the ceiling hadn’t fallen in on me. Even when I left for work I was worried something might happen: I might come back and find thieves, or squatters, or discover that my clothes, or computer, or food in the fridge had been taken. Basically, I couldn’t believe it.

I started to go mad, making everyone come home with me so I could show them the flat. And I went on like this until one night, in a bar in Gràcia, I met a girl, Mireia, and I invited her over for a gin and tonic, because I wanted to show her the views over the city from my fifty-metre-squared terrace. And she said of course, mate, I've heard that one before. She must have thought I wanted to sleep with her but that wasn’t it; I really wanted to show her the parquet and the lights in the hall and how shiny it all was, and the marble in the kitchen, and the taps. And yeah, I think it was that, because not long after we hooked up, then I woke up while she was sleeping and I thought, it was the flat, not me, because I’ve never met a woman and straight away on the first night, you know. But it wasn’t a one-night stand, because two weeks later we decided to live together – in the flat, of course – and three months later, we were engaged. And I don’t know if all this was down to the flat or love, or the joy of living there, which can lead to these things.

And we named our first child Cosme, and it was on his first birthday that we received a letter saying the contract was expiring, and if we wanted to renew it we’d have to pay double, so we had to leave, which was sad, and now we’re expecting a little girl. We needed something a bit bigger and outside the city, where it’s all cramped and smoggy, and we’re very happy to have moved to Viladecans, which is half an hour away from work by car.

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