- Pages: 512 Pages
- Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
- Imprint: Philomel Books
- ISBN: 9780399160318
An Excerpt From
The Fountains of Silence
They stand in line for blood.
June’s early sun blooms across a string of women waiting patiently at el matadero. Fans snap open and flutter, replying to Madrid’s warmth and the scent of open flesh wafting from the slaughterhouse.
The blood will be used for morcilla, blood sausage. It must be measured with care. Too much blood and the sausage is not firm. Too little and the sausage crumbles like dry earth.
Rafael wipes the blade on his apron, his mind miles from morcilla. He turns slowly from the line of customers and puts his face to the sky.
In his mind it is Sunday. The hands of the clock touch six.
It is time.
The trumpet sounds and the march of the pasodoble rolls through the arena.
Rafael steps onto the sand, into the sun.
He is ready to meet Fear.
In the center box of the bullring sits Spain’s dictator, Generalísimo Francisco Franco. They call him El Caudillo — leader of armies, hero by the grace of God. Franco looks down to the ring. Their eyes meet.
You don’t know me, Generalísimo, but I know you.
I am Rafael Torres Moreno, and today, I am not afraid.
The supervisor swats the back of Rafael’s damp neck. “Are you blind? There’s a line. Stop daydreaming. The blood, Rafa. Give them their blood.”
Rafa nods, walking toward the patrons. His visions of the bullring quickly disappear.
Give them their blood.
Memories of war tap at his brain. The small, taunting voice returns, choking daydreams into nightmares. You do remember, don’t you, Rafa?
The silhouette is unmistakable.
Patent-leather men with patent-leather souls.
The Guardia Civil. He secretly calls them the Crows. They are servants of Generalísimo Franco and they have appeared on the street.
“Please. Not here,” whispers Rafael from his hiding spot beneath the trees.
The wail of a toddler echoes above. He looks up and sees Julia at the open window, holding their youngest sister, Ana.
Their father’s voice booms from inside. “Julia, close the window! Lock the door and wait for your mother. Where is Rafa?”
“Here, Papá,” whispers Rafael, his small legs folded in hiding. “I’m right here.”
His father appears at the door. The Crows appear at the curb.
The shot rings out. A flash explodes. Julia screams from above.
Rafa’s body freezes. No breath. No air.
They drag his father’s limp corpse by an arm.
It’s too late. As the cry leaves his throat, Rafa realizes. He’s given himself away.
A pair of eyes dart. “His boy’s behind the tree. Grab him.”
Rafa blinks, blocking the painful memories, hiding his collapsed heart beneath a smile.
“Buenos días, señora. How may I help you?” he asks the customer.
Give them their blood.
For more than twenty years, Spain has given blood. And sometimes Rafa wonders — what is left to give?
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