Photo: Luis García, CC BY-SA 3.0 ES, via Wikimedia Commons

The square in Lavapiés quarter is a true crossroad, a slippery one, as a matter of fact. It’s a plaza that slides down or up, always depending on your point of view. It’s neither flat nor homogeneous. Populated by all the people in the world, it’s the most diverse neighbourhood in La Villa de Madrid.

For unknown reasons, the square is always in the making, as if the city council wanted to delete it, or to make life there just very difficult. But it can’t, it couldn’t. It will never erase the flow of life that Lavapiés is.

It is a small kingdom of unparalleled irregularities and slim streets spreading like spider legs, going upwards and downwards, knitting a myriad of intersections. To which one am I leading you?

As the legend has it, X marks the spot. Or should we say, ‘the cross?’ San Lorenzo’ cross? The saint patron, known to assist the desperate, guards this intersection, looks after it. Spiritually speaking, it’s probably the safest crossroads on Earth.

But is it?

Laid against the fences of the church, a bunch of drunkards flourish unmolested; a murder of crows, they scream the incomprehensible language of constant intoxication. “Il morto che parla,” an Italian restaurant in front of the temple, has bravely defied the challenge of surviving there for ten years, and with the current exhibition of talismans and charms on its walls it will surely resist another ten. The beer bar in the corner across is not that lucky. The ownership changes frequently, as if it were a true ordeal to make business on that spot, as if it required more than ordinary acumen. I assure you it is not for a lack of patrons, as everybody comes here to drink, love and forget.

The flow of visitors is always abundant and nobody truly sees the liminal nature of The Crossroads. My crossroads. Humans go up only to come down, turned into different people, or dogs or sun rays or a ball chased by children who play on the streets.

You go down in one shape and come back as something different, into another life, into another dimension. It’s an extraordinary shape-shifting trick performed by the secret synergies that concur in this precise spot. Neat, isn’t it?

You might think it is I who procures it, but I am its result. I might touch you as the wind or become someone pushing you from the back. I might come to you as a light scent, penetrating your pituitaries, confusing your senses.

Come, come, little pilgrim, become “the odd.” Let go what you were before coming here. Trust me as your life is turned upside down and downside up. Right here by me, you will do the same to others. Don’t be scared. Help me spread the legend of Lavapiés Crossroads.

Rosemary Thorne is a Spanish bilingual writer living in Madrid, Spain, who has been her entire life producing fiction in her mother tongue, with not much local professional encouragement. That’s why in 2019 she became a member of the HWA and began to think Horror in English terms. It’s worth mentioning that she was born in 1968, year of shocking revolutions, beautiful women and great red wine, and that’s why she doesn’t give up: she will have her first novel published in Spain by the end of 2021, and her goal for 2022 is to populate the world with her monsters. Find out more about her on Facebook and Instagram.