Rafael, 28

Struggling with writer's block in the vibrant city of Barcelona, Rafael unexpectedly uncovers a muse, intertwining cherished memories from Valencia with his mystifying present-day adventures.

5 min read

The untold secret:

Barcelona’s twilight had a melancholic beauty that seemed almost tailored for the souls lost in their thoughts. Among them was Rafael, a young writer entrapped in the iron grip of writer's block. For weeks, his once flowing pen seemed to stutter and pause, leaving blank pages in its wake. Every deadline loomed like a spectre, and the very act of writing, once his solace, had become his tormentor.

Returning from his usual café, where inspiration had yet again eluded him, he was met with an unexpected sight in his apartment building's corridor. A door was slightly ajar, inviting an unscheduled detour from the mundane. A fleeting curiosity, combined with a hint of concern for a potentially forgetful neighbour, led him to that threshold. An echoed “hello” received no response, and Rafael hesitated on the precipice of a decision.

The apartment inside was still. Not a soul in sight, and yet, its living room held an alluring promise. An inviting sofa stood there, illuminated by the remnants of the day's sun. Exhaustion, curiosity, and a dose of recklessness urged Rafael forward. He settled on the cozy sofa, and against all reason, an almost paralysing slumber claimed him swiftly.

Waking after 20 minutes with a sense of alarm, his heart raced. But as he discreetly exited the strangers home, he felt lighter, invigorated. Over the following days, as he reflected on that unexpected respite, a realization dawned on him. It wasn't the aura of the apartment or its absent residents that revived him; it was the audacity of the act itself. Finding tranquillity amidst potential danger, letting go in a space not his own – this strange cocktail seemed to untangle his thoughts and reignite his creativity.

The respite, however, was short-lived. The shadows of writer’s block began to inch closer once more. In his desperation, Rafael found himself wandering the familiar hallways of his building, this time turning door knobs to check for unlocked entries on every floor. To his surprise, there was indeed a place, this time on the 12th floor, that wasn’t locked. The setting was different, but the pull was identical. As if under a spell, he surrendered to another stolen nap, awakening with a renewed sense of purpose and energy.

After that second intrusion, Rafael realised that the calming impact of these illicit rests, combined with the adrenaline of potential discovery, had the potential to become the linchpin of his creativity. Recognizing that the effects were fleeting, he decided to expand his horizons, equipping himself with tools to access more of Barcelona's secluded spaces in his neighbourhood.

For Rafael, these covert escapades were no longer merely about the physical rest they provided. They were about momentarily escaping the confines of his own mind and the relentless pressure of his career. In these stolen moments of solitude, amidst the danger and adrenaline, he found a paradoxical peace, a desperately needed reset button for his beleaguered mind.

The untold secret lay not just in the illegal break-ins but also in the fragile dance between exhilaration and tranquillity that they represented for Rafael. He kept this secret closely guarded, fearful of exposure and the ensuing consequences. Yet, the thrill and rejuvenation these interludes provided acted like a drug, his personal form of Ritalin. It became an indispensable crutch, simultaneously propping up his creativity and threatening to be his undoing.

About Rafael:

In the peaceful coastal town near Valencia, Rafael was born to a world where golden sands whispered secrets with every wave, and age-old Spanish buildings held tales from centuries gone by. His father, more an artist than a mere carpenter, shaped wood into furniture that seemed to echo the past, embodying the spirit of his passion with each carved detail.

Every evening, as the Spanish sun cast long shadows, Rafael's mother would recount stories from her multicultural classroom. A teacher by profession, she painted her world in words, filling young Rafael's mind with dreams and inspiring a deep-rooted curiosity.

Yet, the most transformative moment of Rafael's childhood was the discovery of an old diary in their attic, penned by his grandfather. This journal, filled with dreams, loves, and day-to-day musings, offered Rafael a window to a soul he had never known. Immersed in those pages, he grasped the profound power of words, awakening the immense potential of his own imagination.

Whenever he accompanied his father on furniture deliveries, the diary was his trusted companion to make the endless waiting bearable. As his father discussed his work over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with clients, Rafael would often find a quiet spot, preferably next to a window, to drift away and read. The words of his grandfather, juxtaposed against the environment of a stranger's home, etched indelible memories in his heart.

The allure of a metropolis, with its sprawling tales and vibrant streets, eventually called to him. Eager to study literature and to carve his own narrative, Rafael left the familiar rhythms of Valencia for the bustling heart of Barcelona. The city, with its maze-like streets and literary debates echoing in old cafes, felt like an open book, waiting for Rafael to pen his chapter.

As he delved deeper into his work, Rafael's approach to writing began to echo the craftsmanship of his father. Much like the elder sculpted wood, revealing its hidden shape, Rafael wove words to uncover the heart of his stories. Some tales flowed with ease, while others were as challenging as a knotted piece of wood, resisting every effort to be shaped. But lately, Rafael felt, no matter how hard he tried, the words weren’t sculpting anything new anymore.

That was when an unexpected moment in an apartment with a slightly opened door in Barcelona jolted him. The ambiance, both familiar in its comfort and new in its surroundings, harkened back to his younger days with his grandfather’s diary amidst the smell of fresh woodwork. In that moment, he understood that his creativity was never truly lost. Just as the apartment door stood invitingly open, so too had his mind remained open, waiting for him to retrace his steps, revisit those cherished memories, to draw fresh inspiration.

The bridge between those distant recollections and his present predicament was clear. The boy engrossed in a diary in Valencia and the man pursuing his literary dreams in Barcelona were, in essence, pages of the same unfolding story. Recognizing the nostalgic roots of his inspiration, Rafael no longer felt the pressing need for the adrenaline-fueled naps in strangers' apartments to kickstart his creativity.

However, the pull of these unauthorized respites was too alluring to resist entirely. Even as the past's cherished memories offered the creative spark he yearned for, there remained a peculiar fondness for these illicit naps. He ventured into these apartments less often now, but when he did, it was less about rekindling creativity and more about the sheer comfort of an unrivalled nap in unfamiliar territory. A quirky indulgence, a cherished secret, it was a testament to the whims and complexities of a young writer’s mind.

Rafael, 28