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The SHADOW of the WIND

Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Translated by Lucia Graves Copyright 2001 Version 1.0

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THE CEMETERY OF FORGOTTEN BOOKS I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time. It was the early summer of 1945, and we walked through the streets of a Barcelona trappedbeneath ashen skies as dawn poured over Rambla de Santa Monica in a wreath of liquid copper. 'Daniel, you mustn't tell anyone what you're about to see today,' my father warned. 'Not even your friend Tomas. No one.' 'Not even Mummy?' My father sighed, hiding behind the sad smile that followed him like a shadow all through his life. 'Of course you can tell her,' he answered, heavyhearted. 'We keep nosecrets from her. You can tell her everything.' Shortly after the Civil War, an outbreak of cholera had taken my mother away. We buried her in Montjuic on my fourth birthday. The only thing I can recall is that it rained all day and all night, and that when I asked my father whether heaven was crying, he couldn't bring himself to reply. Six years later my mother's absence remained in the air aroundus, a deafening silence that I had not yet learned to stifle with words. My father and I lived in a modest apartment on Calle Santa Ana, a stone's throw from the church square. The apartment was directly above the bookshop, a legacy from my grandfather, that specialized in rare collectors' editions and secondhand books - an enchanted bazaar, which my father hoped would one day be mine. I was raisedamong books, making invisible friends in pages that seemed cast from dust and whose smell I carry on my hands to this day. As a child I learned to fall asleep talking to my mother in the darkness of my bedroom, telling her about the day's events, my adventures at school, and the things I had been taught. I couldn't hear her voice or feel her touch, but her radiance and her warmth haunted everycorner of our home, and I believed, with the innocence of those who can still count their age on their ten fingers, that if I closed my eyes and spoke to her, she would be able to hear me wherever she was. Sometimes my father would listen to me from the dining room, crying in silence. On that June morning, I woke up screaming at first light. My heart was pounding in my chest as if my very soul wastrying to escape. My father hurried into my room and held me in his arms, trying to calm me. 'I can't remember her face. I can't remember Mummy's face,' I muttered, breathless. My father held me tight. 'Don't worry, Daniel. I'll remember for both of us.' We looked at each other in the half-light, searching for words that didn't exist. For the first time, I realized my father was growing old. Hestood up and drew the curtains to let in the pale glint of dawn.

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'Come, Daniel, get dressed. I want to show you something,' he said. 'Now? At five o'clock in the morning?' 'Some things can only be seen in the shadows,' my father said, flashing a mysterious smile probably borrowed from the pages of one of his worn Alexandre Dumasromances. Night watchmen still lingered in the misty streets when we stepped out of the front door. The lamps along the Ramblas marked out an avenue in the early morning haze as the city awoke, like a watercolour slowly coming to life. When we reached Calle Arco del Teatro, we continued through its arch toward the Raval quarter, entering a vault of blue haze. I followed my father through thatnarrow lane, more of a scar than a street, until the glimmer of the Ramblas faded behind us. The brightness of dawn filtered down from balconies and cornices in streaks of slanting light that dissolved before touching the ground. At last my father stopped in front of a large door of carved wood, blackened by time and humidity. Before us loomed what to my eyes seemed the carcass of a palace, a place...
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