I stop running and bend over. My breath is rasping in my throat as I slowly straighten and stand with hands on hips, watching him disappear around the bend at the top of the steep steps. He is too fast for me.
We haven’t visited this part of town before, having gravitated towards the marina and beach. Here it seems more rustic, traditional. The roughly-hewn steps dodge the encroaching white buildings, which crowd out the cerulean Andalusian sky. The lower walls and steps have been painted a congruous colour merging into a pristine white above. It gives the impression of being underwater; a coral paradise. Nearing the top, the steps narrow – or this could simply be pictorial depth – and a curled, iron handrail is fixed to one side to aid a weary traveller.
Suddenly I see the pots. I can’t believe I missed them. Sitting demurely on odd steps, they sport varying colours: brightest blues, bubble-gum pinks and sunflower yellows, each adorned with a simple bead necklace and filled with ferns and local plants. Smaller echoes are attached high up on the walls, similarly coloured and filled. The collective array gives the concrete urbanisation a softer feel.
I look up to where he vanished and, sighing, begin to haul myself up the steps. A door snaps open as I pass and a stout woman dressed in black, hair covered with a scarf, emerges. We lock eyes for a moment and then I smile and press on. I have to speak to him. He took off right after he dropped his bombshell. I chased after him, but my old legs are no match for his young ones, growing ever stronger with time, like the vigorous young plants around me. I feel anxiety gnaw at my stomach. I have to find him. I want to tell him that it doesn’t matter to me. He will always be my son.
Learn more about the contest which inspired this story: Photo Flora 2019-01