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La Faja Roja

The Red Sash

By Sandra DosdallPublished 2 years ago 6 min read
La Faja Roja

Once upon a time, in a land far and away from here, there lived a young boy with thick brown hair that fell across his forehead in rich, luxurious curls. Bertrand was full of zest and ambition and maintained goals greater than most envisioned. On the surface, his life appeared to others to be perfect, he was surrounded by maids and nurses providing for his every whim, but it was anything but dreamy in reality.

His brothers and only sister were much older than he in years and were lucky to have travelled to all the places he longed to see. Nevertheless, Bertrand adored them, each of them, and planned at night how he would trek to foreign lands they had seen by jet or train.

They revealed to him tales of Paris and St. Petersburg, told stories of the Gulf of Mexico and the calm blue waters of the Caribbean. He listened to their accounts and imagined himself a part of it. Bertrand saw himself surfing off the northern shores of the Island of Maui. He visualized walking through tulip fields in the Netherlands and even created his own story of summit climbing in the Rocky Mountains. Finally, one day Bertrand valiantly reached the top of the mountain and looked down below at all the people aspiring to be as brave as he was. As bold and courageous as he imagined he was.

Late one night, after his nurse turned off his bedroom lights, Bertrand found himself walking the cobblestone streets of Pamplona, Spain. His trousers were short to accommodate the heat, cut above his ankles, exposing bare feet below. Around his waist, he wore a bright red waistband, tied snuggly in a simple slip knot. He ran his hands over the satin material, liking the feel of it on his skin. His shirt was plain white linen, loose-fitting, with no buttons, tucked haphazardly into his pants. He held tightly to the day's newspaper in his left hand, which he knew he would use to draw the attention of his antagonist when the time was just right. He came prepared, ready for the journey he had read so much about.

At the statue of Saint Fermin, the town Priest said prayers for all. Surrounded by men much more significant than he and hungry to run, Bertrand prayed with them. He was excited to begin, waiting for the sound of the first rocket to fire. He was shouting, "Viva San Fermin," right along with them. Excitement brewed within him.

Bertrand was thirsty for thrills. His days in his bed left him wanting. Then, finally, everyone heard the blast; the starting rocket released, the race was on! The corral gate opened, and the cattle let loose to the streets. Six steers lead the six raging bulls along the two-and-a-half-minute route into the city square. Bertie was anxiously waiting; he would run with these men, bulls chasing them to the corral at the end. Then, where the men left standing would fight the bulls in the centre ring, to the death! After that, Bertrand would live his life as though he had nothing to lose.

His breath came quicker as the bulls approached. He heard screams from others as the herd passed them. He could only assume the bulls of Spain had overrun them. He clutched his newspaper in his grip, ready to wave it. He noticed his unprotected feet felt chilled on the stones of the street. Bertrand rubbed both of them on the rocks, ensuring that both feet were awake and fully prepared for the run. He looked to the left and the right, unable to contain his smile. Everything seemed to be in working order; he could hear the bulls approaching. Their hooves were crashing on the stones of the roadway as they bashed past each shop doorway.

He heard the whistles of Police blowing, used to alternate the path of the herd—warning onlookers of impending doom. Bertrand had never seen a bull up close. He wanted to look into its eyes, to connect with the soul. Bertrand, though, needed to run. He took a deep breath and held it as the steers rounded the corner and approached where he stood. Just behind the females, Bertrand saw the six bulls raging towards him. He could see saliva escaping and splashing from their nostrils, steaming as they exhaled.

Bertrand leaped into the middle of the street and ran. As fast as he could make his legs work, he ran. He didn't dare look over his shoulder or pause to attempt eye contact. His search for connection would have to wait for another day. His red sash bounced and flapped with each thrust his legs mustered. Finally, an accomplishment so few can boast about, Bertrand reached the city square before the bulls. He threw his arms above his head in triumph, and the crowd roared and cheered.

He bowed for the masses and removed his red sash from his waist, throwing it high into the air and towards his competitor. Victory felt bold to Bertrand. The bulls, for him, represented the most frightening of adventures. Nevertheless, he had looked adversity in the face. Only a rare selection of men was courageous enough to run the eight hundred and seventy-five meters to the town hall square in Pamplona, Spain. And Bertrand stood now bearing witness to their thunderous applause, feeling like he had conquered the world. He was one of them.

However, Bertrand was only brave, and he was only courageous in his dreams. Bertrand had barely seen outside the four walls of his bedroom. He was contained, isolated and stuck in what he perceived as a trap. Bertrand had been inside his room the entirety of his fourteen years and confined to his bed, with arms and legs that no longer co-operated with his brain. When he was just a baby, a terrible car crash left Bertrand with no use of his limbs and his siblings with no parents.

A substantial inheritance after the death of their parents provided a comfortable manner for the older children to provide for Bertrand. His disability, though, made their lifestyle choices possible. So while he sat lonely in his room, left to the will of his imagination and the delicate hands of private nurses, Bertrand's siblings lived out the fantasies that Bertrand only dreamt of. But Bertrand never angered, nor was he envious or rude. On the contrary, when his brothers and sister would visit, he would excitedly ask them to share stories of their voyages, seeking vivid details of their explorations and ventures to tropical oases' and unchartered territories.

You see, Bertrand was a dreamer, and the night that he visited Pamplona was a happy one for him. Racing with the Bulls took courage, and Bertrand accomplished something in his dreams that few can achieve in reality. He freed himself from the possibility of becoming an inmate in an invisible prison of resentment. Bertrand overcame by determination any chance that he might become frozen. He discarded the idea of assigning limits on his ability to grow. He decided he would always be free, and although Bertrand couldn't naturally travel with his siblings, he could imagine every place they had been. And Bertrand, despite his physical circumstance, could live more liberated than anyone telling him stories.


About the Creator

Sandra Dosdall

Taught by some of the greatest literary minds of this century, Sandra's delivery method is reminiscent of her mentors and yet uniquely her own page-turning style. Her novels are suspenseful, unpredictable, & thought-provokingly colorful.

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