The Belmez Friendship

In 1971, Maria Gomez Pereira noticed someone staring at her from the kitchen floor in a house in Belmez de La Moraleda, Spain. A face appeared etched in the concrete. María scrubbed the image but it wouldn’t fade. Frightened, her husband and son destroyed the floor before relaying it. The face reappeared along with several others. Researchers investigated the site and settled on two possible theories for the paranormal experience. The first suggested that the family painted the image with chemicals such as acetic acid. The second credited Maria’s psychic ability to burn images into solid objects with her mind, called Thoughtography. The latter appealed most to me as I stood in front of a bathroom mirror in Orlando, Florida 2019. If Maria imprinted herself on the floor then how did she view herself emotionally?

“You are not me,” I said to the mirror. Two bloodshot eyes and a bloated stomach glowed beneath a fluorescent light. My head throbbed with an erratic heartbeat. I remembered arguing with Anthony at a bar, ignoring his calls while walking home to our apartment, dragging an 80lb broken television set to the dumpster, and cleaning out a storage unit full of plywood and metals.img_1221

“You’re pretty strong though,” I said and laughed. My body ached from all the physical and emotional activity. Did supervillains feel like this after destroying the world? Cleaning out the unit made me feel powerful and embarrassed. If I could move that tv by myself when drunk then what could I accomplish when sober? I wanted to know the answer but first needed to finish cleaning out the apartment.

“Why did you leave? I was worried about you,” Anthony shouted at me when he came home an hour later. We stood on the front porch where all the neighbors could see us.

“You don’t need to do that anymore because we’re not friends. I’m moving out,” I said. Anthony shook his head. We practiced this routine every so often during the past nine years. This time though I felt empowered to destroy our brotherly bond.

“You’re going to regret this,” Anthony said and left the apartment.  I cried through the night. The decision came easy and getting up felt no different. The world kept spinning without my best friend.

People thought the Belmez faces would disappear without Maria’s thoughts. She died in 2004 and the images remained, attracting tourists from all over the world. The city council deemed the phenomenon a hoax that the Pereira’s created for attention and financial gain. Yet it provided the public a chance to test their faith in the authenticity of the unbelievable.

My relationship with Anthony seemed unbreakable until this point. For seventy-two hours though I envisioned a world without him. It pained me to think our friendship could disappear like the clouds or a noontime shadow.

“I’m really sorry,” I said to him over the phone. Anthony apologized too. We gave each other some space to think things over for the next couple of days. During that time I thought back to the television set. I impressed myself and decided to put that willpower into action. I would stop drinking, lose weight, and start writing more. I could do anything if I just envisioned it.



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