Do you know that I’m never gonna die? I’m eternal, like the mountains. I’m eternal, like some trees. I move from one point to another, from H to Z, from home to work, from work to the supermarket. I get some groceries and wonder ‘why is it only me that is eternal?’ I hand out my bag of frozen peas to the cashier, while I think ‘she’ll die. In twenty years, she’ll die.’ And I will remain. I’ll stick to the earth, casting my roots deep down like a big sequoia. I won’t sleep, for fear the earth may swallow me to its guts and there digest me like a piece of bad white pudding.
A girl passes me on the line. She’s wearing flip-flops. It’s freezing outside. Her eyes are green. Her eyes are blue. Her eyes are pink and purple. I’ve also got the rainbow in me, just as I have the mountains, the trees. I’ve got the green hills of Scotland, with its sheep. I’ve got the Lake District. I’ve got Beachy Head and its cliffs. I’m not only eternal, I’m immense!
I get out of the supermarket. There’s snow on my eyelashes now. I walk, I walk. Among a pit full of rubbish the dog lies. Immobile. Impertinent. Immense. I think of buying some shampoo and face cream. I think of travelling to India, of climbing the Everest, of me. And now, crossing the street, I think of everything, of the world, of the Dream.
An old lady smiles at me. Snow on her hair, furrows on her chin. And I think of life. And I think of death, and of white, white birds. ‘Do you know that I also was in Edinburgh some years ago?’ I ask the woman sitting next to me on the train. I was. I was. I. It happened there. Don’t ask me what. I was born; I died; I flowered. I emerged. Rainy Edinburgh, grey Edinburgh. There I was born. It made life worth living, and yet sad to be lived. It made life special, brave, and yet coward, drip.
You win. You lose. You play.
You play. You lose. You may win.
‘My cousin is getting married’ she says, sucking the remaining of her cup of tea. ‘She’s marrying a policeman next summer.’ Marriage is a serious thing. We go on the train. Stop. Stop. Marriage is a very serious thing. ‘My other cousin from Alicante is getting married too. She’s in love.’ Love. Love. Love. You love, you die, you marry. Love is not a serious thing. I love myself, that much I know. Do I love the other too? Do I love the Other? Reaching the other is such a frightening thing. Scary. Terrifying. Personal contact is frightening. Myself, I’m scared. So are you, so is the woman next to me. And so was the cashier at the supermarket, and the train coordinator, and the train driver. Including, absorbing, extending your space to entail the other, what a frightful thing! I’m scared of you, sitting next to me. I mark, and remark, stress, and restress, the boundaries between you and me. I eagerly place a plastic bar between your groceries and mine. My lettuce shouldn’t look at your tomatoes. My peas can be contaminated by your tray of bleeding mutton. Don’t touch me even if we’re sitting side by side on the train. Don’t dare trespass the frontier of my individual seat.
There’s an invisible boundary between you and me. We love, we love. I love you and me. A man nods in his sleep at the end of the carriage, his head moving upside down, down upside. Ah! So he agrees! ‘Where are you from, originally?’ Originally? What do you mean? She knows I’m not from here, but doesn’t want to offend me talking about my accent. Originally? Not originally. I’m only from one place, and yet I’m from everywhere. I come from the mountains. I come from the trees. Myself, I’m an eternal thing!
The river flows. We pass it. We move on, with short bread and tea. I don’t like repression. I don’t like contention. I’m like the river; I’m like the sea. I overflow the container. I always spill my milk. River, river, river, tell my mistress that I love her. Take my song to her. Take me home with her. Contention. Repression. Oppression. Where are you? Where am I? And who are you? Are you the sleepy man? Are you the guy pushing the trolley along the aisle, or my talkative companion? We, you and I, have to make the most of it. Can you see that elderly man being carried by his middle-aged son into the carriage? He must be ninety at least. He looks so thin, so faded; so consumed. He must be one hundred at the very least. He opens his mouth, shifting his onion skin to a different position, to a different folding. We have to make the most of it. His son holds him from his armpits and now makes him sit next to the window. ‘Look at the trees,’ he points, ‘look at the sheep.’ Did he make the most of it? Was it enough? Was it fair? And what’s it? A young woman has stood up from her seat so that the old man can lie there. She squeezes next to her two companions on another seat.
I won’t have scarce, white, grayish, greasy hair. I won’t glue an onion to my cheeks and chin. I won’t wear my trousers tied up with a belt up to my armpits, or sit down unconscious, staring at the willow tree. I will remain with the stars, with the water; I will continue moving, never to arrive anywhere. Reaching your final destination is so frightful that I’ll continue travelling till the Final Judgment.
Our train is about to enter the station. I wait for you. I wait for me. ‘Now, talking seriously, he’s not the man for you.’ No, but this one is. I lift my head and I see you smiling at me. River, river, river, bring my love to me. Terror! Panic! Why do I feel like this? Maybe it’s because I’m about to trespass the boundary, so you’ll become part of me. So I’ll become part of you. I’m scared. My legs tremble; I mumble; I can’t breathe. But you’re there, smiling, waiting, ready to run the risk with me. ‘My cousin is getting married.’ The cashier is dying, the rainbow girl is rushing, the elderly man is staring at the trees. This is life, this is life. Quick, mysterious, surprising. Would you take the risk? Edinburgh saw me some years ago. Now this station sees me. Play, play, play. I do, I will. I’ll swim the most dangerous rivers, I’ll run the greatest distance, I’ll climb every mountain, I’ll jump off every bridge, just so as to break the distance between you and me.
We have stopped. People rushing. Rushing, rushing, rushing. But we wait. You look at me. You smile. My neighbour, the nodding man, the old father, all are gone now. I take my bags, including the now unfrozen peas. Stepping out of the carriage, I extend my hand to yours. ‘Do you know that I’m never gonna die?’ You smile; you caress me. We link our fingers. We agree. Walking out of the station, we have bridged the invisible boundary between you and me.
Marina Cano has an English degree from the University of Murcia (Spain). She obtained the First Rank Outstanding Student Achievement Award, both at her university and at a Spanish National level. She is currently completing her MLitt Women, Writing and Gender at St Andrews University. Some of her most recent publications are: ‘Persuasion Moves To Chicago: Rewriting Austen’s Classic in The Lake House‘ and ‘Becoming Shakespeare and Jane Austen in Love: An Intertextual Dialogue between Two Biopics‘ (academic) and ‘Macedonia de Frutas‘ (‘Fruit Salad’) (creative). Her fields of interest include rewriting, women’s literature, Jane Austen, intertextuality and creative writing.