There was a river on a cold day in winter, ornamented by deserted banks, flowing on. There was a glorious bridge from the 1800 on which we stood to watch the water, two quasi-strangers. You were everything at once that day. You spoke with eloquence about how you’re convinced you’ve once seen a ghost. I laughed. The rain kept on pouring. Our feet and hair got wet. We found a café. You couldn’t eat that day, I think I made you nervous. ‘If you could live in a parallel reality where everything is as real as it is here, and everyone as you know them would exist, but things would be as you want them to, or this one which would you pick?’ You asked. Without hesitation I told you I’d choose the alternate reality. You made me feel nervous when you said that my friends and family would miss me here. I felt selfish I didn’t think of that before. I always felt a strange sense of novelty and familiarity in your calm nervousness. Your presence was comforting.
There were dreams made out of stuff, albeit intangible. They stayed in our heads most of the time, as to preserve them intact. Untouched. On some occasions however, such as during long hours of insomnia, mornings during which the harsh English sun would fill the room, or Friday evenings on which you or I would get off that train which would lead us to one another, those dreams would escape our lips. We would tarnish them with pretence, vulgar words, names of places, ifs, wants and will be’s. You’d speak, I’d listen. Then you would listen and I’d speak. They were dreams of foreign places, towns where neither of us had stepped foot in before. There were seas and country sides, there were roadtrips, my hometown, and a little house by the South coast of France. You will get your license and we will buy a cheap car and then we will set off and drive. We will drive through all of Europe, to nowhere in particular. We will eat ripe fruit on the way, and will get crappy jobs to sustain us. Then we will fly away, and find a small apartment in the centre of the city. I will be at yoga while you will write. We will drive to see koalas, and roam from coffee shop to coffee shop in search of that perfect flat white, or soy latte. We will swim and get tans. We will eat so much ripe fruit…
There was touch, filled with a sense of purpose and determination. Hands brushing through tangled hair; fingers entwining; bodies longing to merge into one another; eyes on eyes, fixated, as if to try to catch a glimpse of that thing they call ‘soul’. There was a need, a need that was not rationalised, nor thought through, a very urging need we absolutely had to succumb to.
There were streets and roads others have walked, in towns where we too left our mark. Cathedral ceilings, old coasters in local bars, empty bottles of cider and a made up boy and girl, talking in seven different accents. They always made us laugh so loud, I cannot even remember the names we gave them now. Then there were forests and fields with grass that went up to our knees. By the lake, two men were fishing, you said we needed to be quiet or we would scare the fish away. I didn’t want him to catch any fish, and so I spoke loudly, as it comforted me knowing no fish will die before my eyes that day. There were hills in the smallest of towns and a cemetery where Sylvia’s body lies. There was pouring rain and a deserted pub where I told you I thought your personality type was ‘INFJ’ and urged you to do the myers-briggs test to see. I guessed it right. I wasn’t sure if it was a lucky coincidence, a sense of intuition I did not know I had, or that indiscernible thing that made me feel like I knew your essence.
There were songs exchanged, books to read, and those we said we’d write. I have changed the plot of mine several times since then, and you, you may never start yours. There were jobs to do, and applications to be sent on days when we would part. All the mornings spent sleeping in and nights spent laying awake, we would tell stories until sleep came. There was a shared birthday we never celebrated, and the day you took the train so we could celebrate our 10,000 days of life. There were candles in the room, and wrapping paper with tiny hearts, a notebook in which you wrote, an envelope of stuff. And all the laughs, and silences and fears of everything we could be, an ego to preserve in a body shaped container, putting everything on pause.
There was a river on a cold day in winter, ornamented by deserted banks, flowing on.