“No, sis, I’m in carriage four, you’re in six. But don’t worry, I can spend three hours alone aon the train, I’ve got this huge book to read! I’ll see you directly at Termini Station.”
“Ok, you’re right.”
I leave my sister in her seat, thinking that she is 19 and yes, sitting in her seat she can actually live without me. I go look for my seat, “Crap, I think, looking at the seat, no window even for the return trip.”
While I desperately look for my sweatshirt to protect me from the freezing temperature of these new generation trains with a train manager and double toilet paper in the bathrooms, a dark-haired girl approaches, with a delicate face and two legs as tall as me. “May I?” she asks, sitting next to me. There you go, I thought, the window made the right choice.
I sleep, read, sleep, I close my mouth, since it insists on falling open when I sleep in unnatural positions, I read, and finally I listen. The girl is talking on the phone. I’ll call her Bianca. Maybe her name was Guendalina, but I prefer Bianca. Bianca speaks softly, it seems that she doesn’t want to be heard, not by me, rather by the guy whom I presume she’s on the phone with. She tells him that she was just calling to say hi. Her voice is broken. I think he says “Oh, hi.” She is silent, as is he. At that point, I want to step in, and suggest a delicate “tell-him-to-fuck-himself”. Obviously I don’t. She regains control of the situation… and says something like, “I, don’ know…it’s that I wanted to tell you that I’ll be back in an hour and a half.” On the other end of the line, there was perhaps a sigh. And I, in the meantime, start thinking again, “tell-him-to-fuck-himself”.
Finally, she tells him that maybe she was wrong to call and she was sorry that she had bothered him. He hangs up she looks at her phone. Bianca breathes heavily, I seem to hear her lungs ask her for a bit more air. Shecloses her eyes and falls asleep, managing somehow fight off a solitary tear. I close my eyes too, maybe the two of us can launch a counterattack.
I think of the words of the old man I often meet near my house: “Hey kid, love is a whore. First it seduces you with its lilac perfume and then it abbandons you like an old rag used too many times. I had a good time my whole life, I don’t even remember how many women I’ve been with…but they, they surely remember! Of course now I’m 70 and I’m alone like a dog, but think of the freedom!” And he continued like this, saying that there are people whose souls are destined for greater things, that being tied to one person until you tear your hair out, is only for “simple” people.
With my eyes closed, I hear Bianca clutching her heart in her chest, I say to myself that there is nothing “simple” in any of this. And that what the old man said was bullshit. Tomorrow I’ll see him and I’ll tell him not to give me bullshit. I know that he too cried like Bianca. Me, him, Bianca and everyone in the world who is on this train at least once in their lives reeled because of that whore with the lilac perfume.
The train stops. In the distance I see my sister with One Hundred Years of Solitude in her hand. The echo of the city of Macondo seems to reach track 11, where next to me, Bianca wakes up and smiles.
“Air,” said Marquez, ” had an ingenuous density, as it they had just invented it.”