48h without M


L'absence n'est-elle pas la plus certaine, la plus efficace, la plus vivace, la plus indestructible, la plus fidèle des présences ?

Marcel Proust


Beaumaris is a nice little town at the end of the Menai Strait. Splits Anglesey island from the rest of Wales. Cute and tiny Beaumaris. When weather is good, and in Wales that means isn’t raining while the wind blows, the place is full of floating population. Holidaymakers flock streets, visit the castle or go up to the big wheel beside the strait. They pack the pubs and crowd restaurants in hours that seems odd to us. Too early.  At five in the afternoon I’m not quite sure whether they just finished lunch or are just starting dinner. I must confess they bewild me.

Going breakfast I forgot the phone in the  room. At first it didn’t matters, I was not expecting calls. As much I use it as a clock. As long ago people wore chain watches in the pocket. They took it with the hand and look downward parsimoniously meanwhile opened it. We’ve got a full english breakfast, something not exactly unexpected to imagination, forseeing all the stuff we’ll find on the plate: two slices of lean bacon with a fried egg, half poached tomato, a small handful of sautéed mushrooms, two sausages and other uncertain handful of canned beans with tomato sauce. The whole accompanied by an excessive half slice of bread fried in plenty of butter. A tribute to cholesterol.

Coming back to the room I saw there was a call. I looked at the phone screen and I noticed it comes from M2. I shy it away with the same glance it comes. Since M announced his illness a few months earlier M2 had called not once but was responding to a call or a message. And since M underwent surgery even more so. I went to the window and looked out to the street. A white building with a Tudor air stood beside a shoe store. The markings of the bus stop and parking for disabled, banners with the colors green and white of Wales on the street besides a lonely Union Jack. A Volkswagen van from hippie years rolls towards the end of Castle Street. Clouds in the background and on the houses forecasting a monotonous and repetitive weather. I was trying to avoid the existence of the call. I was trying to ignore what even I knew but was so obvious as the call itself. An absence so present fully occupied the scenery I was watching through the window. And with the suspicion of absence I called back. Only to confirm it. I looked out the window. This time it didn’t went through. Rest on the glass reflecting me the last M image I’ve got, even without being aware that it was truly the last. She look like wealthier ... at least compared to the previous visit, when he was still in intensive care. But the picture that returned the windowpane was her face as she was maybe twenty years ago, perhaps thirty ...

We knew each other from the time we studied together in the high school, and even then a few years had gone, when cool sports were throwing stones to the police or bearings under the hooves of the mounted. It seemed dictatorship ending. Just seemed. I pointed out that we knew from high school, but it’s not entirely true or at least completely right, we shared grade and center but not same classroom, however much of the students used to meet in the bar Canal not yet it was yet famous for the cockroaches that lived under the coffeemachine but potions of  liver with onions, beer marathons, the domino plays and Santiago throwing chairs down to the floor as the evening gathered at the time of closing. Luís unwillingly trust us the drinks. The truth is that the Bar Canal was the center, not of the world, but the universe, though Dalí held that the privilege was for Perpignan railway station. There we met every day for many, many years. There we shared endless chatts from almost adults undergoing to discover a world that did not end very far away. At weekend parties that had just finished until sunrise and not concluded but with mocking comments about the aftermath where we discussed the details of everyone intoxication degree, the nuances of music that seemingly had wrapped us, and spaces and movements, encounters and misunderstandings. Over time teenagers become young who split over according interests and drift of everyone. Eventually we all lose ourselves a little bit.

Saturday give up and ended becaming Sunday. There wasn’t a spontaneous mutation but rigorously tested and timed. I’ve got slept but had nothing in my head than M and its disappearance. It was not real, simple words told by M2 that the facts did not bear out with distance. I would return to my city and would come back to the hospital to visit M who ostensibly would have healed. We’d talk about how soon we’d meet again at her home to celebrate the recovery. But the window glass gave me back other arguments closer to reality. From time to time was becoming transparent and dimly revealing the windows of the buildings opposite and the label of one of the shops: The Wishing Well,  with a phone number and the owner’s name. For a moment I thought to call and get my wish, just one.

And Sunday gave way to Monday metamorphosing as winter does in spring, as does the fall through the winter. It's another day. But different. More stubborn than fate I insisted in my reality, in the absence of absences. But the reality is, sometimes cruel, even absent.

Again facing the window, another window, rain kept this time beyond the vision of the fields in front of my eyes. Violently crahing against the glass distorting vision, weaving a deformed and almosti psychedelic landscape. Droplets shift forming meanders like a river on a flat ground. As the tears of an absence even unknown. There were still words to be spelt, time to be shared. Against the window, the rain was pealing rhythmically. It looked like a music that reminded me  the sixties ballad by Simon & Garfunkel, that one where the rain were falling like a memory mingled with doubts and premature longing. Too premature.

© J.L.Nicolas