Sunday, July 7

Sie Sind Schön

WHEN I BOARDED THE train, the evening was still young; the sun was not yet upon the horizon; I was not terribly drunk. After work, a friend and I had gone for a few drinks in a good bar filled with many beautiful women. It was a Friday night and the place, so soon after payday, was filling up. Beyond the window, summer was there – at long last – and maybe everybody was celebrating that. We had a good time, drinking cloudy German beer, and discussing music very excitedly because, for both of us, music was such a love; other men might reveal scars and tell stories in the same giddy manner. With every drink, I was hoping he would not return home to his wife.
Eventually he did. I was very sad. I wished to drink and to get drunk, blind drunk, to fall on the floor and have to be picked up. Instead I was walking through the other crowds outside other pubs, scowling, staring at the floor, kicking bits of rubbish.
It was with great resistance that I boarded the train home, when the evening was still young. I thought – ‘Go to another bar, drink alone, make friends,’ but I knew my mood would not be good for that. I asked Laura if she was in town, but she didn’t reply. It would have been good to see her when the sun was still shining. Either way, I left.
A girl sat in front of me.
A girl ruined my evening.
I was exhausted. I was drunk. I would have fallen asleep right away, and gladly taken the rest, but I could not stop staring at this girl, this stranger, who was in front of me on the train. She was stunning. And, more than that, she was interested. She was interested in the world that passed by the train windows. Rather than the others who put their heads down and thought of nothing of other things of home of no work of work of things to do of no death, she stared out of the window and her lively eyes (I noticed) took in everything with an alien keenness. She had brown eyes that allowed a trace of blue to linger in them so that, now, saying they were brown, I feel I am lying to myself. Her skull was long; her nose was long (and big, pronounced maybe, defined, it had peaks and troughs and shapes in it that were all fighting for attention!); her neck was long; her hair was long. (The passengers all opened the windows above their seats and) the wind flew in and I watched, with an immoveable gaze, the way strands of her hair blew about with no mind other than to dance in the air.
‘She is not a passenger on this line,’ I realised – ‘No regular passenger would look the way she does out of the window, as if it were for the first time, as if everything out there, touched by the reclining sun, were holy and new, like something born in a hospital before 1914.’
‘Sleep!’ I told myself. Yet I could not! A girl got on beside me, and she, too, was a delight to behold. I could not sleep. I was half-drunk. I was smitten with the girl in front of me.
I soon began to wonder if she was looking at me out of the corner of her eye. That angle, the way she stared, she could certainly see me, so that when I stared and she stared, I did not move away. A tremendous blubbering occurred in my guts when we held eye contact like that. After many stops, she was still there.
A break in my music… she’s German… speaking on the phone in German. ‘Certainly not possible she’s English!’ I thought up a fantasy where we fell in love, shared a flat, made love & delicious food every night.
What is ‘You are beautiful’ in German? I learned German so long ago. Du … ist… I went through all the adjectives I could recall. Is it the formal? I wasn’t sure. The internet came to my aid… (So that’s how you say it). I contemplated telling her in her native tongue but nervousness overcame me, defeated me. How fearful I was! As much as I tried to tell myself that I had nothing to lose, it was no use.
Sie sind schön.
She stood up when it got to her stop. Taking her eyes from the scenery was beyond her. Still, she looked at me. I looked at her. She left. She did not look back.
Sie sind schön.
That’s how you say it.

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