Some Other Journey. As the train enters the tunnel, you and your step-sister Rachel lean together and kiss again. Another stolen moment; another secret exchange of flesh. The man near the window, whose outline you can see, seems to be muttering to himself. His outburst of words a few moments ago, made you and Rachel break from your obsession with each other, to turn and stare at him briefly, as if some god had spoken or thunder erupted suddenly on a fine afternoon. The train bursts out into the daylight again and the woman on the opposite side by the window, who had spoken of death to herself or the man opposite her, is clutching her hands tightly, as if she were strangling someone in her wide awake dream, or anxious of some meeting to take place. “I shall meet you by the station entrance,” Rachel had said that morning as you and she passed in the hall of your parents’ house after breakfast. And you had watched as she went up the stairs and observed her blonde hair flowing over her shoulders like rushing water. And you had wanted to touch her hair and feel the texture of it; sense the feeling electrocute you with the excitement of her being so close. Rachel whispers in your ear and the words slip into your consciousness and wind their way round and round, until you feel dizzy with the weight of the words themselves. “And when do you think they’ll realise we’re missing?” you ask in a hushed voice. “Soon, Brian, soon,” she says, her words touching your ears as if they had fingers of their own. “Too late, then. We shall have touched and been blessed,” she adds, her hand touching yours, driving a shock wave through your arm with her mere touch. The man by the window mutters to himself. The woman opposite him digs the fingers of her right hand into the flesh of her left wrist and picks at it like a bird snapping at a worm. The two men who had entered the carriage a few stops before, sit together and seem like fragile eggs unable to touch in case they break or crack by the mere touch of hand or
limbs. You watch their lips as if maybe a word might reveal something of them, but their lips are immobile, stiff, thin, and slightly feminine. Their eyes look out of the window as if they sought relief from their unwelcome aloneness. “I don’t know what you were doing in Rachel’s room, but I don’t want to see you in there again,” your mother had said the night before when she had caught you leaving Rachel’s bedroom. “Just talking, that’s all, “you had replied. “Her father won’t want you sniffing around her,” your mother had said. You reflect on Rachel’s father as you lay your hand on hers and she looks at you and smiles. Your mother and Rachel’s father had met at the hospital where they both worked: she a nurse and he a doctor. They married nine months down the line and you and Rachel found yourselves joined in a relationship that had gradually evolved until this very moment now where you were inseparable. “Where shall we go?” you whisper to Rachel, watching her eyes lift and settle on yours. “Doesn’t matter. As long as we’re together,” she replies, her words soft and fragile. “This is Ryan,” your mother had said the first time she had brought Rachel’s father home with her. “He’s a doctor where I work.” Ryan looked at you and seemed to be summing you up as if he were going to operate on you for some difficult illness and needed you to understand the complications. You had said the usual hello and he responded with a smile and a shake of his hand. It was not until a few weeks later that Rachel was introduced to you. She stood there in the lounge with an uneasy look about her and barely said a word. Except for a nod of your head and a shy smile, you and she sat and stared around the room, avoiding each other’s eyes, as if too frightened to admit that you were both going to be related in a way that neither of you had thought possible a few months before. “Will they try and find us?” Rachel whispers, clutching your hand in hers.
“They’ll try,” you reply, “but it won’t make any difference.” The man by the window turns and gives Rachel a glance. His eyes seem to be moving over her, as if he were thinking of someone other than her, but was thinking of her in terms of another. Rachel looks away from him and looks at you with her eyes bright, and her lips slightly poised, as if she were going to say something, but had decided that nothing she could say could possibly express what she was feeling at that time. You want to hold her closer; hold her next to you and feel her heart beat next to yours; sense her breath on your ear; touch her in a way that you and she only dreamed of until this day. Rachel had dragged you into her room the previous night and had kissed you. Her words were soft, her arms folded themselves about you, as if she did not want you to go until you and she had ventured further than you had dared up until that moment, but after the kiss and short embrace, she released you reluctantly. The train stops at the next station. The platform is empty except for an old man with a small suitcase who enters some carriages away. The man by the window stares out at the man with the suitcase as if willing him to go elsewhere. The woman opposite him brushes her hand through her hair nervously, and then self-consciously pulls at her clothes until they cover her knees. The two men steal a look at each other and exchange smiles. “What if they find us?” Rachel asks. “Doesn’t matter. We’re old enough to make up our own minds,” you reply. And you look at her and see in her eyes that beauty, which from the first moment you and she met, has captured you and wounded you; has undone you and wound themselves into you, until you were completely gored by the beauty of them. And now, you and she, sit hand in hand like two crucified lovers, shaken gently by the moving train, as it begins its journey again, and you and Rachel looking away from each other, feel your joined flesh warm and melt, until the carriage itself seems just an extension of your being, set in metal and wood and cloth. And the scent of humanity filters into you both with a thing called love. A strange, moving, undoing of you both, that hammers into you with the gentle hammering of your hearts.