AUGUST 27, Trains to Barcelona:

The manservant wakes us before five and shares the morning’s newspaper. I am desperately hung over and still well more than half-drunk.

A sketch of my face accompanies your photo, along with the jeering title: Salome and her ‘John’.

We dress quickly, urgently, and flee. The groundskeeper drives us to the train in Montpellier.

Our possessions: Two bags. And this poster tube, a testament to our mutual commitment and seemingly inevitable conflagration.

He leaves us huddled in the car, and goes to buy our tickets. We lean into each other, sweating in the stale air and our reek of alcohol.

Your temple is feverish against my forehead. I draw my palm across your shorn hair, hovering then compressing its myriad ends.

The groundskeeper opens your door. You get out and I slide across. He hands me the tickets and indicates the quai.

I shake his hand, nod once, and turn into the station.

Our faces are plastered across half the publications of the Tabac-Presse.

They are calling us other names: The White Queen and her King. Bonnie & Clyde.

My pulse rises, I wretch, taste the acidic bile surge through my throat and wash over my tongue. Your hand at my elbow, draws me on.

You, attempting at reassurance, murmuring: In plain sight. In plain sight.

Then you let out the signal whistle. It’s shrill descending notes fill the hall, drawing all eyes to us. I remember: this is our story.

Me, shifting my posture, matching your gate, proud, repeating the mantra: In plain sight.

We find our wagon, push through the pneumatic doors into air-conditioned comfort. We fall into our seats and sleep undisturbed.

—–

A light jostle from the conductor wakes us in Perpignan. We change trains and are reminded, again, that our reputation precedes us.

You, out on the concourse, pointing toward a news kiosk: Should we ask someone to take a picture of us with all these pictures of us?

Me, shaking my head, feeling less awful but still awful: How can you be so relaxed, so confident?

You, drawing your eyes up to mine and bringing a thumb across my lips: Because it’s almost over. Come on.

We board the next train to Barcelona, take the stairs to the upper deck. A bathroom between the seating and luggage rack.

You, looking back at me: It’s been awhile since we’ve made proper use of public transportation. One more time?

Me, incapable of saying no: Now, you’re making me nostalgic.

We slip through the door, bring the lock in place. Over the loudspeaker, station stops and travel times are announced in multiple languages.

In a sing-song voice, you mimic the varied bubblings of Catalan of German of French while I work on getting my pants down to my ankles.

Your back is turned to me. I admire the crease of your ass, the way your thighs fall away.

We watch each other in the mirror, relaxing in this miniature realm of privacy. We are laughing, kissing, as I glide in and out.

The train embarks, and our wagon jumps as the couplings tighten. I am driven off-balance, deeper into you.

You, cross-eyed with pleasure: What a way to leave France.

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