By Simon Linington
Evangeline called from Mexico City and said what she had to say, “Goodbye Simon.”
I’ve heard it before. In front of me on a wicker stool my packet of cigarettes. I pick it up with my right hand and turn it over to see a picture of a small boy looking at a gravestone. Only the back of the gravestone is visible.
With my right thumb, I flip open the lid of the packet and with my left thumb and first finger, I squeeze the butt of a cigarette to pull it out from the pack. I always do this when a pack is full or nearly full and I tell myself it’s because I have fat fingers but I don’t know if this is true. I return the packet to the stool and take the cigarette in my right hand.
I force my left hand down into the pocket of my denim shorts to look for a lighter. It’s the clear one, my favorite lighter. With the cigarette now in my mouth, I raise the lighter to meet it and push the flint wheel down toward me with my right thumb, nearly jamming it. I am shaking.
The end of the cigarette is a burst of orange and smoke fills the air. The first hit is long, longer than usual and the second is even longer. The dry Spanish breeze wraps the smoke around my head and in my hair and it disappears over my shoulders.
“I’m sorry, Simon. This is very hard for me.”
I wanted to say something beautiful about love and I wanted you to tell me it was a mistake and you were sorry and I wanted you to mean it, but there was nothing left to say.
“This is embarrassing for me,” she said.
It wasn’t long before the phone went dead and I was holding it down by my side. I was looking somewhere above the fireplace toward the corner of the room, at the edge of the tiles or an insect maybe, I don’t know. I remember how the sunlight looked as it wrapped itself around the wall in front of me, turning it grey. Everything was grey and the world was slowing down. The birds stopped flapping their wings and the trees stopped their dance with the breeze and on the Sierra Cazorla, climbers stopped climbing and I was no longer hungry or tired and I was no longer anything at all.
I took a step toward the stool and put both hands flat on the top to let it take my weight and then it all went black.
I am slowly falling headfirst through the air. I don’t know what from because I don’t remember being there, wherever I was. I hold my arms outstretched and I can feel the air move between my fingers and blow my hair up and over the top of my head. I like falling like this, slowly, with my arms outstretched.
I see the grey, wide arch of a bridge and I think it must be a long bridge but I can’t see where it has come from or where it is going. Did I fall from there?
The foot of the bridge is met by a bank of damp grass and I count 11 large rubbish bags piled high. Some are black, others white, and all are tied at the top. A short distance from these I see an open carrier bag. It is red, or not-quite red and as I fall toward the ground, the bag gets bigger and bigger and I close my eyes and everything is red. I think I’m inside the carrier bag.
I remember what a friend once told me about lucid dreams and thinking I could be in one, I decide to try opening my eyes. Yes, it works. Now I will try and say something. “Hello?” It’s the first thing that comes out.
On my right side appears a mouth with bright red lips. It hovers a foot in front of me and several inches above my mouth. The top of the upper lip is further forward than the bottom of the upper lip, which angles it toward the much fuller lower lip. There is a small opening between both lips, revealing two wide flat front teeth separated by a generous gap.
“He-loooo dhaarling.” I’m certain it’s a woman’s voice, but I don’t recognize her.
“Who are you?”
“I am eh voll-cano.”
“A volcano?” I ask, whilst thinking what it would be like to sleep with her.
“Yis, my head es eh voll-cano en sometimes I thiink my thoughts will explode en hurt me.”
“Are you going to explode?”
“Hahaha, es not eh reeeal voll-cano en eh reeeal world, but en my head I thiink es rreallly rrealll.”
“I thought I might be dreaming but…”
“No dhaarling, this es reeeal en we ar reeeal.”
“Yis, but I don’t know ef we shood be here together, I wel ask Francisco ef et es cool.”
“Who is Francisco?”
“He es en charge here.”
The mouth is swallowed by the red that surrounds us and standing here alone, I notice my stomach is making long rumbling sounds that spiral from one side of my stomach to the other. When I find the way out of the carrier bag, I will go to La Bomba in town and order a pizza. I wouldn’t normally choose pizza, but I would like to eat a Margherita and after that I will order a hamburger with cheese and a side order of fries and then I will smoke a cigarette. I will order a beer and a mojito with the food and when I have drunk those, I will order more cocktails. I will drink as many cocktails and smoke as many cigarettes as I can and when I have had enough of La Bomba, I will go to the supermercado and buy several bars of milk chocolate. I don’t want to eat and drink as much as I can because I want to be fat, but because I want to taste everything at once.
“Dhaarling.” The mouth is back.
“Francisco say et es okay ef yu ar here wit mee because he es busy making eh ta-tu.”
“Yes dhaarling, eh ta-tu. Yu would like eh ta-tu?”
“No, no, I don’t think so.”
I was looking at the mouth and the mouth was facing me and we were both silent for a moment, and from somewhere out there, I could hear music and laughter and the clinking of glass.
“Whaat dhaarling?” said the mouth.
“I want to kiss you.”
I had never kissed a mouth that wasn’t on a face before and I thought it would be a fun story to tell my friends so I took a step forward and went on tiptoes to get closer. I tilted my head toward my right shoulder and closed my eyes and the mouth opened around mine. It wasn’t how I thought it would be.
I could see a mountain surrounded by an azure sky through the walls of a white single-story house. Two people were climbing the mountain, a man and a woman. The man was climbing the left side of the mountain and the woman was climbing the right side. It reminded me of a conversation I had with Evangeline in a taco bar on what would have been my last night in Mexico City had my plane not broken down on the runway.
It was then, whilst I was kissing the mouth and thinking about the mountain climbers that I felt the bristled muscular contractions of the worm as it writhed and wiggled its way from the inside of the mouth into mine. I could have pulled away, but I didn’t because I was enjoying myself.
It was strange to feel the worm wiggling around inside my body, but it didn’t bother me. It ate whatever it could find and grew bigger and bigger until my stomach wasn’t big enough for it anymore and it was in my chest, arms, legs, and head. It wore me like a puppet and I imagined it could see the same things as me and even knew what I was thinking. And then one day, after swimming at the pool in Velez Rubio, it had gone and I didn’t know where to find it.
When the worm was inside me, I could only think about it and now I remember all the things I used to think about before it was there. I even named the worm, it was called Evangeline too.