Blue Infinity, Red Heart

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
‘Go on then!’ she dared me, ‘Open it!’
Girl, Freckles, Tube, 00:45, Buckhurst Hill
Updated: 17.05.19
from the forthcoming anthology: Is It Today?
Photo: Joshua Hanson on Unsplash

Submitted: March 06, 2019

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Submitted: March 06, 2019

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We met by chance after midnight on the last train home. I had spent the evening dancing in the aisles to my favourite band at their sell-out concert at the London Arena. Worn their hallmark navy tee-shirt over my faded denims and scuffed plimsolls. Avidly read their unique message to me, their wonderful fan, in the glossy programme. By the time I changed trains at Stratford I was ready for my bed.

I stood in front of the yellow line and scanned the train indicator for signs of life. The eastbound platform was crowded: late-night revellers, drunken party-goers, baying football supporters in red-and-white scarves. A few residual rock fans. And a handful of shattered City slickers. All trying to stay cool in the stultifying, sudorific heatwave.

The opposite platform was deserted, save for a young couple engaging in mock fisticuffs. I watched with alarm as the teenage girl ran off to the exit leaving the boy doubled up in pain beside the platform edge. Then my train arrived, erasing the scene from view, prompting unanswered questions.

A brace of exhausted passengers shoved their way off the train as I was swept aboard by the jostling throng. There was an end seat free. Instinctively, I glanced up. Seeing that there wasn’t a blue sign insisting that I vacate my seat for the disabled, pregnant women or those less able to stand, I sat down.

The unusual young woman sitting opposite me disappeared behind an incoming wave of wet tee-shirts, damp vests, and dry, short-sleeved summer shirts.

No sooner had the train entered the tunnel than it lurched to a halt. The driver told us not to lean on the doors. Nobody listened The train edged forward with a jolt. An unpleasant yob swung onto me reeking of whisky, her affinity for me marred by her blue language. I cringed. I breathed her stale, acrid sweat.

I am claustrophobic. The sweltering, airless carriage was my cell. The driver announced that we weren’t going anywhere until passengers stopped leaning on the doors. I reddened. The programme felt clammy in my hand. My mouth was saltpan-dry. Why did I throw away my half-drunk, half-litre of strawberry-scented water?

I pictured its plastic bottle. Dissipating on some far-off exotic beach. Asphyxiating a sea turtle or a baby dolphin. Returning to my body as particulates. Penetrating my stomach wall. Worming its way deep into my unsuspecting viscera. After that, I must have either fallen asleep - or passed out.

I felt a cool breeze on my face as the door slid open. A female voice announced Woodford. The coach emptied, the doors closed. Refreshed, I scanned the carriage. It was empty, almost. I tried very hard not to stare at the unusual young woman.

Instead, I studied the advert panel above her head. The holiday ad featured a deliriously happy young couple cavorting on a sunny beach. The man was wearing a sky-blue tee-shirt and stone summer shorts. The woman wore a mustard swimsuit. She was piggy-backed onto him, twiddling her sandy toes, fascinated by the sky’s blue affinity with the flat, foamy, azure sea. The header read:

Blue Infinity: The Holiday of a Lifetime!

My heart sank. I felt lonely. I couldn’t help myself. My eyes fell on her. She was red-faced, full of blush, and red-haired. Her deep, golden-red locks tumbled like a lion’s mane over her bare shoulders. The strangest-looking, most beautiful woman I had ever seen.

She wore a shiny red leather miniskirt, a lightweight geranium vest, and pineapple leather-luxe trainers. Thick ginger tufts of hair sprouted from under her armpits. Her face was plastered with freckles. Unsightly tan blemishes dwelt in her scalp, clearly visible under her thin ginger hair. Congealed blotches of brun massed upon her chest, the crease between her breasts. Invasive speckling tanned her bare arms and legs.

I was intrigued by her bovine face, her cherry lips, her utterly wasted body. Every inch of her sun-bit, dappled, mottled, skin. She was staring, nervously, at her hands as if she found the sheer intensity of her freckling embarrassing.

I wondered if she only ventured out after dark, to spare her blushes. Her hands were rested firmly in her lap. In those hands she clutched a small package, about the size of my clenched fist. A parcel, that was clearly labelled:

Fragile! Handle with Care!

There was handwritten scrawl spread like italic graffiti over the wrapping paper. Her message? What it said I couldn’t begin to imagine. She raised her head and looked me straight in the face.

‘I noticed you watching me.’

I felt my cheeks turn puce, my mouth stumble over my lips. ‘I’m sorry, I was only…’

 

Her freckles intoxicated, wearied me. I rubbed my eyes, my bearded face. ‘Yes, but I…’

‘In case you were wondering, they go on forever,’ she sighed wearily, ‘like me.’

I shook my head. Had a long day, dreamy, wanted my bed. ‘Sorry, what did you just say?’

 

I hesitated at first. Admiring the smiling, bearded young man in the advert as he cavorted on the beach. The laughing, freckled redhead, piggy-backing onto him, twiddling her sandy toes. Their love! The sky! It’s blue infinity! I asked myself: What, on Earth, have I got to lose?

‘Yes, I would,’ I decided.

As we approached murky Buckhurst Hill, she leaned forward and passed me her package. Inscribed beneath the label were the words:

Sacred! Blue Infinity!

If I’m absolutely honest, I was nervous. I had my doubts.

‘Go on then!’ she dared me, ‘Open it!’

I tore open the sky-blue wrapper, unfolded the soft velvet pouch, pulled out the polythene bag… and dropped it on the floor. Splat! The bag split on impact, its contents spilling out in an untidy, sloppy pool. Lying, beating, rhythmically in all the scarlet blood, her ruptured sac.

Her red, bleeding, heart…

She leaned forward, careful to avoid her slop, spreading over the dirty floor, and seized my shaking hand. I’m sorry, I don’t know how to describe this, but she levitated with me? I felt her lift me up, take me up to a higher place?

We ascended, hand-in-hand, gland-in-gland. There was a wrench, a cracking, splitting, sound as the roof of the train tore open. The roof peeled off like an unfurled banana skin, revealing a starry night sky, crescent moon, shooting stars. I rose in awe of her universe, her strange, compulsive universe.

Oh, my God!

She spun before me, like a freckled top, spinning, madly, in outer space. The freckled woman spoke to me:

‘My name is Karen Blush,’ she said, free, alive, glowing with ruddy health, ‘I live in sacred blue infinity. Would you like me to take you there?’

‘Yes! Yes! I would!’ I begged, forgetting to mention that I was Marc from Buckhurst Hill.

I stared down at the tube train with its torn-off-roof, the crowd, gathered on the platform, star-gazing, cheering us, thrilled for us, as we mounted a star and hurtled through space.Planet Earth, its global warming, its plastic-infused wildlife, its insane PC. All of it, disappearing from view, along with Buckhurst Hill...

I found myself on a sunny beach.

‘Put me down! Put me down!’ she shrieked, deliriously happy.

I let her slide off my back onto the beach. She twiddled her wet, sandy toes, then dashed into the frothing surf. ‘Come on in, the water’s lovely and warm! Enjoy the moment!’

My spirits soared. I waded out to join my love. Our love! Her sky! Our blue infinity!

Her sacred, blue infinity.

My red heart...


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