In Another Country

In Another Country by David Constantine Read Free Book Online

Book: In Another Country by David Constantine Read Free Book Online
Authors: David Constantine
out through the slit on the cold rapid slide of water, lasting in the lighter darkness until they popped. And warm against the man, Lou must have slept and breathed with him a little of the air shipped out from inside in those hemispheres.
    Some while later, sleeping very near the surface and the waters under the earth seeming louder and louder, Lou became aware that Owen was speaking, but to whom, if anybody, and whether in his sleep or waking she could not have said. The voice was close and rapid and even if she were indeed the one addressed, still it felt like eavesdropping. She could not unhear it, any more than she could unsee the sight of him through the garden window the day she suddenly appeared; the words and the sight accrued to her like a power she had not sought but could not disavow. Perhaps he had been speaking for some time and only now, surfacing through their broken sleep, could she hear and understand. I was very young, he said, and perhaps when she said she would keep the baby a secret, though I did love her, in some part of me I thought this lets me off, I can start again and live my life on my own and no harm done. I suppose a woman always knows how much she will love her baby but perhaps a man does not, even if it’s a love child, perhaps he can’t imagine how he will love his child and be loved by her or him and be fastened in lifelong. Or perhaps he can, said Lou. Perhaps he sees as well as the woman he slept with sees. And so you didn’t insist very much when she said the best for all concerned would be you keep her secret and go away. We kept in touch, she wrote me letters once a year at least. And then soon after Natalie’s eighteenth birthday came that photograph and a note she was starting art school in Newcastle on a certain day. I stood five mornings there, it was only on the third I saw her and on the fourth and fifth again. That last day was very bad. I saw her and it went through me. I thought will I ever see the girl again? I left the place, I was almost running down the street, away, and then I stopped and turned and walked very slowly back and there she was, coming out again through the big glass doors, with a look on her face as though she had forgotten or remembered something. And stood on the top step looking down at me, into my eyes, in a puzzled sort of shock. And when I think of it now there was nobody else around, only her and me, and the noise of the street or in my heart and head was like the noise in there, in the dark, behind that slit. After that her mother never wrote to me again and I kept my side of the bargain and never tried to learn about her further life. Funny to think of her, said Lou, going her ways in the world and you going yours and never crossing. If there was a god with nothing better to do he might have amused himself with your lines of life. Yes, said Owen, I read of a man who met his daughter abroad somewhere and fell in love with her and neither knew. They slept together on an island for a week or so and he begged her to marry him and it was only when she agreed and they went home that piece by piece the evidence of who they were came in. Is that what you’re frightened of? Lou asked. You’ve seen her, you’ve got her photograph, it could never happen. Not like that, it couldn’t, not like the man on the island, said Owen. Not in ignorance.
    Lou pondered this; the cave too, so it seemed, mulled the business over, but indifferently, only as an engine, on and on. Like bubbles riding out on the fast cold water, the image of the girl looking down and the man looking up, both seeing deep into one another’s eyes, became very clear to Lou and she said, perhaps aloud, perhaps already asleep and to a man asleep, Like falling in love, I suppose, there and then, the way it happens to some people, the lightning, so go your separate ways and trail the earth apart and you will never forget her nor she you. She slept in Owen’s arms,

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