A heavy drop detached from an enormous grey cloud and headed down through little shy white clouds, then through the fingers of a statue and hit the pedestal. A breath of wind threw a few droplets towards the face of a young woman who was standing right beside the monument. She was looking up—first at the fixed expression of the statue, then at the clouds gathering above.
She felt the damp breeze and asked herself with indifference: “Will it rain or will it not?” Then she turned around and looked at the street, at the cars and passersby.
It was a hot August afternoon; the clouds were gathering one-by-one like cannons on the firing line. A storm was approaching, one of the last—maybe the last of the magnificent shows of thunder and lightning that happened so often that summer.
Flashes of lightning were piercing the sky in the distance. There, in that direction, she was to go today. She—Camelia, the woman who was looking at the street, towards the flashes.
Five years ago, when she married a comrade slightly older and with a good position in the Party, she didn’t consider that one day she would need to leave. Nonetheless, now she had decided the time had come. Something was pushing her with a power similar to the power of the air masses that pushed the storm towards the city. Perhaps this wasn’t a good decision. Who knows?
A raindrop ran down the side window of a black car. “Will it rain or will it not?” The passenger sitting in the back asked himself with indifference. The car stopped short in the city’s main square.
“Send my best wishes to mom and dad. Tell them not to forget me,” he said hastily to the driver while getting out of the car and shutting the door. He moved swiftly from the vehicle as it drew away quietly, like an ethereal black ghost. It occurred to him to send a word to his wife—a match arranged by his parents—but then he remembered that right now she was busy with a new affair, one of her many.
The young man straightened up and breathed a full chest of the humid and familiar air of the provincial city that he was to leave forever. He was very happy to see Camelia near the statue’s pedestal.
She stood there with her back turned to him and she was looking in another direction. He approached her slowly and took her by her waist. Camelia recognized him and fell gently into his arms.
“We can’t be late, the plane won’t wait,” said he and hit the pocket that had something hard inside—the passports. They had only a few hours to reach the capital where the only international airport was. She agreed with a gesture and they went slowly along the city’s main square. They did this as a ritual, out of a formal feeling, in order to prove to themselves they were moving towards the destination and were not standing still. The truth was they didn’t really want to leave.
Outside, the thunder roared and, from far away, some car horns were accompanying. All of a sudden, the doors of the town’s railway station flew open, creating a blaring sound in its usually quiet hall and allowing a young couple holding hands to enter. They barely escaped the rain. The train was leaving in a moment. Did they walk so much through the city besieged by lightning?
They were in such a hurry that they almost hit an old man and his wife who were also rushing to the train. Camelia and Valentin muttered a quick excuse and hastily climbed the stairs of the first class car and found the compartment. There wind was gone. They looked at each other. There was no more doubt. Valentin kissed her tenderly as she leaned on his shoulder. The train moved.
Right then, the couple they had met on the platform entered the compartment smiling politely. The man removed his vest and put it on his wife’s shoulders. She uttered a quiet merci. Then he took some things out of his bag, one of which was a reflex camera.
Valentin was closely following the reflection of the man’s movements in the window. When the man noticed, he pretended that he was looking outside at the trees that seemed to be racing with the train. Afterwards, he took out his vest and covered Camelia’s legs. They didn’t have any luggage; there wasn’t time for that. They were leaving as other people, with fake identities. But it didn’t matter anymore. They were together.
At some point it seemed that a rush of dense water broke through the sky. The day looked like night. From time to time lightning bolts lit the sky. It was warm and cozy in the compartment. Valentin was tired, and he made himself comfortable. Camelia fell asleep with her head resting on his chest. He embraced her with all his strength, so that he wouldn’t lose her, and fell asleep too.
It is said that in some very rare cases, the dreams of those sleeping together intertwine and fuse. Probably, this was one of those times.
Valentin met Camelia in a garden filled with magnificent flowers. He put his arms around her and pointed to the morning sun that was shining with unusual strength. Absorbed by this reverie they heard from far away a soft click and it seemed the Earth’s star glared, blinding them like the flash of a camera.
Then they looked towards the setting sun as its reddish rays struck through a few fuzzy clouds. Is time running that fast? – And walked towards the sunset.
The train was rushing wildly. Raindrops were squarely hitting the square window, which framed the darkness beyond while also resembling that famous black square painting. The storm was getting stronger.