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I thought it was going to be a wild adventure, I thought it was going to be an expedition for finding myself. We’d been wandering throughout the whole world in search of a sweet moment of peace, and now we’d stopped in Ebro.

Ebro, such an arid city. There weren’t any speakeasies, any eye-catching plazas or any luxury I was used to.

Taken by surprise, I saw a pub. I told him to take me there.

I sat down. He leaned towards me and smiled with his charming crooked smile, his dark blue eyes glimmering. He looked at the empty glasses on the table.

What should we drink?” I asked matter-of-factly.

It’s pretty hot,” he answered with his deep raspy voice.

Let’s get some beer.” I glanced at the waitress.

Dos cervezas,” he said towards her.

As the young woman turned around, he checked her out thoroughly. Then he looked at me with a guilty smirk.

Other girls would have been annoyed by all this, but well, he’s Marco Santos. Looking at other women was something he did many times every day.

The waitress brought back two pints of beer and two felt pads.

Marco nodded and bit his lip.

I raised my eyebrows and looked away from him. I cast a glass at the hills in the distance. They were golden white in the sun and the country was brown and dry.

They look like white elephants,” I murmured.

I’ve never seen one,” he said after taking a sip from his beer.

No, you wouldn’t have.”

I might have,” he said. “Just because you say I wouldn’t have doesn’t mean anything.”

How couldn’t it mean anything? It means everything. At least that’s how books portray relationships between a man and woman. But then books are all illusions for the young to clutch at whatever hope there still is. Books hide the stone-cold reality of our pathetic lives.

In books they talk about a thing called love and there is the sweet sensation of safety and trust. In reality, everyone is wearing a mask and it’s a privilege to truly see a soul. The only thing that exists is either boredom or chaos. I knew that Marco acknowledged reality and he knew how to play the game. He knew how to twist anyone around his little finger. It was only a matter of time till he’d get tired and start breaking hearts again. Well, that’s how he got his name: Marco, the heartbreaker. I’d never bothered to ask much about his past, because I didn’t actually care. I was here just to have a good time, definitely trying not to fall in love.

I suddenly turned around and glanced at the bead curtain. I noticed that there was something written on it.

What does it say?” I asked.

Anis del Toro. It’s a drink,” he responded.

Can we try it?” I asked again.

Do whatever you want, my darling.”

I called the waitress and ordered some of this exotic stuff. It was shoved in seconds in front of us. I drank quickly and finished the shot instantly.

It tastes like licorice,” I said putting the glass down.

That’s the way with everything,” he replied coldly.

Yes, everything tastes like licorice. Especially the things you’ve waited so long for.”

Oh, cut it off!” For a brief moment, his lips became thin white, and I could swear that there was a thunderstorm steering up in his beautiful eyes.

You started it. I was just trying to have a jolly time.” I looked blankly at the empty glasses on the table.

I knew that I shouldn’t be afraid of him, but here I was. Feeling intimidated by a man. Everything had been an accident. I’d never intended to go to that room, I’d never intended to drink that much champagne, I’d never intended to fall in love in just one night.

But then that’s when he kissed me the first time, that night. The way I felt when he pressed his lips against mine. The fire in my bones. My soul turned liquid. For the first scent time, every part of me, ALIVE. As we were drowning in the sweet of alcohol, he’d suddenly stopped. “I want…” His fingers were playing with my hair. “Never mind what I want.”

What do you want?” I asked. This time he leaned over me and murmured into my ear, “I want you.”

Suddenly, I snapped back to reality.

Well, let’s try and have a jolly time.” He looked at me with concern.

All right, I was just trying to. I said the mountains looked like white elephants, wasn’t that bright?”

That was bright,” he sighed.

I wanted to try this new drink. That’s all we do, isn’t it ? Look at new things and try new drinks?”

I guess so.”

I looked across at the hills. “They’re lovely hills,” I said. “They don’t really look like white elephants. I just meant the coloring of their skin through the trees.”

He stared at the hills with a blank expression.

Oh darling, can I ask where your mind is wandering now?”

Should we have another drink?” He avoided answering my question.

All right.”

The warm wind blew the bead curtain against the table. My blonde hair shone in the sun. I smiled with the look I knew I’d mastered. The look of innocence. I was carrying truth in my eyes, molded stones of love and tragedy, freckled constellations of pleasure and pain from a life’s true story. One glance at this pure innocence would make any man fall for me. But not this one.

He was nothing but trouble, even chaos, but that was the plot twist that had pushed me to fall in love so unexpectedly.

The beer is nice and cool,” he said.

It’s lovely.” I fluttered my eyelashes and blushed. I was begging for attention.

It’s a very simple operation, Liz. So simple that it doesn’t feel like an operation at all.”

I opened my mouth, then shut it again. This was the exact opposite of what I had wanted. I looked at the ground and didn’t say anything. Sometimes, silence says more than a thousand words.

I know that you wouldn’t mind it, Elle. It’s really not anything. It’s just to let the air in.”

I could feel the warm air blowing in my face. I took a deep breath and said.

Marco, I am a grown woman, I need to take this matter into my own hands. And for God’s sake, call me Eliza!” My voice sounded harsher than I intended.

I know you’re afraid. I’ll go with you and stay with you. They just let the air in and it’s perfectly natural, Liz.”

And after that? What are we going to do after that?” I shifted uncomfortably in my seat.

We’ll be fine afterward, just like we were before.” He was getting visibly frustrated.

What makes you think so?” I thought about all the promises he’d made. All those convincing and seducing words he’d said with so much ease had all been lies, just lies. We only eat lies when our hearts are hungry. And I’d been famished.

Two months ago, he’d told me that I’d be fine, perfectly fine. But if we were fine, why were we fleeing from one country to another?

He’d told me that he was trying to discover who he was, and that the military wasn’t suitable for such an artist like him. He’d changed his name, abandoned his legacy, left the country with only a passport, and, of course, my hand.

That’s the only thing that’s bothered us. It’s the only thing that’s made us unhappy,” he said.

But my love, we’ve never actually been happy.” I looked at him. He was surprised to hear that. I knew that I was high maintenance, and I was becoming a burden to him. This was the first time I’d ever been so sincere with him. It had been pleasant living in a fantasy, but truth was already catching up with us.

Come on, at least you know that we’d be happy after that. I’ve known a lot of people who have done it, and they were all so happy,” he said. “Trust me, darling.”

It’s so hard to trust you when the past is evidence of why I shouldn’t.” I knew I was right this time. Everyone had told me to think with my head, not that thing in my chest, but I hadn’t listened, and right now I was full of regret.

Well,” Marco said, “if you don’t want to, you don’t have to. I wouldn’t have you do it if you didn’t want to. But I know it’s perfectly simple.”

And you are still pressuring me?” I deeply questioned his motives.

That’s the best decision you could ever make, think about it. I ran away from the war, I gave up all my fortune to be with you, only with you. Not with another person, not even with a creature created by us,” he said.

So if I do it, you’ll be happy and everything will be like it was before and you will love me,” I said.

Oh darling, I am sure that we’ll live in perfect luxury and opulence. I can’t really say I love you, though. Fond of you, care about you, wouldn’t want to lose you, of course. But love is such a strong word. It means commitment and responsibility, and yet, we are so… juvenile.”

I smiled and nodded. Behind that smile, I knew that I was falling apart. How foolish of me. French poetry was so fallacious. Victor Hugo had been hugely mistaken when he’d claimed: “Aimer, c’est vivre. Aimer, c’est voir. Aimer, c’est être.” Love isn’t just being, It’s suffering, it’s pain.

I looked at him. Suddenly I felt tired, as if the world drained me of all I had.

Fine, I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about myself.”

What do you mean?”

I don’t care about myself.”

Well, I care about you.”

Oh, yes. But I don’t care about myself. And I’ll do it and then everything will be just fine.”

I don’t want you to do it if you feel that way.”

I stood up and walked to the end of the station. There were only two sets of tracks, each presumably taking trains in a different direction. It was getting cooler. As the breeze fiddled with my long blonde locks, I breathed in deep. I felt the oxygen clearing my head.

And we could have all this,” I said. “And we could have everything and every day we make it more impossible to happen.”

What did you say?” he asked.

I said we could have everything.”

We can have everything, of course we can, my dear, because we have power. We’ve earned it.”

No, we can’t. And that is what you don’t understand.”

We can have the whole world.”

No, we can’t.”

We can go everywhere.”

No, we can’t. It isn’t ours anymore.”

It’s ours.”

No, it isn’t. And once they take it away, you never get it back.”

But they haven’t taken it away.”

We’ll wait and see.”

Come on back in the shade,” he said. “You mustn’t feel that way.”

I don’t feel any way,” I said. “I just know things.”

Oh God, how could emptiness feel so heavy?

I don’t want you to do anything that you don’t want to do—”

Nor anything that’s not good for me,” I said. “I know. Could we have another beer?”

Sure. Just tell me what’s wrong. I care, you know I care.”

There’s nothing to say.”

To say “I just want you” would have sounded too eager. To say “I just need you” would have sounded too vulnerable. To say “I love you” would have sounded the worst of all, because that would have meant that I had to face the truth, the truth of one-sided love. He didn’t love me, and that was that. I decided to keep silent.

After a short while, I stood up and went inside the pub, saw the waitress and asked: “Cuando sale el próximo tren?

She looked at her watch and said, “Cinco minutos, señorita.”

I thanked her and went to grab my luggage.

Marco gaped at me and asked, “You understand the Spanish tongue?”

Perhaps now’s the time for you to understand that I am not an imprudent young girl. There are a lot of cosas que you don’t sabes about me.” I turned away from him.

I’m tired,” I told him, just wishing, really wishing things between us had been different.

Why would you be tired?” he asked.

I looked at him, and felt my heart aching inside me.

I am tired of loving you the way I do,” I said. I looked one last time at those blue eyes that were so deep that I wanted to drown in them, and said, “I’m leaving.” As I walked away, silver tears started rolling down my cheek. I felt as if the moon had cracked in the middle and the stars had vanished from the sky. All my world had fallen apart with one sentence.

Somehow, I was still hoping that Marco would come rushing to me, telling me that everything would be fine and that he did love me. But I wasn’t that naive. Loving him was a perfect form of self-destruction, and yet I was addicted to him.

I walked to the very end of the platform. The wind shuttered and shuffled my hair. It was getting dark. My heart was heavy, filled with thoughts about life and death. We always come crashing like shooting stars. With our broken hearts, is there anything in the world really worth fighting for? Perhaps ending it all will mean a moment of peace and serenity. It would be the only way of escaping all this. But if I jumped, I’d have to accept that because of my selfishness I’d murdered an innocent human being and destroyed the gift of life that had been given to it. If I chose to jump, it would be the most egocentric decision possible. But what was there to live for anyway?

The sound of metal rubbing against the tracks was getting louder and louder. My heartbeat seemed to follow the same accelerating pace. I was facing the final steps of my life. Was I brave enough or cowardly enough to take a leap of faith? Suddenly, I saw a scintillating light and it snapped me back to reality. Perhaps, I saw a glimpse of hope or of my strongest desires… The express had entered the station. The train was beautifully made. Carved cursive letters announced its name: “The Aurora Express,” adding “Since 1909.” I was still in shock, but now I knew that fleeing from all my problems and regrets was spineless. Moreover, the similarity with Anna Karerina would have been ironic. I refused to be a “damsel in distress.”

As I looked on my right side, I saw the platform that was full of busy people boarding the exquisite express train. When I turned my eyes to my left side, I saw the lonely bar where Marco was sitting cross-legged and with a smirk on his face, as if he expected me to come running back into his arms.

Where shall I go?” I wondered. “To the right, where nothing is left? Or the left, where nothing is right?”

I cast a final glance at the scenery of Ebro, held tightly to my one-way ticket to the border of Russia and got on the train.

Perhaps I was going to seek a great perhaps.


Perhaps you didn’t like the ending of my story. You may want to know what happened to Marco, or what happened to the baby, or if I have found my “great perhaps.” As I am the writer, I’ll leave some uncertainty here; as you’re the reader, you must simply embrace it. 


I am a Romanian girl who lives in Taiwan and is 16 years old. I have a thirst of getting published. 

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