by F. E. Clark
I saw you in Berlin just after May Day when there were many polizei still around. The chestnut leaves were spring green, laden with white blossom. You were on the platform of the u-bahn, at Potsdamer Platz station.
It was night. I could smell weed and piss and coffee. The street people who live at the station mouth were sitting up in their sleeping bags. A busker was singing — I couldn’t tell what about, but his voice echoed with me as I descended the steps to the platform.
A train clattered in like thunder, drowning the busker out. I made it just in time to see the doors close and the schoolbus-yellow train shuttle off. Two minutes to wait until the next one I could take. It was crowded and hot. I thought I could feel the ground below me undulate with the passing trains. I counted my stops on the u-bahn map, then stood looking at the wall across the tracks with its white and green tiles and billboards advertising “shopping experiences.”
I heard you before I saw you.
You were shouting, angry words — pain and fury. At first I thought it was a performance, but people were edging away from you, turning their backs, making faces at each other, and you seemed to be alone. Though, you could have been reciting the recipe for currywurst for all I know — I don’t speak the language. But no, from the pitch of your voice this was something of the heart — of blood and unbearable grief.
They closed this station when the Berlin wall was built.
The crowd shifted, quietening as they realised that something was happening, and I saw you then for just a moment — tall, dressed in grey, neither young nor old, with long, platinum blonde hair, your face red and contorted. You were shouting, as if asking questions, imploring, creating space around yourself by moving, throwing your arms out, pacing one way then the next.
You were so close to the edge, with the deep pits of the train tracks on either side.
The next train roared in. I allowed myself to be carried in the crush of people getting on — losing sight of you as I boarded.
Through the Brandenburg Gate transfers stuck to the windows I thought I saw your bright, shining hair. In the wail and rush of the train beginning to move, I thought I saw your face in profile, cheeks still red, but head held high. I thought I saw you striding towards the exit.
F. E. Clark lives in Scotland. She writes, paints, and takes photographs — inspired by nature in all its forms. A Pushcart, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions nominee, her poetry, flash fiction, and short stories can be found in anthologies and literary magazines. Website: feclarkart.com; Twitter: @feclarkart