FROM MONTAUK WITH LOVE By Maria E. Sandoval Burns How long was too long? I saw this movie once, many years ago: “tomorrow I’ll say “enough.” I don’t remember the plot very well, but the idea was very simple: the actors dilemma in looking for excuses for what’s already defined in our minds, you find the ‘buts’ and the justifications for not taking action, for delaying… tomorrow… tomorrow, was the heavy weighted word they kept saying. “The tomorrow I’ll take care of it”, “ tomorrow”… This thinking was installed in my head all night long. Every night I could hear the rumble of the ocean in my ears. It was as the mysterious talking of my mind flying away with the form of a spirit and briefly, -before the deep sleep- use to escape and visit the beach, my loved beach named Culloden, who was the witness of my suffering, my pain and also my joy in discovering this other ‘entity’ who nourished my self and sustaining the dignity of being alive. I got up earlier than usual. My husband was still asleep but would soon be awake. I needed to hurry. I tried not to make noise, but I was dropping everything; it had been many years since I had experienced this feeling of anxiety and mystery, and that is way I was being so clumsy. I hurriedly changed my clothes, putting on a short black summer dress, sandals with heels that were too high, a light silk jacket, sunglasses, my hair pulled back and a very coquettish silk scarf as an added touch. I left the house flying, like a thief fleeing the scene of the crime. I arrived at the Montauk train station, and I didn’t have any idea how quiet this place was. I just realized this was my first time ever. I waited inside my car. It was 6:15 in the morning. The place looked as those old western movies of black and white, soon the train appeared. I got out of the car; the train conductor was there with his whistle. “Wait! Wait for me! You can’t leave without me…”and I got on the train. Now nothing could put a stop my meeting Elie. Today was our day, the one we had planned for a long and longed for. Around 8 am the train would arrive in Penn Station. “ And if we can’t find each other?” “We’ll find each other… don’t worry. He had answered. Another twenty minutes went by and I heard the conductor announce, “Jamaica is the next stop! Jamaica….” So, another train and I’ll be at your side, Elie. Would he also be feeling nervous? Anxious? Will he be just I imagined him hundreds of times? Who knows…photos are often a long way from being accurate. And I, would I make good impression on him? What a yearning! I thought silently, as in prayer. At times everything seemed to be a dream, because of how nice it was, how risky, because it really yanked me out of the ugly reality of bygone days, opaque, and frustrating. Elie was my magic potion or poison. What did the distance matter or the place? We were the lovers. The train arrived in Jamaica. I got off there, as did the most of the people. I waited around seven minutes for the other train, my accomplice that would take me to my date! I got on with many other people, lost in their own little worlds, looking without seeing. And then the conductor announced that the train was arriving at Penn Station. The doors opened! Immediately the sea of people that pushed in a rush to get off dragged me along, literally, and like automaton. This was unexpected. My eyes looked for Elie. “Where are you?” my heart cried, bursting with desperation. “Where?” How will I find you? I only know you through pictures! And here my beeper does me no good. What to do? Dear God, let him appear, Where is He? Resolved to test my luck, I retraced my steps to the same place where I’d got off the train, to the Long Island exit, and in doing so I passed so many faces-angry, indifferent, looking like they’d just woken up from a bad sleep. Almost convinced that it would be stupid to persist and impossible to find each other amid this sea of human beings, I kept on walking. From far away, leaning against a huge column, I saw a young man smiling at me. He opened his arms and walked triumphantly toward me. I couldn’t believe it. Was it he? Is it he? Elie? Yes! It has to be him! He is coming toward me… Elie, you were there! After almost and hour of fruitless searching, we were looking each other walking slowly, like the Argonauts who discovered the Golden Fleece, so as not ruin the priceless moment. My legs felt like they were falling apart. But I smiled at you with all my soul. Then and there we sealed our bodies and souls in an infinite embrace. “At last!” we said in unison. We walked for almost two hours through Central park. Tired out, we arrived at a Greek restaurant. There, he said: “Marry me, Mariel. I’ll ask you to marry me…don’t you want to? It’s all I can give you, besides the love of a poor man,” he said, very serious. “Thanks. It’s been a while since anyone asked me to marry him,” I said, half –smiling and half ironically. “I’d have to get divorce first. And bringing it up with my husband won’t be easy, but thank you. If I do, you’ll be the first on my list.” You’ll have to ask for my hand, I thought to my self sadly. His wife… That was the most proper thing; it was what I wanted- to be your woman and you to be my man. Was that the title of some movie? Hmmm, it sounded familiar. Seated beside each other, sharing bites of food, we told each other a thousand things, gazed at each other without growing tired of it. Greek food never tasted so good to me. I’ve always known that all things must come to an end, happiness included. A flood, a monsoon, or the most raging typhoon- when they’re intense they seemed like they’ll never end, but yes, they do end. And that day, too, was coming to a close. Seated in the bank seat of a taxi, our bodies very close to one another, my legs and my dress, which now seemed shorter, were rubbing his warm arm and hand, which was temptingly close to many centimeters of bare skin, and his slender fingers wasted no time in giving in to the obvious. His hand rested there on my thigh, at first timidly and then nervously, but something in me childishly resisted, and gently removed it. -“Why Mariel, why?” he asked. – “We can’t keep feeding this. I would have to stay here overnight, and I don’t know what would happen afterward.” “You are right,” he mused. The train for Long Island will arrive at 6p.m. and it was the last one that day. If I missed it, it would be a domestic catastrophe. We arrived at the station and ran like crazy. We only had eight minutes left. Suddenly our time was up, and there we were. Looking at each other ecstatically. We came closer to each other and there was no longer time for words. He put his body close to mine, and in a red vertigo I surrendered to his mouth, to the kiss that I longed for thousands of times. We kissed so hard and so intense that I almost fainted, he kissed my eyes over and over again, and I rested my cheek on his shoulder, my mouth on his skin, biting it gently and at times uncontrollably. “Elie, I managed to say, everyone’s looking at us.” “It was true. People were smiling and looking in with approval. “Don’t worry, my love, this is Manhattan.” He repeated a line from a song by Jacques Brel: “Ne me quitte pas, Mariel, Don’t leave me.” And I didn’t want to, I didn’t ever want to leave, but we had to go our separate ways. I ran to the train, the train to Montauk, without looking back and sat as far away as possible from anyone else. I breathed a deep sigh, and the tears that had been pent up in my eyes began to flow freely, warmly, rolling down my face, reminding me of every kiss. I felt powerless against my self, like the cry of a child. Perhaps because I knew, we both knew, that we couldn’t have any future in common. What a parody is happiness! Now, back to my town, I needed to smell the sea, the immensity of it, filled by memoirs of Elie, Montauk “The End”, or the beginning of that mad, gloomy love. .