Naked under the bedsheets, Lily and Raúl came back to wakefulness very gradually. The room was becoming lighter, and the hum of the city outside started to grow. They didn’t say anything for a long time, and when Lily got up and went to the bathroom and closed the door behind her, Raúl picked up the phone and asked for tea and toast.
– Acerca de anoche…, Lily said after her first cup, about last night…
– Speak English if you want, L., and there’s no need to explain anything, really…
– No, but I want to.
– Go on then.
– I’m just very confused, Rulo. I thought it was the dope, but it’s not. Or not only that alone. I know this is real, I touch you and you’re real, this tea is hot and not bad, I know these clothes I’ll wear, they are familiar to me. But there’s whole areas of my memory and of reality that have been really blurry these last few days since we met at the airport here.
– Go on.
– It’s very odd, and I’m not sure I’m the best one to explain. I always thought you were better at dealing with the subconscious, altered states and all that. But let me try to look at it. For instance, there’s something wrong about how I speak. I mean I can express what I’m thinking allright, as much as anyone can, but I hear my own words and they don’t sound like me. They don’t sound like the way I would say things. Which is very odd.
– Like looking at an actress impersonating you. There was a Seinfeld episode like that, every character replaced by a lookalike stand-in… but go on, go on…
– Maybe, I don’t know. I think about last night… we went into that coffeeshop and started talking and smoking, and I had one feeling then, at least at the beginning of the night. I felt that I could allow myself that: these days here, you, the coffeeshop, all that, because my work was done. I really had that strong sense of duty done, duty accomplished, which is a nice feeling and all. To be honest with you, R., there’s also something else that doesn’t feel right, and I can’t quite point at it. I look at myself in the mirror, and of course it’s me, of course I know that person, but I have trouble accepting the fact that the woman looking at me from the mirror is the current me. It’s more like a version of me, like something I was once, or something I will be. But not me, Lily O’Higgins, right now. Some other Lily? It’s freaking me out. It freaked me out last night, and that’s why I did what I did. Lucky we got out of there.
– Messy, yeah…
– Also you, R. I know you enough to know this guy sitting here in this hotel room with me and drinking tea and listening to my ravings is you. You know, you. But at the same time, there’s something not quite right with this Raúl Deschamps, it’s a bit like a distorted picture of something, a reflection – and I don’t have the original.
– That’s a good one, Lil. I think I know where you’re getting at.
– You do?
– I have ideas.
– Yeah? I’d like to listen to your take on all this. But let me say something first. Can I trust you? Can I trust you won’t manipulate and steer the whole explanation towards your own ends?
– Which ends would those be?
– Oh… R., do we really have to go there?
– You mean to the island where I look at your naked beauty forever, with machine gun nests to shoot down any motherfucker that wants to interrupt our bliss, while the world burns and Rome collapses and I lick your red pussy?
– Fuckin’ ‘ell… see what I’m talking about… that shit sounds familiar. Not sure from where, or how long ago or anything. But… yeah. Kind of. Can we look at this and leave the fireworks aside, and the soap operas, and just try and make some fucking sense of it all from a rational point of view? Can you do that?
– I can. I know the value of reason. I also know it’s a part of something bigger. There’s an “unreason” out there too, and they work great together. Each side alone is not worth that much. Ying and yang, you know, you always say it. As to declarations of love, yeah, I can leave that out. I know it’s not your favorite subject. But while in Amsterdam, do as the Dutch do. Let’s move shop to a coffeehouse and light up. What do you say, girl?
– Oh, I’ll go with you. I’m not sure I want to smoke though – this is all weird enough without that. But yeah, let’s go. Let me get my jeans.