We wanted to be together, and we needed advice. I knew that if we married everything would be solved. And by everything I mean papers, bureaucracy, and the right to stay together by law. She was Latin-American, and I was European. I was a legal immigrant, with all the rights on my side. She wasn’t. But I didn’t want to marry, and much less because someone obliged me. It’s not that I didn’t want to marry her but that I didn’t want to marry. Years have passed since then and I still don’t believe in such a thing as ‘marriage’. Love should be always free. Not attachment but loyalty one to the other. But let’s not talk here about this political, social and philosophical issue and let’s go straight to the point. And the point was very big, to me bigger than our legal status problem itself. A ‘problem’ that could seem mundane, even silly, beside the point of this brief story. And the point was SHE.
That day I had an appointment at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in Edinburgh. We were at the place at 10 a.m sharp.
And there SHE was in HER office. Sitting on what you may call a common office chair. Listening to me. My girlfriend didn’t know much English so I was the one to talk. I didn’t notice anything strange about HER at the very beginning, my sight problem makes me very slow in this sense. HER blue eyes looked at me calmly. Later, I wanted to imagine some deep cold resignation inside. But one can only guess and think what one wants to think, mostly because of their own experiences, thoughts and beliefs. No one really knows the real feelings of a stranger, they are not obvious, like a rash.
SHE was listening to me attentively, taking some notes. No right hand. A sort of hair elastic band holding a pen firmly from HER wrist. Perfect and fairly fast wristwriting.
I was talking. SHE was listening and answering. Short and precise answers. It seemed there was no solution for us SHE could see except marrying or getting a full time student visa for my girlfriend.
HER scottish accent and tone of voice was altered by that thing… on HER larynx. Tracheotomy, I thought.
I looked at HER other… No left hand. Just a clean and complexless stump. I can’t say I wasn’t shocked at the time but I continued talking about my own concerns, like nothing was unusual to me.
Probably, the last words I said before SHE stood up and accompanied us to the door were ‘thank you very much’. And when SHE did, I saw HER walking with two pieces of metal as legs.
And yet there SHE was, trying to help me, to help others, to help anyone…
‘Thank you very much.’