The next day, Harold and Elisabeth sat in their red Mercedes Benz in heavy traffic just outside of London. Harold gazed over at his wife. Her delicate hands supported her head, her arms propped up by her elbows on the side of the car door. Her dyed blonde hair was perfectly styled; the finest line of grey at her roots was the only reminder that the girl he met at school was indeed ageing. Though not conventionally attractive, with a large, crooked nose and a receding chin, there was an undeniably irresistible charm about her. Her energy and confidence always captivated onlookers, and it was clear from her glowing skin and bright eyes that she took good care of herself. Harold had always felt a strange sense of jealous pride whenever he caught another man ogling her. At times he worried it was what he loved most about her, the way he always felt like a winner with her by his side. Perhaps she was cold and self-absorbed sometimes, but he was sure he could feel genuine warmth and compassion from her now and then — though Harold’s friends had made him acutely aware that he was the only one who could see that side of her. They’d never really approved of his relationship with her, but their concerns were nothing more than simple jealousy.
Elisabeth shifted uncomfortably in her seat and let out an audible sigh that she intended Harold to hear. He turned to her, reluctant to indulge the tirade he knew was about to ensue. A second long sigh, however, indicated that the monologue was inevitable, whether he liked it or not.
“What’s with all this traffic? How much longer are we meant to sit and wait here? Someone could at least give us some information. What’s the holdup? God knows how long we’re going to be stuck on this stretch of road. Why can’t everyone just be turned around and diverted?”
“Lis, honey, all we can do is be patient. It’ll clear soon enough.”
Elisabeth scoffed. It grated on her when her husband kept so cool and collected.
“I suppose you’d be used to waiting around,” jibed Elisabeth. “Growing up surrounded by muck and tractors that can only do 10 miles an hour. The rest of us have learnt to appreciate how precious time is.”
Harold’s hands rested limply on the steering wheel. Staring straight ahead, he replied, “don’t act like you’re not a country bumpkin at heart. We both grew up in the same town.”
“My upbringing was nothing like yours. I never set foot on a farm,” she answered, inspecting her French-tipped nails.
“There’s nothing wrong with the way I was brought up,” came the reply. The unusually frosty tone didn’t go unnoticed.
“Not if you like being knee-deep in shit and treated like a slave.”
To Elisabeth’s surprise, Harold momentarily snapped.
“I wasn’t treated like a slave. I grew up understanding the importance of hard work and graft. That’s why I am where I am today. That’s why you can sit there with your perfectly styled hair and posh bag. That’s why you have the lifestyle you have.” He closed his eyes and muttered something under his breath. In a calmer tone, he continued, “Lis, please, I’m driving to my mother’s funeral. Cut me some slack. You don’t have to act like the school bully right now.”
Elisabeth shot him a steely stare. For a moment, she was taken aback by the stark reminder of how she was probably still perceived back in her hometown. The traffic slowly started to creep forward. The rest of the journey continued in silence.
Five hours later, they were driving through Cornwall, an expanse of patchwork fields extended in every direction. Harold turned off the dual-carriageway and indicated left at the end of the slip road. He pulled onto a country road lined with a thick, green hedge that had grown so fervently through the summer months that it now absconded their vision and forced the car to drive closer to the middle of the road. Beyond the hedge was nothing but green hills, some smattered with a few sheep. Bodmin moor loomed in the distance. Even in the sunshine, the view still seemed bleak to Elisabeth. She hadn’t missed the countryside and was already pining for the bright lights of London and its soothing background hum. They soon reached the outskirts of a small town that most would describe as quaint, with picture-perfect cobbled streets and neatly thatched roofs. However, all Elisabeth saw was the damp, grey stones the houses were built from and the few piles of horse manure dotted along the back roads.
Harold manoeuvred into a small car park surrounded by a low stone wall. Elisabeth kept her eyes down, trying her best not to look at the austere hotel right in front of her. She hated the countryside. The pair climbed out of the car, and Harold took the luggage from the boot. Elisabeth made her way to the hotel reception, leaving her husband to jostle with the two suitcases. She reached the front door, twisted the iron doorknob to let herself in and sauntered up to the front desk to wait for him to catch up. She ignored the receptionist’s welcome.
(…to be continued…)
Transadaptation Volume 4 – Material Dissent
January: A Blinding Light and Then, All Darkness – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)
February: The Opportunist – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)
March: A Stranger in my City – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)
April: A South African Soundtrack – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)
May: Full Circle – Ina Maria Vogel (Germany)
June: La Lluvia en Bogotá – Adriana Uribe (Columbia)
July: Freedom – Krisztina Janosi (Hungary)
August: A Bus Ride – Svetlana Molchanova (Russia)
September: Transcendence – Armine Asryan (Nane Sevunts) (Armenia)
October: Motherhood – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)
November: To be announced – (hopefully) Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)
December: Open – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)
Background – Context
Transadaptation Volume 3: Evanescent – Young Adulthood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2022)
Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)
Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)
Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)
L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)
Emblems and stories on the international community
Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world
Cover photo: Cornwall, UK – Bodmin Moor – Jim Peters (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed