Late in June of 1914 I threw myself down in the heavy grass of an English field. My bare arms were a-fire with the sun’s candent light. The warm ground pressed my whole body as I inhaled its living, green scent. In Sarajevo, Gavrilo Princip aimed a rifle at archduke Franz Ferdinand.
One night in Paris, in a cheap hotel in Montmartre, my lover ran his finger across my naked stomach. In the darkness, he drew a point of scintillating touch slowly, slowly down my waiting flesh. It was February 1933, and in Berlin, the Reichstag burnt.
In August 1945, I celebrated my birthday in a Berlin bar with three American airmen. There was a happy warmth in my stomach from the ersatz whisky, and the bitter taste of cheap cigarette smoke in my mouth. One of the airmen stroked my hair; his evanescent touch keeping slow time with the music. Half a world away, Enola Gay opened its bomb bay doors.
On the southern shore of Lake Akan, in Japan’s northern island, the womb-waters of the onsen blanket-wrapped my limbs while I watched the sun rise over the white ice of the lake. My face, exposed to the freezing air, was shocked with a pleasant pain. It was November 1963, the dawning of John F. Kennedy’s last day.
I was born in the last century, and I hope to die with its passing. It is March 2000. I sit hunched in a shabby armchair in a shabby old people’s home in Eastbourne. My body aches; my joints are stiff and creak. I drink my tea, and relish the clear sharp refreshment as I swallow. “There,” says the nurse, a child in woman’s uniform. “Was that a nice cuppa? There’s “Richard and Judy” on telly soon, that’s something to look forward to, isn’t it?”