I’m sitting on a train. It is quiet. I sit alone holding a grey book, at one end of an empty car. The world around this miniscule, individual world in which I sit is moving quickly, chugging by, spinning round, wearing us down. Is the train moving, or is the earth? Is time moving, or am I?
I’m sitting on a train. It is quiet. I sit alone holding a grey book, at one end of an empty car. An old lady boards. I cannot see her face. She wears black, her face covered by a shawl. She shuffles in, hunched over herself, moving like an umbrella against the wind in the middle of a hurricane. She is full of care. She pushes against this invisible force for minutes, hours, months, years. Time does not exist on this train. She crumples into the seat at the opposite end of the car, across the ocean she has battled, across the continents between us, across the grimy outdated carpet. She opens a black book, devouring the worn pages.
Time takes a breath.
I’m sitting on a train. It is quiet. I sit alone holding a grey book, at one end of a car occupied by only one other soul – an old lady in black. A young woman boards. I cannot see her face. She wears scarlet; the clothing clings to her skin, outlining all of what she is. Her head is hidden by a large sun hat, eyes obscured by sunglasses, her lips two crimson organs. They never part. She glides across the ground leisurely, head held high, body poised. She settles on a seat in the center of the car, equidistant from the old woman and myself. An island in the middle of a still sea. She opens a red book, stares at the crisp pages without really seeing.
Time clears her throat.
I’m sitting on a train. It is quiet. I sit alone holding a grey book, at one end of an empty car transporting two other beings – an old lady cloaked in darkness and a young woman stained with blood. A little girl boards. I can see her face. Her eyes are wide. They drink the world. She wears white – a light and flowy dress that falls around her scabbed knees. Her face is clear; I can see every freckle, scar, and imperfection. She holds a white book. She runs through the car, stumbles halfway through but gets back up, prances all the way to the back of the train and hops up on the very last seat. She smiles a bright, childish smile. She opens the window, struggling a bit with the latch and clumsily pushing again the weight of the pane. The wind blows through her hair. The sun illuminates her. She opens her book and, one by one, rips out each page and pushes it gently out onto the breeze. She watches her birds fly away and she is every color on the spectrum and no color at all. There are shadows in her face and ink darkens her hands. Blood trickles from a scrape on her knee. But she is bright. She laughs like only a child can and it is the only sound in the world.
I’m sitting on a train. It is quiet. Except it is not quiet at all. I sit alone holding nothing. Except I do not sit alone. There is a voice, a voice that somehow belongs to an old lady, a young woman, and a little girl all at once. “All aboard?”