train

Destination

I sit alone in a vacant train station, but its vacancy is only my perception. It is semi-crowded, yet I have this feeling that everyone seems to be far away from me. I try to occupy my mind, but the lingering smell of oiled tracks and trash that has yet to be emptied only adds to the lump in my throat. My iPod shuffles music, and I have the urge to turn it off because every song pulls his face into my mind.

I hope for my train to come on time, anything to get me off of the cold bench that I sit on alone. I’m surrounded by hand-holders, married couples, and young lovers. I avoid looking at them, and instead glance at the clock that seems to keep saying 12:47 p.m. There are billboards across the track that I begin to take notice of, and I realize I’m doing more than just surveying what is around me.

live fearlessThe advertisement I focus on is for affordable health coverage, emphasizing that if I have this insurance, I can “live fearless.” The point is obvious. I’m supposed to think that if I get this health insurance, I can surf the seas, jump off of cliffs, explore the world, or be as reckless as I possibly can. I can live fearless with nothing to worry about.

I realize how often I worry as I stare at this advertisement. I worry about this idea of being fearless. I worry about my life in two years, I worry about where my family will go, I worry about my friends and what road they take, I worry about money and grades and opening my heart to someone new.

I hate worrying, and I hate using expressions about the heart because it seems cliché. The heart is just an organ that beats and pumps blood and keeps us living. So frequently we talk about the heart in pain, the heart swelling, the heart flipping and turning, the heart growing warm, the heart feeling love, his sympathetic heart, her aching heart.

Their hearts beating.

Still waiting for the clock to turn to 1:16 p.m., I picture his face, again, in the window as his train started to pull away from where I stood. My heart feels like it’s breaking, I thought. If my heart feels like it’s breaking, then does that mean being with him is when it is whole? Does it mean my heart is complete when I am with him?

My train pulls up, interrupting the thoughts I had. I still do not know if I can be fearless, but perhaps with him in my life I can begin to have courage and forget about being afraid.

I sometimes wonder if I will find the answers I am looking for. But, in this moment, I am sure of one thing, and that is that I am ready for a new destination.

On the Train

Before she left for work in the morning, she would think of what he would say to her on the train.

They were strangers. She had been sitting in a seat meant for two and pressed her body close up against the sticky walls of the train. She didn’t normally like to be close with people on the train, and she tried to avoid conversation with most commuters. She didn’t like strangers prying into her life, with only 15 minutes till her destination arrived she found it pointless to try and become friends with anyone. Who knew if she would ever see them again?

He was different. He commuted the same way as her, but got off at the stop after her, the last stop. As she was pressed against the train’s side, he walked onto the train. His clothes looked like they were taken off a mannequin, with a blue button-up tucked into his slacks neatly, like her mom used to do for her in elementary school, right before picture day. Hair mussed slightly, he looked like a baby chick with its new fluffed up feathers peeking up on its head. His dirty blonde hair fell close to his eyes, and he pushed it out of the way as he boarded the train and searched for a seat.

She knew there were other seats on the train, but he chose to sit next to her.

He politely asked, “Can I sit here?”

She moved her bag aside and inched closer to the wall.

“Sure.”

He plopped down beside her, too close, and handed his ticket to the conductor. Turning to her he said, “Do you ride all the way to the end of the line?”

The rest of the conversation was idle chit-chat. Where are you working? How do you like the town? This weather is crazy, right? Even though she knew it was silly, she couldn’t stop talking to him. She didn’t even know him.

That’s why she woke up in a hurry every morning, heart racing, and made sure she never missed the train again. She never knew when it would be the last time they would talk on the train.

Simplicity

She cast her eyes away from the train window she was looking out, and instead placed her eyes on her hands.  They were clenched together in her lap, right across her printed dress.

She twisted the ring on her pointer finger.  It was rusty now.  Its once silver band now looked like a light red.  The fake jewel in the middle looked back at her.  It was dull, and lifeless.  It was a simple piece of jewelry, nowhere near lavish.

He gave it to her last May.  She remembered walking through the city with him, hand in hand, when they spotted a booth that sold costume jewelry.  The lady at the booth waved them over, and she pointed out several rings.

“It’s like real diamond,” she said with a heavy accent.

He smiled at her, “Pick one out, sweetie.”

She glanced down at her ring again, and wished she could go back to that day.  They had been fighting the whole week, and things were uncomfortably tense.  Perhaps the lack of communication was a problem.  Maybe she was too moody towards him.  It wasn’t her fault, she was just upset about her pay not being raised.

Whatever the cause of the fights were, she didn’t like the effect.  Why couldn’t they work out these small problems?  She hated feeling unhappy with her relationship.  She hated feeling unhappy with herself.

The train conductor startled her thoughts by asking, “Where ya goin’ ma’am?”

She looked down at her hand again, rubbing the jewel to make it shine a little more.  She remembered how happy she was that day he bought the ring for her.  She jumped up into his arms, kissing his face.

“I love it!  It’s so simple, but I love it,” she had said.

She handed her train pass to the conductor.  As he punched her pass and handed it back to her, she realized to herself, it’s the little things in life that remind me he will love me no matter what.

Despite their rough week, he loved her still.  She was sure of it.

The conductor walked away, and she realized that the ring was simple, but it was a gift from him, so she should cherish it in every way possible.  She also realized she never answered the conductor’s question.

But it didn’t matter where she was going.  It only mattered who she was going to.