The rhythmic clicking and clacking of wheels on rails had me dazed. The sound was soothing, like white noise to a baby. The green of the fields and the blue of the sky merged into a blur so my eyes couldn’t focus. I closed them for a moment.
As I opened my eyes, the train barreled into a tunnel and I caught sight of my reflection in the window. An unkempt man with deep furrows and a vacant stare looked back at me. I suddenly became very aware of my surroundings. The carriage was cold, drafty and scarred with the marks of those who had passed through it before me. I wasn’t like them. No trace of me would be left here. If it wasn’t for my reflection, nobody would know I’d been here at all. I sat like a spectre; unobtrusive, unnoticed.
As the brakes grumbled, the train crept up to a platform. I caught the eye of a little girl. She was beautiful. Sandy blonde ringlets caressed her shoulders, her deep brown, almond shaped eyes peered out from under a fur Cossack hat. Her smile was enough to warm the freezing air. I sat up in my seat, placed my hand on the glass, my eyes desperately called out. She tentatively waved before her hand was snatched from the air by an angry looking woman, who scolded her and yanked her from the platform like a ragdoll. She didn’t even look back as she was marched away. The door to her little world was closed, and I was left on the outside.
The train trudged on towards the coast, the once blue sky enveloped by dirty grey, the once clear window speckled with raindrops and spray. The windows of houses on the cliff top glowed orange in the fading daylight. I was there, once. Tucked under the flimsy net curtain of an upstairs window, staring at the expanse of sea and sky before me, anticipating the storm rolling in, excited by flashes of lightning cracking across the sky like shattering glass, pulling her close to me as she tensed with every rumble of thunder. This storm only brought me the pain of recollection.
I slid a worn photograph from my pocket. As I traced her round, honest face with my finger my eyes swelled with tears that dripped down my dirty cheeks like the rain poured down the window. I bellowed. The sound reverberated, trapped by steel and glass and there, in that cold, drafty carriage, it hit me as though it was the train itself.
My reddened eyes looked out once more across the dark sea. My body longed for it. For the cold to envelop me. For the water to drown out the knowledge that there was nobody waiting for me at my destination. Nobody to weep for me when I did not arrive. Nobody to know I was gone.
I held my breath, listening to the clicking and clacking until it faded into the distance.