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A shitty prose about trains
Laura Wiseman
The time spent on a train is almost a like a moment of pseudo existence. The longer the train ride, the more suspended the moment is. When you get on a train, you abandon all responsibility and there is that magic gap between point A and point B where you can ignore all others and reflect upon yourself. Last time I was on a train I decided to speak to people I hadnít spoken to in what seemed like eons. Surrounded by strangers and heavy metal walls, I allowed myself to see what would happen. As the country sped past me, and I flew through baron fields and busy cities, nothing seemed to be real. I felt that anything I said on the twelve-hour journey would not have any impact. I felt like I was in a pseudo state of being. Numb. Every emotion, however, seems amplified on trains, especially if you are alone. I see people travelling together; couples and families pile onto the train and arrange themselves in the seats together. They make small talk and cuddle and rest their heads on shoulders, hold hands, and smile. This is not how train rides are meant to be, in my opinion. I enjoy sitting by a window alone and looking out at all the hidden bits of cities: the buildings, roads, and people behind the scenes. On a train, alone, I am able to feel what I am feeling to its fullest extent. Last night I was alone on a train and the night sky stirred up emotions I had been trying to bottle up for the past few weeks. I listened to words of other lonely people through my headphones and wrote everything I felt. Surrounded by strangers and heavy metal walls, I allowed myself to feel it all. Alone I could breathe. Alone I could think. The movement of the train is the most fascinating aspect of the ride. You might pass a beautiful house, or a curious tree, or a peculiar man, but in an instant itís gone. Temporary. On a train, you can look out at a marshland behind the business district and count the trees separating the marsh from the road. You can count the steps of the birds as they catch dinner. You can superimpose images from your mind onto the scene. Holding hands with someone who will never love you back, walking across the grassy scene, and then stopping at the lamppost full of rusty nails and staples just to kiss. But then the image is gone as the train moves on to a different scene. Wiping the slate of your imagination again. Now you can look out the window and see townhouses with lights on in the windows. Here, you can bring up images of a quiet and happy life with someone. You can see yourself through the windows and quickly build a life for yourself. Maybe you work at the clinic and youíre waiting for your fiancť to come home. But before you can think on to the possibility of children and pets and family activities, the train has moved on. Now youíre passing a heavily wooded area and you can try to hold your breath as you pass the trees. You can imagine climbing to the peak of a massive oak. You can picture yourself falling. Running through the maze of wood trunks and hearing the crunch of leaves and crack of twigs under your feet. These areas usually last longer than the others and so your imagination has more than a minute to conjure up a fantastic scene. A small house with a copper chimney. An uprooted birch tree. A still body of water. Itís the beautiful mixture of being able to feel everything fully, and being almost forced to move on to a new thought. And only when youíre alone is this truly possible. Maybe itís my self assurance that being alone has itís perks, orÖ maybe not. Picturesque clouds fit for cherubs in the evening light. Now images of heaven and the afterlife are rampant in your mind. An old and rusted Volks Wagon bus and now the images of the afterlife turn to images of a hippie couple smoking a joint in the back of the van when it was young and new. The smell of oatmeal from the back of the train car and a view of a warm looking apartment building sent my thoughts into lonely Sunday nights in bed. A heard of cows in the middle of a field and youíre instantly thrown into a scene of a hazy day in the countryside in southern Ireland. A train ride is a ride through your head with catalysts set along the tracks. A car similar to his clunker. A restaurant reminiscent to where you had a final conversation. Trees strung with lights with a warm glow like back home. A couple kissing in a gazebo like four summers ago. These catalysts are everywhere, and itís beautiful. I wish I could get on a train and go across the country. Hour after hour and thought after thought. Just let the train take me aimlessly through a path of catalysts to thoughts of the past and the future. Maybe I would be able to think through everything and come out on the other end okay. Maybe trains are meant to be taken alone, and even though being alone on a train is wonderful, I would give anything for you to be with me.


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