All of the above, maybe.
Anyway, it's for a site called Dude Write...like I could pass up something like that. And it was Tweeted to me by the awesome Daniel Nest, a very funny, very talented writer whose blog I find highly entertaining.
And so, I did it.
This is what I came up with, based on the photo as a prompt. It's different from JOE...in fact, it's not even funny. But I like it.
See what you think.
I just stood on the platform and watched as it went, that behemoth of black iron with its lungs exhaling a tubercular breath of soot and sorrow. An ignorant beast with wheels where its feet should have been, and hidden somewhere deep inside its belly: her.
Lovely and utterly whole.
And I stood by, mute and lame and inconsequential. By now, as much a relief of scars within as without.
It rolled out of its slumber, following its own trail off into a wilderness of mist and light and promise for anyone who dared travel that far and that deep. She dared.
She was adventure.
So I stayed. And she left.
But I watched, from the first moment until the last.
Behind the glass that collected gems of morning dew like tears on a lens, I saw her. She was reading, sipping tea in a china cup, fiddling with the stray golden threads of the strawberry hair that had frayed at the nape of her neck. Even then, there was hope in that framed vision of her. She was not gathering words from the page, I knew. She was gathering thoughts of me.
Of where I was not.
Of where I would not be.
For a moment, I longed to tear open a wound in that steel skin, reach between the ribs with all the strength I had left, rend her from the space she occupied and remind her that there were adventures yet to be had here. That this platform we stood upon was an ending, too – the termination point of someone else’s journey to here. Some freedom-bound explorer had climbed inside the beast and traveled a great distance to end up here as well. I wanted to explain to her that not all who are intrepid will truly discover that which they search for out there.
But my hands remained at my sides.
And the train remained whole.
And she remained there…while I stayed here.
When I recall the memory, I prefer to envision an ending that makes sense in this context: that she turned from her book at the very last moment, saw me standing with my cane and my broken flesh, with not even so much as a trace of that same wanderlust within me. I imagine how deeply she regretted her choice, that she questioned her passage and wondered how long it would take to finally make her way back to me once this flight of fancy had ended.
But I know there is no truth in this.
Not a single word.
The train left as scheduled, and she never looked up, never thought of me again. She read, she drank tea. She fiddled with her hair. The beast I preferred to believe had swallowed her whole had done nothing of the sort. It had simply opened its mouth and invited her in. And she never thought to say “no”.