Going a bit meta with today’s piece. I saw a prompt to write something set and a train and this was just what came to mind when I started typing.
Her favorite part was when the train pulled out of the station. It always was – that feeling of the acceleration in her gut, the slight vibration, the knowledge that from now and for the next few hours, all she had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride in whatever way she saw fit. Sometimes she spent the whole trip with her nose in a book, or her eyes glued on the laptop screen watching Netflix. Sometimes she looked out the window the whole way, drinking in the landscape. Sometimes she worked, keys clacking, or did research, or surfed around aimlessly because she’d sprung for wireless when she got her tickets. Other days she just watched the others, how they came and went, how they napped, how they talked on their phones or pulled out decks of cards to play or bickered over what overpriced snacks to pick up in the restaurant cart. She imagined whole lives for them, then forgot them the next moment. Often, especially on long trips like this one, she shifted in and out of activities with a smoothness she never had at home, like this was her whole life, right here on the train.
As the train left the station, she flipped her laptop open and opened a new document. Breathing in deeply, she took in the whiteness of the page and then reached for her to-go mug. She picked a project as the tea washed down her gullet – sencha lime had been the perfect choice for this trip – and typed the first few words with a feeling of glee. Some days were for making progress, for tying up loose ends and finishing projects, but today was for the new and exciting, for filling the page up with words and not really knowing where they were going. Her earbuds were playing jaunty indie pop that sounded like the soundtrack of something, and she hummed along quietly as she set the scene, plopped someone onto the page to mess about and then sat back to wonder what they’d be doing.
From the corner of her eye, a swirl of color caught her attention. A purple mohawk shrugging off a teal blazer, great big headphones already on as they slid into the seat and set down a tablet that was already playing a show. She couldn’t see their body or most of their face, rows of seats in the way, but she could see a meet-cute involving neighboring train seats and reaching for the electric outlet at the same time, and she could see conversations about TV shows and splitting an overpriced cupcake and then numbers exchanged. She could see video calls and late night Azul-tournaments and picking out hair dye for one another as dares but never actually picking a color the other person wouldn’t be happy in. She could see fights about something trivial like whether long-distance was worth it, about something important like what to name their hypothetical future cat, could see tears and days spent typing messages that were then deleted. Finally, the sweet relief of making up, of forging new bonds in different ways, of tattoos only they would know were a matching set. She could see a mole on a clavicle become a motif.
A few seconds later, a lifetime later, the writer turned her attention back to her screen. Grinning to herself, she hit shuffle for something more up-tempo and started to type.