i. Especially on warm nights with the window cracked, I hear the trains. That long moan pulls me out into the sultry, rippling air, over the city to jump onboard an empty boxcar, lean back, and let myself be taken.
ii. My train pulls in to a busy station in Calcutta, India where, on a platform across the tracks, a solid wall of travelers tilts forward, faces turned in anticipation, faces showing no sign of recognition of that boy down there who has been transformed into something flat and geometric between metal rails and wooden ribs, more like a rug than a human child. The saffron-colored fabric of his shirt waves in the breeze.
iii. Someone slaps the lights off and I’m falling, nowhere, falling. This must be a tunnel.
iv. In Geneva I arrive at the station without francs, after curfew, and must perch on my backpack in front of an enormous vending machine where biscuits and cheeses and chocolate and yoghurt and sausages and nut cakes and apples and sardines and pasties tempt from behind a wall of thick and spotless glass. Welcome to Switzerland.
v. Written with sharpie on back of the seat ahead: “u r almost there.”
vi. On the red line at Downtown Crossing, it’s at least 110° down here and I’m understanding Whitman, down with Dante, dizzy with sweat in my eyes and lungs filled with metal filings, hot oil, and ancient dirt and thinking this is not a nice way to die, this is not how I want to go.
vii. First in line at the red light, boxcars thundering, I grip the steering wheel and wonder: What if I didn’t obey that little red light? One sickening slip of the foot and then….
viii. Every every time I stand at the sink to do the dishes, I have the same thought. The same irrelevant notion creeps into my brain like it’s been waiting there beside the sponge for my return. (I wonder: Do thoughts hover like clouds over certain locations? Do places trigger ideas? Ghost thoughts, ancestral impulses, places wrapped up in time, chestnut won ton; the train of thought tracks through gray matter, wearing ruts.)
ix. So this is a story you tell yourself: the world has ended (who knows why. Nuclear disaster, some rogue virus, something like that,) and we’re the last ones left, the ones in this compartment, so take a good look around. Which ones will be on your team and which will cause all the trouble? Who will be your mate? You have to choose: The fate of the world depends on you. Study those faces hard and make your decision before the next stop.
x. The clack of wheels rocked you to sleep and you wake with a start, stranger in a strange land, with a blossom of drool on your breast pocket. Whereamiwhoami? For one moment, anything’s possible. You could get off here, in this town. You could call yourself “Jessica” or “Fisher” or “Lemonhead” or “Hieronymous.” You could take the first job you stumbled over. You could start over.
(Clack, clack,clack, rocking back and forth, moving along. Are you getting sleepy?)
For this post, I was inspired by the Satsumabug Blog. Lisa is full of great ideas!