People On Trains
A Lyric Prose Collection
He sat. He waited. He turned his head slowly and felt the weight of twenty
four wasted years pushing against his brain from all directions, like
a second atmosphere. He waited. He could see that the sky was changing,
but he could not tell which way it moved. He saw her like a ghost in the
window. Within a few moments she was all he saw, and he saw then that
she was all. It struck him as a match strikes a rough surface. The instant
of momentous emotional friction followed by the brief flame of cutting
resignation. He knew that he was sweating from this internal heat, and
he knew that what men said about destiny was a blatant lie.
How quaint. I'll bet you come from Manchester. You have that 'Northern
Chic' that eclipses London on any sunny day. I know nothing of fashion,
and even less of Manchester, but I know you. I know you, not because you
are transparent - you are far from transparent. You are opaque, but absorbent
and you absorb me because I am a liquid. I cling to you from within and
I study you. I see a structure so ordered and yet so malleable. I see
the substance and the space. I cannot stay long. You're squeezing me out.
This is my whole life. Riding the same route seven days a week, doing
the same work eight or ten hours a day, thinking about you every minute
of every hour. Sometimes you move temporarily into my subconscious but
you are always here. You make all my decisions. You don't seem to understand.
This is my whole life. This pathetic shell. No wonder I have gone nowhere
since I fell in love with you. Fell in love! Well, at least my days are
full, even if my life is empty. I love you though. I love you. I love
you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. Don't you care?
Look at the world. How can you possible deny God. If you deny God's existence,
you deny your own existence. How else do you explain the grass, the trees,
the cattle, the clouds, the metal, the glass, the heat, the clay, the
water, the atom, the conscience, the soul? I am looking at vegetation,
at shades of green, and at man's own creations, which are God's. The greatest
cosmologists say something can appear from nothing. And still you deny
God! Light and dark. Work and rest. Sadness and joy. Look at the world
and think: who could create such infinite variety but The Infinite God.
Her nervous fingers tapped the underside of the table. She wondered what
was wrong - apart from that. The train had arrived on time. The engine
had sounded fit. What was it waiting for? She glanced at her bags. Only
the bags made her feel guilty. She could look anyone straight in the eye.
She could analyse the events and justify every one of her actions. But
those bags! Her fingers drummed harder, and she tried to turn away from
the bags but no - why had she put them on that seat? Stupid girl! Then
she panicked. Surely not?
No we're not moving yet. Put your head on my knee. Is that the best way?
How much was that then? Most of them are one twenty now aren't they? You've
had an exciting day, haven't you! I don't know where it went! Dear!
Focus straight ahead. An inch. Then six inches. Then a yard. Then infinity.
Move the focus randomly between those four points. Focus straight ahead.
Know your position. Know your direction. Know your destination. Know your
limitation. Move the focus randomly between those four points.
Choose your own metaphor for life. Anything will do. The galloping metal
horse that gallops nowhere. The gentle clouds that drift on a whim of
the air. The dull box building that houses all the youthful energy of
the night. The pillar supporting a bridge. The cable delivering power
and death. The window with no view. The view with no window. If you're
tired, close your eyes. There's nothing to miss but the world, and you
can see that tomorrow, if God wills. It is the strong who confess their
weaknesses, while the weak boast loud of their strengths.
She waits for him because she knows she must. She waits without emotion.
When he comes she will smile and touch his hand and say how good it is
to see him. They will talk about their work. About people she knew. People
he still knows, and people who hold his affection. She waits and wonders
if he will come. He may not. He has no obligation and perhaps little inclination,
but perhaps... She knows she must wait. He often comes and they often
talk, and twice she kissed him. Perhaps she will kiss him today, if he
Tired eyes. Oh she could sleep a hundred miles. She closes her eyes and
smiles. Peace. Another world, another time. She glances aimlessly at unnecessary
landmarks. She closes her eyes and smiles. Peace. She sees a man, and
then another. And then her mother. Awake and asleep, she settles her head
and breathes deep. She closes her eyes and smiles. Peace. Her mind is
alive with things to know. She lets go. Another world, another time. She
closes her eyes and smiles. Peace. She settles her head and moves her
arm and feels warm, and safe and sound, at ease. She closes her eyes and
We listen to believe and hope for what we don't hear. Information rapes
us as we rape it. We are a fine race. We move smoothly on our track and
look forward and look back. We put ourselves on our rack and we stretch
but we don't crack. I wonder where the visionaries went. I wonder how
we could have forsaken the vision and leapt blindly into industriall.
I wonder if we might finally succeed in making an ugly dearth of our lovely
Earth. We just might as we trust might. Did something change? All I know
is this. I was once somebody's hero but now I can't remember whose, or
Lodged in his memory like a poison splinter she remains. Even the echoes
of her words are strong enough to shake the earth. And what they did to
him. This should have been fresh start. It had felt like new
day. The hurt was gone, or not quite. There at that crucial
moment, the nagging pain, the cruel ache of living history, the inevitable
analysis and sad reverie. There is a way to kill the past. He knew there
was, but was it weakness? Why was he scared? There was only one way to
kill the past and there it still is, known to him, and he knows he can
never use it. Never.