Train(ing)

by Nicholas Amadeus Siennicki

She looked up from the glare of her phone screen, closing her eyes for a moment as she stretched her back and allowed her head to roll backwards. The monotonous thudding of metal wheels running along tracks pervaded through the barrier of sound that her headphones were creating, just for a moment. She looked down at her phone again, but quickly paused the music and flipped the screen off, reaching to put it in her bag. There was just something about having the allure of all the world’s information, right there at the tip of your fingers, wasn’t there? Something that compelled you to search more, and more, and more. She’d do it every day, for hours and hours, as the train ferried her backwards and forwards along its line.

But her eyes hurt, and her day had been dragged out longer than necessary. So, she was in a space of little patience, especially as far as the barrage of electronic information was concerned. So she let her head rest against the fabric of the seat, allowing her eyes to wander around the buggy. Some people focused on their screens as the rattle and shake of the train bounced them back and forth – little gumdrop bubbles in a container. Some people were like her, eyes wandering aimlessly to and fro, either as exhausted by long days as she was or simply trying to muscle through a few short stops.

She found that people were so impatient in trains. It was an interim between steps in life, and she reveled those stolen moments, at least, usually. Sure, right now she was a little too overexposed to be breathing in new information, but being shuttled backwards and forwards and backwards and forwards gave her a few precious hours where she was utterly, and completely alone. Not physically, of course. Physically she was surrounded by people drifting in and out of some stage of fleeting consciousness.

But mentally? Mentally this was a space without restriction. Without the constant feeling of pressure that was draped over her normally. Without the responsibilities, and the commitments, and the consequences. Here, she had an hour to just… be herself. Nobody would judge her for browsing her phone, or lazing around, or just not doing anything. Nobody would, and least of all herself. There was an elegant sort of surrender to the realization that no real productivity could be accomplished in the moment, what with the rattling of the carriage or the general slight discomfort of it all. She had an hour, well and truly to herself.

Maybe some people would find that boring, or intimidating. She guessed that the secret lay in being able to sit with oneself. But she was great company, in the brief moments she visited herself. Of course between the internet and her hobbies and her work, she really did not spend enough time just… sitting with herself. Y’know what? She should take herself out, to a little dinner. She’d spoil her, treat her real nice. She knew everything she liked, after all, and after dinner, a nice soak in the tub, she’d do her nails over some fragrant candle and a show about something melodramatic. Teenage vampires? Or was that overdone? Maybe criminal procedural. That sounded nice. She’d like that, probably. She’d throw in some wine. Then she’d definitely like it.

She sighed and slouched down in her seat. Nice thoughts like that crossed her head often enough, but wasn’t it ever so difficult to implement them? It felt like so much stood between her and being able to actuate any of the things that floated through her mind. Like she would have to jump through some magnificently impossible hoops between here and a quiet nice night alone. A friend would call her; her boyfriend would text her. Things she loved, and things she usually loved to do… but she kept choosing those things over a night loving herself.

That was it, wasn’t it? Why she liked the train so much. ‘Cause even if she didn’t get that self care and self love and self-self that everyone seemed to crow on about, she still had a few hours in the week dedicated to at least considering it. And for her, sometimes thinking it made it more real than doing it. Her food might be made poorly, the water might be too hot, the episode bad. All that effort to take herself out on a date, wasted. Going out with friends was always safe. She loved her friends, and they were such good company. Was she always like that?

She shook her head and pulled her phone out of her bag.

That was well enough thinking for now.

Banner illustration courtesy of tookapic, CC0 Public Domain.

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