On Trains

It was beginning to occur to him that his life was like a train on a train line.

On trains, he would spend hours staring out of windows – his eyes passively fixing on a house, or a hill, or the hyperboloid cooling tower of a power station. And in each object of his gaze – in its bold contingency; in its refreshing unfamiliarity; in its difference from other things, and from himself – he would find recourse to imagine new ideas, plans, and possibilities. He would watch them all intently… whizzing past, out of sight.

At train stations, he would stand there and survey digital displays; trains of place names, tickering away… Where are those place names trying to get to? Perhaps back to the places they describe… But they never get far… They always end up back on the board… Tickering away…

On trains, he would speed past rows of adjacent suburban back gardens – fenced-off moments in time – flitting – like frames – in a zoetrope. A split-second the length of days would reveal a woman amongst the flowerbeds, a basket in her hand, turning to look at her dog; an old black Labrador, its muzzle greying with age, walking up to meet her on stiff legs.

In the end, he always arrived at the place he was expecting to arrive at. And it was always a place – one place or another – from which he had departed before.

And it was beginning to occur to him that his life was like a train on a train line.

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