Across the Carriage

The city rushes by, a blur of concrete and rock, of shapeless faces and and soulless ads.

As I look up, across the grey mass there is a sky, white and bloated clouds scattered wildly across forget-me-not blue. They all move as the wind directs them. The currents of the sphere. So much like its aquatic counterpart. Shadows of birds sail this bottomless ocean, some made of flesh and blood, others of metal and fire.

I sway with the motion of the cabin, with the current that sways my fellow travellers heads. Seated they mumble, laugh, dream and read. Row after row of heads rushing the way the man-made motion drags them.

They are a pallid mass of indifference, of unseeing focus.

Not a seat left to spare, yet I am the only one standing. Just. Except for one.

A man, clad in brown and grey, a white dress-shirt and a longshoreman’s cap. He is standing across the cabin. I see him through panels of division glass. He is my mirror, leaning slightly against the division behind him glancing out at the sky and across the locomotion bumble of heads. Even from this distance I see deep lines, some burying the memories of joy, some of pain.

Our eyes lock, for a moment, connected in disconnection we stand. Two sides of however many coinages. Disconnected connection through time, age, space.

I feel the muscles of my face pull upward just as I see him smile. As the furrows of happiness across his face deepen I know his story, I see his background. I see love and compassion. A partner he met in his early twenties, not love at first but a ever deepening friendship that eventually turned into equal dependency, the knowledge that a life without the other would no longer be worth living. A dawning awareness that this is love, not just emotional dependency, but the foundation of a life together. Trust, affection, respect. A wedding, duckling-yellow flowers at the reception, a moderate cake, surrounded by friends and family. Children. A house by the river and bonfire summers. Moons fade. Seasons come and go. Life continues until it just stops to. Deepening canyons of worries and pain.

Now he is here, in this carriage, alone.

With the blink of an eye, or a sharp turn in the tracks, I do not know, our connection is broken.

We continue to steal glances once in a while, share another smile or two. Enjoy the passage of the clouds. As the scene beyond turns green and wide, as it turns blue for an instance and then concrete again.

With a push it stops and doors slide open to release the blabbering mass.

I turn, maybe to wave a good-bye, to get one last smile. A tall man’s back blocks my view. A laughing child dangles from his arm, stretching out in a joyful greeting.

As my position shifts the brown and grey clad man bends over to receive the hug. The tall man’s smiling eyes are the old one’s double. They too have seen joy and pain and will continue just the same.

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