Rain skidded across the window, the smaller drops holding still, helpless in the path of their larger cousins, which sped forth and absorbed everything in their path. The carriage was a wasteland of raindrop-on-raindrop destruction. Alex watched for a moment and then adjusted his focus to the industrial buildings speeding past in the background, graffiti crawling up the walls only to be endlessly scrubbed off and re-painted.
Meaningless battles, Alex thought.
The buildings gave way to indistinguishable houses and then to endless farmland, cattle huddling together in the damp. He rested his head against the glass and let the vibrations of the train rattle through him.
Jane tugged at his arm and offered a soft shoulder. Alex shook his head. “I want to feel like I’m moving,” he said.
They sat, together but apart, facing backwards so that they saw only where the train was now and where it had been. The reflections of other passengers superimposed blank expressions onto the unchanging landscape: bored eyes gasping for something new to burst through the countryside and grab them by the throats.
Jane looked at Alex with beautiful eyes that said, I loved you.
Alex looked away. Raindrops and grassland.
He refocused and realised the tannoy had been blasting coffee information, light humor from the conductor, station names. “… Lancaster, Preston, Wigan North Western …” Gunpowder, treason and plot. He shut his eyes, wishing this away, and kept them tight; even when he felt tender hands brush against his arm and the change in engine pitch that meant the train was slowing down, he didn’t let the world seep in. He willed his memories, already fading, to come back to him: holding hands on the beach as the wind blew their hair into their eyes, watching the sun go down over toiling waves and the calls of flapping seagulls helpless to the ebb and flow of the wind. His eyelids were gates, trapping this in his head forever.
The train pulled to a stop and Alex thought he heard his name but couldn’t be sure, wasn’t ready to open up and let her go.
The doors swished open and Jane walked out into the light.
Ben Werdmuller is a writer and digital native.
This story was sponsored by
Camilla d’Errico: A character designer and artist who dances on the tightrope between pop surrealist art and manga inspired graphics. Explore her paintings, characters and comics: Tanpopo, BURN and Helmetgirls.