Sin’s Arts and Entertainment editor James Falconer has been writing his own little novel, ‘The Train’…
Sebastian swam a mile against the current, just to see her, to say ‘goodbye’. He wanted to kiss her one last time. To his absolute dismay, by the time he reached the station, the train had already departed. He saw a faint trail of smoke hanging in the evening air.
He was devastated and his body began to suffer a chill from the cool breeze, which swept across the old ghostlike station. He put his hand into his wet pocket only to find it was empty. The medallion she had given him must be at the bottom of the river by now. It was gone; his last memory of her had sunk in his titanic struggle to make the train.
Whilst he stood there on the platform, a motorcar crackled into the car park at the rear of the station. Sebastian heard a door close and then the soft patter of footsteps up to the platform where he stood trembling like a damp rat. As soon as the beautiful figure turned the corner his heart suddenly pounded and he was brought back to the reality he longed for.
Immediately, Sophie’s bright blue eyes shone a new light into his very existence. This illumination increased when she opened her mouth and smiled lovingly at him. Right there, and in this very moment he knew he would spend the rest of his life adoring her with all his love. He didn’t want to say anything because he was afraid. Words seemed something of a hindrance; everything appeared to have been said, without the utterance of a word. If he could relive this moment of relief over and over again, it would be magical.
“Did you think I was on the train?” she asked, with a delicate smile.
“Of course I did; I thought I’d never see you again,” Sebastian said with a look of anguish. He wondered what else he could have thought.
“Well, we were trying to make it, but the motorcar broke down. Luckily a kind gentleman stopped and gave us assistance; otherwise, we’d be still miles away. He was a very talkative man, we tried to explain that we were trying to catch the 3.05pm train, but he persisted talking. He told us how close to the station we were: ‘ahhh it’s only up the road there a little,’ he said.”
“Maybe it wasn’t meant to be, Sophie?”
“It looks that way, my dear.”
By this time they were in touching distance. Sophie slowly outstretched her hand and placed it on Sebastian’s left cheek. She felt his cool skin and when she felt his hair she realised how wet he was.
“How did you get so wet Sebastian?”
“I swam across the river to get here. I wanted to see you before you left; in fact, I wanted to persuade you not to leave.”
“Sebastian, we’ve been through all this before. You know I’ve wanted to leave this place for many years, well, since my father was taken from us.”
Sophie’s father was murdered when she was sixteen. She was the only witness and had heard his last breath. The psychological strain of the past eight years had taken its toll; she had longed to escape the trauma. Her time had come.
“What about your mother and your little brothers and sisters? What will they do without you?” Sebastian protested.
“Listen to me, I love them. I am doing this for them, as well. If I stay here, I will end up hating them. You know, in some cases, familiarity breeds contempt, Sebastian. Now, I’ve told you already, I don’t want to discuss it any further.” Sophie sighed deeply, turned sideways and broke eye contact with Sebastian.
“Alright, alright, it’s just that I cannot be without you. I sat on the other side of the river this afternoon, thinking. I must have sat there for a few hours, I don’t know. I seemed to lose concept of time. I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to stay here without you. But even if I left this city, I don’t want to be without you either so I jumped into the river and swam.” Sebastian shuddered silently and a small tear emerged from his left eye. As Sophie turned back to face him, she saw the tear begin to trickle and wiped it from his cheek. Then she leaned forward and kissed him.
They sat on a bench holding hands, looking at the sky. Sophie rested her head backwards against the station wall. She was looking at the clouds slowly drifting by, she felt infinity with them. She was 24 years old, and began to realise the great life that awaited her. There was that little voice, which said “but what about your family, they need you.” She had become so aware of this voice that she was able to listen to it, acknowledge it, and then let it go. Sophie exhaled deeply into the sky as if to send the voice away with the passing clouds. As she exhaled deeply she awoke Sebastian from his train of thought.
Sebastian had fled Prague in 1968 when he heard that the Soviets were descending on the city. A graduate of the University of Prague, he was the eldest of 4 sons. His mother was a nurse and his father a carpenter. His parents had worked hard to give him the best opportunity to excel at university. Sebastian’s mother wanted him to study medicine, but Sebastian was too fascinated by literature. He loved the work of Franz Kafka and drew huge inspiration from it. His father encouraged him to read as much as he could. Sebastian often got lost in his thoughts.
“Why the big sigh, Sophie?” Sebastian asked, gently rubbing her hand.
“Oh, I am just letting go of the voices in my head,” she replied with another deep breath, then asked; “So are we going to catch the next train together?”
“Yes, but I don’t have my things, I need to go home to pack my bag,” Sebastian said excitedly.
“Do you think you’ll make it?” she said looking at her watch.
“Don’t worry Sophie; I am going to swim back across the river and get my uncle to drop me back here. The train doesn’t leave until 7.45pm; I will make it.” Sebastian kissed her, then turned and ran in the direction of the river.
To find out if Sebastian makes it and how the story unfolds, look out for ‘The Train’ by James Falconer in Easons, Charlie Byrnes and other outlets.