The story behind the picture.

“We’ll soon arrive in station……”
“…. in 30 minutes..”
“ …. please take care of your baggage…” “…… and have a nice day..”

I wonder when they’ll fix those blurry speakers.

It has been hours since I sat on this seemingly endless journey. I wondered where will find myself. But soon I realized, why should I? I took this train because of the realization that it would take me toward a specific location. It was long before I noticed how the short hand had already landed on 11 pm. The blankets of which I had laid upon me were rendered useless as I clutches on more clothes to keep myself warm against the cold air.

I quickly changed my clothes, putting another layer of t-shirt before covering it with my sweater. Changing clothes was never the problem with night trains considering that barely half of the seats were occupied and most of them were asleep. The cabin’s lights were off but the luminescences of the outside were enough to give me some sort of visibility. I’d always take the mirror’s seat every time I took the train. The most plausible explanation for it is the scenery but it was overruled due to the fact that I always travel at night. Maybe that’s why, because of the night.

Going at 124 kilometres an hour, the only light source I have was the dashes of light as the train passes by. Occasionally. Sometimes there would only be darkness. A perfect reflection of what my heart feels like.

“One hour left…”
Before my big day. Supposedly. And yet, it’s also the reason why I left. A little earlier, I would have been searched, a little of longer, I would have gone insane. The feeling that my heart can no longer hold, screamed out, distorting my perception of reality. Never had I thought that such emotion could cause pain of such magnitude.

I’d slide my phone, just to see if there’s any notification worth seeing. As much as I want to let go, something inside of me kept on wishing. Maybe, just maybe it’ll change. The brightness of the screen blinded my eyes, flashing the situation with white light and even then, I was still alone. Whether it was bright as day, or dark as night, I was always alone. Thousands of miles away from home, on a foreign land, hoping to find an escape. But it haunted my for every corner I turned into. And now I found myself on the road again. Hoping to find serenity in a foreign land.

“..Next station….”
“…. Please be careful when the …”
“…. opens ….”

“I wonder when they’ll fix those blurry speakers.”
A stranger’s voice pierced the silence. I turned around to see a rather blurry silhouette standing in front of me.

“Hey, could I sit next to you till the next station?”

I nodded. It was a girl. From a single glance, she seemed like 20 or older with her long, striking, black, hair as dark the night was dangling to her back. She sat next to me and covered herself in a blanket in such ways that it resembles me earlier. She thanked me for the seat and explained the purpose of her action to such a stranger. It seems that sitting beside me puts her in a more secure situation as she put it ‘it’s easier to sit beside a stranger you’re brave against’ than to sit alone.

“Plus, you seemed like a nice guy”

The silence of night lulled the other passengers into a deep sleep. But I soon myself awakened by the loneliness. Both of us were. She would ask a question, trying to convey a conversation but I was too lazy to answer them longer than a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. It doesn’t take much for her to stop asking, and once again, surrounding the cabin with silence. Every now and then I would glance over, catching a look of what she’s up to. As the train passes by an empty station, all I could saw was nothing but the glimmer in her eyes as it reflects the lights outside.

“Lights..” She whispered.

“…the visible reminder of invisible lights..”
I continued.

“It’s beautiful”

“What is?”

“The scenery..”

“There’s nothing to see at night”
I replied as I yawn over the view.

“There’s more to just ‘the view’”

Maybe she’s right. Maybe that’s why I always took the night train. Because there’s more to it than just the view. Sometimes, the reason we chose to avoid the light is not because we hate it, we just misses the night. It wasn’t long before we continuously talk over random subjects. There’s 30 minutes left before my final stop, our final stop. And yet, it felt like the longest 30 minutes of my life. She was, in a way, the opposite of me. She travels from one place to another to discover new things and keep those moments eternally in the form of a photograph. She would bring numerous empty albums to be filled by the end of her journey. In each picture lies a story worth a thousand letters. A memento of the past to her future self. She said it served ‘as a reminder of who I was, to who I will be’.

“Who are you visiting?” I asked. The question has been hanging around my mind. I was either curious, or just wanted the conversation to continue.

She took awhile to answer.

“My boyfriend…”
“… What about you?..”

“Umm.. My girlfriend”
I hesitated.

“Let’s hope they’re not jealous then.”
“..haha..”
She replied as she laughed slowly. The talk soon turned into silence. And I’ve been quiet for too long to suddenly start a conversation. My mind once again asked me to converse in words, but all I could let out was the cold breath as it vaporizes on the window. The scenery soon turns brighter, as we slowly reach our final stop, the central.

And lights were all it was. The station was empty of passengers except of the ones on board. All I could hear was the sound of vending machines serving nonexistent customer, looping the same message over and over again. The only living flesh I could see was the workers of the public transportation service. Even they had announced that it’ll be their last trip.
The crowd soon dispersed, going to their own direction. It didn’t take long before all that was left was her and me.

“Send my regards to your girlfriend…”
She smiled.

“Tell your guy I said ‘hi’”
I replied. We both walk equally the same distance towards the gate. As much I wanted to ask, I couldn’t.

“This is goodbye then….”
“… My friend is here”
She said as she walked forward, leaving me behind.

“..Bye.”
I replied. We both went our own ways. Dispersing the final group of individuals. Because that is what we were from the beginning, a group of individuals.

“… Hey…”
The voice shouted. It was her again. She grabbed her camera and snaps a picture of me. When the film came out, she quickly handed it over to me. And as she left and turns for one last time.

“Hey, about the boyfriend….”
“.. I lied”
“I’ve been through a bad breakup.. and..”
“…and what I wanted to say is thank you..”
“ .. for the company”
“ hahaha”
She smiled. and I ,too, found myself smiling amidst the empty building.

“Me too”
I replied.

“Hope to see you again in another train”
She smiled as she waved me goodbye. She soon entered her friend’s car and left.

And that was the end of it. She will always be ‘that girl embedded by the night’, and I will always be ‘the missing picture in her album’.

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