Link to the episode (peloruspodcast.com/podcast/2018/3/19/the-train)
This is Pelorus. I’m Steven Lehmann
You board the train, in the evening. After work. Like you always do. You stand in the right spot. As the train pulls-in, the doors line up perfectly with you. You let the passengers off first because you aren't a monster.
You take one giant step up to the train. You turn left as you board. You always turn left. You walk to the middle of the carriage, grab the window seat facing forwards in a group of 6 seats. 3 facing forwards, 3 facing backwards. This isn't your favourite kind of train. The 3 seats can make it a bit tight and uncomfortable on the way home, but people don't like to sit in that middle seat, so sometimes, you get more room. You like that gamble.
You pull out a book and start to read. The train slowly fills up, seat by seat, as time ticks by, as we edge ever closer to departure time. You hear the doors close one final time. The seat next to you is empty, it is the only one in this section that is. You feel the engines of the train engage through your seat, and there is a split second of this strange motionless but engaged state before the train pulls away.
Seconds later someone takes that empty seat to the right of you. You shuffle over to give them more room and glance up from your book as you do so. You are flustered now. She's incredible. An image of perfection. It doesn't matter that you only caught half of her face and even that half was obscured by her long messy hair. It didn't matter in the slightest. You are infatuated. Truly. Deeply. Inescapably infatuated by this woman with whom you have but shared a glance. Time is moving slowly now as your brain runs faster than a supercomputer.
“Thanks” she says.
Thanks…Thanks...You savour each and every air molecule that her speech moves. Individually evaluating each peak and trough that her sound waves create. Following the waveform up and down as it hits your eardrum, following the pulse of the neurons that fire, following those firings to your brain, which is now lit up like a gaudy Christmas tree in the middle of January.
She places her bag in the luggage rack above. You try to return your attention to your book, but the words are losing their meaning, they have just becomes lines on a page, as indecipherable to you as some long dead language in an unknown script, these words must have meaning, they are printed on paper, clearly they were meaningful to whoever wrote them, but for the life of you you can't decipher them. Your brain is still far too occupied extracting every last drop of endorphins from the word “Thanks”.
She's finished putting her bag in the luggage rack now and begins to sit down. As she sits her entire left side makes contact with your right. Outer thigh touching outer thigh. Upper arm against upper arm. Shoulder to shoulder. As this happens you also get a whiff of her perfume. This combined with the physical contact sends you off in to an almost psychedelic state. As you breathe in the perfume, it breathes you in too. Like a black hole it spaghettifies you, contorting you out of shape before sucking you down and transporting you away.
There is a soft white cloud in front of you and you brush it away lightly with your hand. You are back in the station, waiting for another train. The station is quieter than usual, must be a Friday. You are the only one waiting at this spot. But not for long. She walks up next to you, the woman you are sitting next to that is. You look over and smile at her. She smiles back. “Hey” she says. Or at least you think she says. Her mouth moves but you don't hear a sound. Your mouth moves now and you don't make a sound either. You are having a conversation now, you don't know what about, you can't hear the words, all you can hear is the soft hum of train station white noise. You're both laughing and smiling, the train arrives and you both step aboard, it's darker than normal in here. You both turn left. You walk down the corridor and up to the bar.
You're both leaning on the bar with one arm. Your left. Her right. Looking at each other and talking. There's a glass in your hand now filled with a pinky purple liquid, in her hand is an elaborate cocktail glass with a glistening rainbow coloured drink in it.
You raise your glass to your lips and you swallow the sickly sweet beverage. it is ice cold and freezes you from the insides out, first your throat, then your stomach, then your blood. You're stuck, rigid in position now. She moves closer to you, glass held in both hands, three straws in her mouth. She sucks hard on the straws and as she does so the floor gets sucked up closer and closer to you as the ceiling stays where it is. Your vision gets narrower and narrower as the world around you gets more distorted with each passing second. But you both continue to smile. You should be feeling pain as your worlds close in around you, but you don't. Time ticks by, the crushing continues. You are both compressed down to the point at which you no longer exist in three dimensions. Now just two. But you have each other. You see the single line which you understand to be her, the one that is looking back at you, you think it is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen in your life. She laughs in two dimensions and then breaths a deep and heavy sigh, but a sigh that is caring.
This sigh inflates you both and the space around you, you pop back in to three dimensions, but she continues to sigh. You join in the sighing. You expand and cross in to the fourth dimension together, interlocked and repeating you become one. Crossing continuously into higher and higher dimensional space until you are both just pure consciousness, pure connectedness. You are one and you are everything.
The train sudders to a stop and suddenly you are brought back to reality. The body to body contact that was fueling this trip has been broken, and she rises from her seat. She quickly collects her things and walks forwards towards the doors. She steps down off the train and walks off into the distance. As the train moves on past her, she looks back over her shoulder with a blank look on her face. You catch a glimpse of her eyes as the train accelerates past her. You look deeply into these eyes, as she looks deeply into you.
You are thinking about nothing now... Nothing... Other than these words. You feel empty. You are empty. You don’t think another thought for the whole rest of your journey.
You miss your stop and stay on the train all the way until it’s final destination. You get shuffled off the train by an anxious driver. You get off and pass through the open barriers at the station and out in to the crisp air. You breathe it in. You walk down the small hill and out onto the beach.
It’s freezing cold outside but you don't really mind, you walk down it’s soft sandiness, the more you walk the more grains of sand enter your shoes. You can feel each grain of sand through your socks, each one telling you its life story, of how it was once part of a mountain or coral, and how it came it be here on this day, at this time, to meet you and become a part of you and your experience.
You don’t stop walking. You continue your slow meander down the slope of the beach and in to the sea. The water cleans the sand of your shoes as the waves crash and flow up the beach. You continue to walk further in to the sea, it crosses your ankle, your knee, and then you stop, you are now standing waist deep in the murky water. It’s fairly calm for this time of year. You feel the cold of the ocean on your skin but you don't really feel it. You know it's cold, you know you you should be feeling something, but you don't. The longer you stand there the more salt you can feel on your clothes and skin, and can taste in the air.
You eventually drag yourself out of the sea, dripping wet. You feel three times heavier than when you entered. You find an old wooden bench near the shore to sit on. You look out at the horizon for what feels like hours. You watch the waves crash and retreat, crash and retreat. Day turns to night, the moon and stars ignite, crash and retreat, crash and retreat. Night turns to day again, crash and retreat, crash and retreat.
You have dried out now, or as best as you will in this air. You think about leaving, but seconds later someone takes that empty seat to the right of you. You shuffle over to give them more room and glance up.
“Thanks” she says.
This episode of Pelorus is written and produced by me, Steven Lehmann. Our outro music is Simplicity by Macroform. If you ever want to contact us you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @PelorusPod, we also have a Youtube Channel and a website, peloruspodcast.com.
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Life is a tiny potted cactus
We'll see you next time.