I’m already late and I just got here.
East Brook to West Claritas in ten minutes – St. Tumult four stops from Resolve Central – South Stationary to North Station in half an hour – Vulture’s Green replacement bus service from Thirsty Blues, Pink Velvet midway stop detour –Fast train to Hollow Pockets Station departing in two minutes – Torment Lane to Triumph Street in fourteen minutes – Change from Gloom Line to Plusview Line, ironic third stop at Progression Ave. Station – Lesser Laden to Greater Dalai in eight minutes – Train at Evolve Line delayed, more news to come – Courting Court train diversion to Temporary Station, replacement bus service to North East Contento in eleven, twelve, thirteen minutes.
Disparaged by time I head in the direction of the next departure. Beside me stand the proudly independent enticements for minor expenditure; petty in comparison to the homogenised big names towering over them, nevertheless they flourish in the acquisition of income through government-certified trade. I briefly stop by one of them and buy a sausage roll.
Mastication, savouring and ingestion: the machinations to uphold my indecisiveness, my so-called forward-thinking attitude recoils, like a hare at the sighting of a fox, back into the voids of infinite possibilities where I revel in the comfort of immobility. I sit on a wooden bench plastered with outlines of rheumatic beasts, I suppose it is a nostalgic attempt at transitory luxury accounting for the wood; I continue eating. Comfort of immobility is exactly right; the safest of all paths is no path. If no leap is taken I am immune to the necessity of faith. This is only so, I keep telling myself, due to the overwhelming amount of choices and complications in today’s hectic menu of destinations. Like a bipolar Dr Seuss I am unsure of where to go and who to see and what to do and who to be. Of course I cannot stay here, this is purgatory, a nether-stage in which I’ve dwelled for too long. But where to, then?
Halfway through the sausage roll I directly face two adverts placed abreast in the form of giant posters. The first displays a spotlight illuminating the new McHeart-Attack, deliciously covered with superficially gorgeous-looking buns. It’s layered with a flawlessly grilled patty, perfection defined as slightly melted cheese, refined crispy bacon, hints of mayo oozing from the corners of this picturesque monstrosity, God-knows-what else hidden away inside and the paradoxical final touch of lettuce. Spuriously seductive, the average passer-by is a prey to its subliminal claws of temptation. Even as I’m invigorated in the fulfilment of replenishing my craving stomach, the burger is irresistible and I begin to imagine what the concoction of ready-made ingredients must taste like under the warmth of their paper wrapping before being delivered to a starving customer.
Alongside this ad, the other one is as simplistic and arguably as impactful. A pulchritudinous man, toned to appear more machine-like than human, is standing with his back to the viewer as he flexes his everythings. The man looks between the ages of just out of college and almost finished with university; he is peering over his shoulder to the bystander with a condescending smirk, purging all self-worth in any male that conforms to the societal preconception of what is handsome in their sex. A bold and flaming red text at the man’s side reads out “Join today at a discount. Full membership, half price!” The name of the gym is irrelevant. These ads propose forms of bliss; one is short-term with consequential remorse and the other a long-term victory crammed with months of hardship and aggravation. Choice, a thing (definitely accidentally) forced onto the riddled minds that perceive the two posters next to each other.
I scurry off and throw away the empty wrap in the bin. As an upcoming train is revealed to be available in Platform 8 I definitively set my aim to board it. The sound of people walking and communicating and making utterly needless reactionary sighs and moans stops me from clear thought. I feel a vibration on my thigh and pull out my phone, only to find that I had received no messages or notifications. I feel uninteresting. In a shallow recalling of my own personal achievements, I remember it’s been exactly eleven months, two days, four hours and twenty-two minutes since I’ve had sex. Coincidentally, it’s been eleven months, two days, four hours and thirty-seven minutes since the last time I heard another person say: “I love you” to me.
Upon my arrival to the platform I immediately turn and change my mind. Instead, I choose to find shelter in a WH Smith, where I can gloss over the lives of people much more beloved than me inside of periodical publications. It seems I cannot make my own steps before me; questions permeate my confidence, rhetorical only due to the difficulty in answering them. What if something bad happens? What if I don’t like where I go? What if no one ends up liking me? What if I don’t achieve what I want? What if I end up back here?
Two more of these questions would have settled that I should just return home, a conclusion that I was never intended to surpass the anxious bubble of doubts my personality began with, when my leg felt an unusual jolt surge through it.
Heard you were back in the city! 🙂
Amid shock and disbelief I manage to fish out contentedness. A heart in atrophy cannot gather positivity naturally; it bears these sorts of things with initial scepticism. I mean an exclamation mark and a smiley face; it all seemed a bit unreal. Nevertheless, the message was there and sent to me of all people. In the drowning moments of uncertainty, swimming among a boisterous crowd of travellers (who deafened any lucidity with their endless and grating chatter), I see something: a feasible destination, offering a jumpstart from this dilatory pity-party of motionlessness. Determined, I make my return to platform 8 seeing that I had two more minutes to board.
The consequential dead-ends continued swarming my mind, but I chose to ignore them, grasping the idea that they would never die. The what ifs will always be there, but if I am to encounter them I’ll just have to board another train. What was that thing Lao Tzu said? Probably had nothing to do with trains. I ascend tranquilly, watching others embark in the obligated rush following the last-minute warnings issued out by the conductor. Before I find a seat the starting motion of the vehicle pulls me forward. The train station goes from being the world revolving around me to a distant portrait to a smudge of distinctive colours to nothing.
Here’s to moving.