Always wanted to write, got Moleskin for Chrismas, blahblahblah.
I sometimes use songs as prompts. If you want to suggest one, feel free and I may give it a go. Read if you like, feedback appreciated, etc.
Car door. Manual lock. Did she have the keys? Pocket fumble, purse fumble, yes, in the right pocket. Close the door. Check the keys again, just in case. Notice rain. Start to jog. Cross parking lot, get to corner, notice blinking hand. She didn’t want to wait in the rain. Cross despite blinking. Jog through cross walk. Make it just as blinking stops. Two steps. Screen door. Main door propped open, unreasonably, given how cold it was outside and how warm inside. Dark wood floor, lots of scuffs, she looked at doors as she closed them in order to avoid the awkward moment of involuntary eye contact with anyone already in the room who glanced up upon her entry. Walk to counter. The guy wasn’t even looking up yet, so she shouldn’t have worried, and as the empty parking lot suggested she was the only patron present.
Joshua Nocton did not like this girl’s hat. She wore it like she was trying too hard. There was being fashionable, Joshua thought to himself, there was being unique, there was trying, and there was trying too hard, and the girl was definitely the final of these three. Worst of all, she was trying too hard in only some areas. She wasn’t committing to trying too hard. She would wear a funny hat but not bother to actually do her hair, or wear an extra-long jacket but not choose a pair of pants that suited her. Try at everything or not at all, he grumbled to himself. Right, she’ll probably be wanting coffee.
Exchange pleasantries. Select drink without taking too long to look at the menu or you’ll make the guy at the counter awkward. She wanted something fancy, but she definitely didn’t have the money if she wanted refills, which she would. Order coffee. Select Medium Roast. Yes, room for cream. Thank the gentleman. To the right for cream and sugar. Half and half not skim milk. The table squeaked when she set the jug down, making her worried, not to mention the fact that she had never figured out if you were supposed to be able to pour without taking off the top. Was it like an orange juice pitcher? Unscrew it all the way just in case. Pour until the cream hits the surface again. Guess at how much sugar because there’s no spoon. Stir stick. Look for nearest chair not in line of vision of anyone. Find corner. Sit.
How could one damn person shuffle so damn much? Josh wondered as he kicked his legs on the stool. He honestly did not understand guys that liked girls. They all either had all the confidence in the world, to the point that they were the most obnoxious people to be around you could possibly imagine, or they had none at all, like this girl. Worse yet, she was trying to seem like she had it, thinking if she put up the front it would eventually be true. Not likely, bitch. Not the way you’re going. Some people can’t be helped. Back to twitter.
Open bag. Laptop? Laptop. My baby. Paper. Write? Not yet, only one p.m. Watch YouTube for a while first. Had anyone updated? Nope. Work way through new guy. Search. Channel. Videos. Older. Older. Older. Third of way down, last watched. Next. These had better get better, she thought, because everyone seemed to like this guy, but his early stuff was just full of over-done jokes and his voice was incredibly unbroken and high even though he was ostensibly fourteen years old. Skip ad. Intro. VOLUME DOWN. Watch.
Where are we going? Why am I going there with her? Why are we getting coffee? Have I even had coffee since Norah and I broke up? What did I used to get? Mochas, weren’t those what she liked? Why did I always get the same thing she did? What would I get if I didn’t? What is Carrie getting? Did she order while I was thinking? What do all these names of drinks even mean?
Lovely, a couple. Josh always considered Sundays a grab-bag day. You never really knew who was going to be around, not the regular weekday crowd and not the Saturday regulars. Just people who didn’t want to be in their own houses, it seemed like, and wanted anywhere else that they could sit for a few hours without having to pay too much money. Couples that came in on Sundays were always the depressing kind. He had yet to see a couple come in on a Sunday that seemed happy to be together. She would have a large macchiato to go. Josh hated making those, so of course she would. And for sir? He looked completely out of his league. Josh considered throwing him a bone and making a suggestion, but it was more fun to watch him flounder, so he just continued to look questioningly at the floppy-haired 20-something in his awkward glasses. This girl is going to be the death of you, Josh thought to himself. You poor schmuck.
He guessed he would have a depth charge? To go, right? She wanted to head right off to the museum? Yes? Crap, was he supposed to pay for both? This was the second date, did that rule only apply on the first? Was he supposed to know? Did she just move for her wallet? Had he better get his too? They’ll be separate, I suppose? Yes? Now where did he need to pick up these drinks? Had they better go out this door or the other one? Could he hold hers for her so she could get out her keys? Yes? Off we go?
They were gone. Relax. Back to watching. Why did that woman keep glancing at her? She wasn’t the one with a boyfriend in tow. She just wanted to use the wi-fi in peace. Relax. Check for people watching her. Readjust sitting position and earbuds. Find cursor. Click. Watch.
The way I see it, there is nothing in this world more magical than a train. I made this decision long ago, when I was only about seven and decided that if I were ever rich, I would simply have a personal train on which I would travel everywhere and if where I wanted to go there were no train tracks, I would pay people to run ahead of my train and lay down tracks as we went so that I would never have to go anywhere without my train and could live on her always and her name would be Synthia.
It should be noted at this point that I had never ridden on a train. “In fact, never in my life have I yet ridden on a train,” is what I would have said had I written this the day before yesterday; but if I were to write that now, it would be factually inaccurate, as as of yesterday I have had my first train ride, in just the simple train that flows from one end of the city to the other; not that I was going anywhere, mind you, quite the opposite, for I had been yesterday at my grandfather’s funeral (my grandfather had been a train conductor in the days when such things were not quaint but current) and while there remembered that I used to be under the influence of trains as a small child and thought that perhaps I should finally see what I had been marveling at for years before, no doubt, I could even spell the word “marvel” yet, as I had always opted for silent letters to end words wherever possible and would no doubt have tended towards “marvle.”
The train ride was both more and less than I had ever expected. It was odd, at the start, because I was riding with people who clearly went by this means of transportation every day and thought nothing of the lovely jingle when the rotomachine made change for a dollar and then the soft “wish” when it granted you your ticket; who never considered that the voice informing you that your train would be here in 7, 7 minutes was like a voice speaking long out of the past, a voice from overhead that foretold of a journey; who had never though that the automatic doors and burgundy/royal blue seats were like being ushered into a throne room, even if it was one lit by flourescents, and in that utterly unlike anything the Pevensie children might have ruled Narnia from.
Then the train moved. And the four hours that it took to ride the route to the end of the city and home again were a blur of trying to take in details at lightning speed of every building (brown stone shuttered windows) park (three benches one fountain lots of children but no swings) house (red white curtains lovely garden) house (white paint someone’s refreshing it I wonder if he owns that house or if they hired him) building (offices probably very grey) building (apartments red brick) street (cars taxis) building (offices) street building streetbuildingbuildingcathedralbuildingbuilding until finally train station (very grey cement tried to make cheerful by blue accents but they’ve failed horribly).
[Note: Written to the song above.]
He had spent so much time out there. College. College was just this jumble of studying and classes. Nate never understood how people made friends there. Maybe he could have if he’d tried, gone out to parties of mixers or what-have-you, but it’d always seemed a bit of a waste of time and energy.
Now he sat on a train on the way home for what should be Spring Break, but in Maine was something more like Slush And Cold Break. He stared out the window, novel on his lap. The world felt bleak; not just in a sense of how the snow was on the branches or the clouds being more grey than white. It was something about the light, the way it reflected on the ice and his last two years.
He had thought it would be an almost magical time of independence and new things, college. Instead, the only word he could ever accurately find was disillusioning.
Everything felt the same, and in the worst possible way.
It was then that she let herself into the corner of his mind, like someone sheepishly coming in a black door and hoping not to bring too much snow on their boots. Katherine Jennifer Slatts- the high school girlfriend, the one he was supposed to keep in touch with. After a few letters on very pretty paper she’d given up. Logically, Katherine’s moments of slipping in should be signs that he still loved her, had affection for her. But there could be no echoes of a feeling that didn’t have an original to imitate.
“Lewistown Station, Lewistown, Maine.”
He unhuddled from his place in his mental snow bank and grabbed his backpack and suitcase, balancing one over each shoulder. He walked to the doors nearest him, watching for them to open and already thinking what he would do at his parents’ house for two weeks. He would need to find more books, he decided. There was a Barnes and Noble not far away, or he could see if his old library card still functioned.
The doors slid open.
Maybe there was still that small shop-
She was there.
About to board his train.
Staring with at least as much surprise at Nate as he was at her.
It was a split-second full of observation, as re-meetings so often are.
It was cold.
Her hair had gotten longer.
Darker too, brown waves just the colour of a lamp his mother owned, dark, metallic.
She didn’t wear glasses anymore, or too much make-up.
She had on a long, old-fashioned overcoat. Plum on the purple side.
Her hat didn’t match it, too pink.
She was clutching determinedly to two stiff suitcases of the vintage sort.
His was canvas- modern, practical, and cheap; more a bag than a suitcase, really. And his old high school backpack.
A pea-coat, black, but with a hood of a sweatshirt-y material making it less a mature fashion statement and more the look of an older child going sulkily to church.
His glasses were the same wiry, thin apparatus she’d known.
His hair wanted cutting, it was starting to curl.
Her mind was two colliding waves. One, of the good things she had always felt for being his girlfriend. He was always warm. He fit the four criteria for describing the person you liked- smart, funny, cute, and nice, all suffixed by ‘enough.’ They had had their moments in the five months they had dated. Met each other’s parents, gone to movies, all the usual.
And that was where the other wave came in, the one that eddied her eventually to this platform, though she wasn’t fully aware of that. He had been all stock answers. She had had perfect conversations with him almost daily, but he had always felt missing, absent, like a chocolate Easter rabbit that isn’t solid all the way through. Hollow.
She had tried. All four of the months she’d been aware of it, trying to trick and prod him into filling in. Even when he was off at college and she was still working at her family’s AmericInn she’d made attempts. But even when she gave up, she couldn’t shake it, this feeling of a window left open in an already-too-cold room.
And here they were. On a too-cold day, unable to comprehend the improbability yet clear possibility of their meeting.
And all she could think to say was, “I have to take this.”
And he said, “Ok.”
So he watched the train pull out toward the North.
And he went home.