Unexpected Stations

The years had flickered past like trees passing the windows of a train. Ben tried hard not to remember the early years, abruptly cutting the rails of his life. Memories could bring up unwanted feelings and emotions.

Ben never rode trains of any sort as an adult. The subway could well have disappeared without his notice. There was no one to tell, but even if there had been Ben wouldn’t have mentioned it. Trains brought nightmares, and Ben avoided his nightmares.

So, he walked to work every day of his adult life. From his small, unassuming apartment to the store, it wasn’t far.

Today, he passed a pile of garbage. Someone’s possessions thrown out on the street in a jumble. A trash pile that was mostly full of books and papers.

He scratched his chin as he passed by. Who would throw their books and notes on the sidewalk? Perhaps a jealous partner had gotten fed-up after another lonely night in a cold bed.

His eyes were dragged to one particular book, like iron under the invisible spell of a great magnet. Perhaps it was the color of the cover. Perhaps it was his subconscious mind. Perhaps it was simply meant to be.

Ben stopped, leaned over, and pulled the object of his attention out of the heap for he knew precisely what it was. A jolt surged through his hand like electricity.

He remembered the train rides into another city, in another country, a lifetime ago. His mother had sat beside him, favoring him with a window seat. She had taken Ben with her to her job at the university. He could still smell the old paper smell of her office. Ben remembered the big desk, leather-cornered blotter, and the ink pen stationed under the green desk lamp. This forgotten memory of the time before it happened rumbled into his head.

His mother’s name, in a language he had once known, was embossed across the spine of the book in his shaking hand. He knew this fact, though his eyes were too blurry to properly focus. He heard her high-pitched voice with its pronunciation as clear and precise as clockwork, as if she stood before him right at that moment: “Come along, Benjamin. This is our station.”


Picture linked via Writing My Legacy.


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