Train Ride – a short story by John N. Harper

My eyes are not my own. People frown at me when I tell them that. The eyes on my person are not the eyes I was born with. I rub them. Thinking about it makes me itch all over. Thinking about where I got these eyes unnerves me. They’re dead eyes. Eyes from a cadaver…. Read more »

by John N. Harper 1 month ago

My eyes are not my own. People frown at me when I tell them that. The eyes on my person are not the eyes I was born with. I rub them. Thinking about it makes me itch all over. Thinking about where I got these eyes unnerves me. They’re dead eyes. Eyes from a cadaver.

We pull to a stop at Gillingham train station. It’s dank. It’s dingy. And someone probably earned a great
deal of cash from some unsavoury substances last night. Gillingham train station can be attributed as the perfect place for a murder scene. Thinking about it, I swear I heard something on the news.

The train takes off almost immediately after stopping. This always happens. Trains around here never seem to want to stay still for too long. As if they are afraid of what might happen to them. I can empathise with that fear.

The announcement for the next stop plays out from ruined speakers. Six minutes to Rainham. This train has been on the tracks for many years and has dealt with drunks and students alike. Each of those being hand-in- hand. I hate to admit it, but I also fit into these categories. When you deal with alcohol, you’re filled with a false sense of freedom. You have shackles at your feet. I feel free to do as I please, as long as I conform to the metre boundary these shackles dominate.

We’re picking up speed. Towns full of people rush past me before the train escapes into a tunnel of orange light. Movement is relative to ourselves. My train is travelling yet I am in a fixed state within it. Therefore, I’m not moving at all. Merely waiting. This might be why some of us feel unproductive. Even when we work ourselves to the bone on our computers all day, we still feel lazy.

It is near midnight and I return home this summer to visit family. Just family. Family that I’ve been distant from for the last few years. I wish I could warn them that I’m nearly there. I did away with phones a long time ago. Pesky things. Full of voices that nobody listens to. Filled with emotional baggage and bitter souls.

It’s dark out.

I’m hesitant to look into it. Mainly because of the reflection. I can only see myself. What I am and who I’m not, where I’ve been and when I’m going. Not being able to see outside means that what exists in the world is in here. I’m in a bubble of fantasy. The outside isn’t real when I’m in here. I will keep that fantasy going for the remainder of this train ride.

We pull into Rainham. As dead as can be. A man in a grey hoodie gets on and shuffles past without a word. Although he hovers ever-so slightly when he smells me – passing judgement. He has no idea who I am. I think that in my head not out of vanity but out of a plead for forgiveness. Whatever brought me down this path is not his business. But if it was…then I’m sure he’d look at me with sorrowful eyes.

The train carries on moving. A slower start than usual. I pay it no mind. The man is sat at a chair two rows behind me. I wonder why he’s here so late. Not a single other person has passed me by this last hour. Maybe he’s as lost as I am. I doubt I could find anyone so damned.

Let’s draw attention back to my eyes. I’m colour blind now.

The eyes that are not my own are colour blind. I see grey where there is green. Black where there is red. And a tinge of smoke in the dwelling of yellow. My world is black and white. And that’s fine by me. For it has allowed me to look past things. People concentrate on colour too much. When you have the ability to see no colour it becomes irrelevant. When you have that privilege, you see how pathetic it all is. You can’t hide anything without colour.

Sometimes I feel blessed to have this. And others I question my place in society and whether I can function as any other man or woman should. My life got turned to ash the day I lost my eyes. The accident was not so much that. People like to tell me otherwise. I merely did what I’ve done today – meanwhile someone was plotting. That’s it. You don’t need to know anymore…

And…oh. I wasn’t paying attention. We’re already at the next station.

This is my stop.