Monday, 14 March 2011

Arcadia


A variety of folks had got on and off the train as it rocked on it's way, some had stayed a short while and others longer but he barely saw them as he stared at a grey industrial landscape. Sometimes the clouds would break, the late winter sun lighting the carriage with a promise of coming spring and he dared to relax, enjoying the warmth of the sun on his back. The world outside his window was beginning to change, there was a new warmth in the air and the changing light seemed to accentuate small beauties in the evolving landscape. The changes were subtle and his view through the window was limited so he lapsed into an imaginary world, the one he felt was somewhere just beyond what he could see. The place in his mind was just a little more beautiful than any he had seen so far, the quiet more peaceful, the work more fulfilling, zephyr winds played music in the trees, there were colourful birds and richly scented flowers. He had travelled this way for some time, alternating between the train induced torpor and his imagined Eden so when she entered the train he registered a new presence but didn't identify it. It might have been a woman but seemed more like a benevolent poltergeist. Her aura waxed and waned, sometimes he watched her flitting about poking fun at the passengers who took themselves oh so seriously, sometimes she seemed to sit quietly observing. The train grew cold as it entered the shadow of the mountain, he shivered a little and hoped they would soon round a bend into the sun but the train was not destined to circuit the mountain and he felt a growing chill as it entered a dark tunnel. The darkness was almost palpable and terrifyingly isolating. He could only hear the noise of the train, he could only see darkness, his heart started to race and his breath seemed not to reach his lungs. Could he feel something? was it real or imagined, this sense of warmth? He concentrated and felt sure there was a gentle warmth on his right hand side. Feeling a little silly he extended his pinky out beside him, if there was someone there they must be close, then suddenly annoyed at this bold movement into his territory he shrunk away. The window was quite cold and he leaned on it, reassured by the tangible pinch of cold reality but again he became aware of the presence. "Talk to me" it seemed to say "relax, the tunnel will end." He wanted to believe it but still he resented this thing and sensing his resentment it chilled a little. He was starting to miss it when it reappeared and so begun a push and pull, uncomfortable but compelling. Sometimes he fancied he heard it speak, sometimes it had the sweet smell of gardenias, just occasionally it caressed him tenderly and his heart skipped a beat before he remembered to resent it. Sometimes it's bony finger jabbed him under the ribs and he slapped it away. He loved and hated it in equal measure as it gradually became a comforting distraction. With each passing leg of the journey he wondered what mood he would find it in. Even with all of it's predictable unpredictability he came to expect it's presence and developed a grudging love of it's idiosyncrasies. He became so focussed on detecting the mood of the moment that the approaching light was close and bright before he saw it. The train pulled out of the tunnel into bright sunshine, his station was close now. As he stepped from the train the nondescript woman in the waitress' uniform was invisible to him, temporarily blinded by the sun but he could smell gardenias as he looked forward to a meal in the new restaurant up the hill, "Arcadia".

15 comments:

  1. Wonderfully written Kylie. In such a short story, so many very real human emotions. I was glad to see your character leave the tunnel and step out into the sun.

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  2. thanks mike!
    i always love a happy ending, myself, to the extent that a friend of mine tells me i put too high a premium on resolution!

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  3. Ah I love a happy ending too.

    This is great, Kylie. Really good writing. Some lines stand out, like "reassured by the tangible pinch of cold reality"!

    I like the photo you chose...

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  4. well, what can I say? Loved it, dahling..*mwah mwah* - both cheeks of course!

    Very much the 'artiste' sweetie...

    love ya Spesh xxx

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  5. Ah coming along nicely. Wanna real challenge? Pop over to http://www.thetenthdaughterofmemory.blogspot.com and have a crack. You can do it.

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  6. leah,
    thanks!
    that photo was a stand out

    published pete,
    thanks sweetie!

    baino,
    feel free to offer criticism as you would at 10th DOM, i've read some of that stuff, it's good. i can barely follow the rules there let alone compete!

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  7. Wonderful writing, very atmospheric. I feel I'm right there in the train carriage with him. I wonder if the nondescript waitress will be on the train again next time?

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  8. hey nick!
    thanks, feel free to offer criticism (i'll talk to you again someday...)

    do you think she will be on the train?

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  9. Arcadia is between Galston and Fiddletown in the Shire of Hornsby.

    Mystical writing Kylie. Excellent.

    Reminds me of waking up in the red rattler emerging from the City Circle headed toward Central Railway Platform 23.

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  10. Oh yes. And it won't be long before they're inseparable.

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  11. thanks megan!
    and happy st patricks day!

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  12. nick,
    you sound quite certain of that!

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  13. Wonderful my friend, wonderful. So many magical lines that seem to fit. Worth reading many times over to see what I might have missed...gardenias, the waitress..... Thank you for sharing.

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  14. ah! mike, now you understand ;)

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