As the train gathered speed, he suddenly remembered.
It came unexpectedly and paralyzed him, as if he had suddenly lost control over his own memories. The views outside the window were moving faster with every second, but he didn’t see them anymore. With eyes still fixed on the dirty pane, he sat frozen, half-consciously letting some old images flood his mind. Fascinating that it took only one little memory, carelessly let into consciousness, to cause the whole avalanche of forgotten details.
Her eyes were brown, with pigments of yellow in the setting sun. Her hands, always red and cold, used to cover her mouth while she was laughing: she never liked her teeth, so she barely ever let someone see them. Her small nose would hide into one of her numerous, colourful scarfs when she felt awkward or slightly ashamed: she loved them so much that she wore them even in summer. Her black, curly hair was always unkempt, because she believed in chaos, which had to be reflected also in her everyday appearance.
Up till now, he thought he had forgotten all those things. After all, it was ancient history: he got over it ages ago, and there was absolutely no reason for those memories to come back to him. At least none he could think of.
Then why did they come back? What was the trigger?
The trees outside the window melted into amorphous mass of green and brown, when he felt the sudden, senseless pang of guilt. Part of him knew he shouldn’t have been recalling her looks and charming habits, while the other part knew it wasn’t anything bad: remembering was not a crime. And why should he feel guilty about it anyway? It wasn’t like he still had some feelings for her. It was an ultimately closed chapter: everything was sorted, done with, finished. He knew how he felt, and he was positive about it: there was no room in his heart for her.
And yet, she kept coming back to him.
But why shouldn’t she? It seemed that, even though his heart was way past her, his mind still couldn’t let go of her. And that was okay. After all, why shouldn’t it be? She was part of his history; part of who he was and who he became; part of the unique experience he wouldn’t trade for the world. Because however complicated and painful that chapter of his life might have been, he knew it was worth remembering.
Besides, let’s face it: that was his thing. He liked to reminisce, to embrace the past, to relish what once happened to him. Obsessive sentimentality: that was the reason behind all of this.
“Excuse me” the kind, low voice pulled him out of the trance.
“Yes?” he looked up at the elder man in fashionable black suit and elegant hat.
“Would you mind if I sit here?” he asked, pointing at the seat next to his.
“Of course not, go ahead” he answered, smiling.
While the elder man was making himself comfortable next to him, his eyes came back to the moving world outside the window. And then he realized: it was the train. The trigger.
Because trains – unlike any other kind of vehicle – tend to somehow encourage your mind’s unexpected journeys into the unfathomed spheres of the mind and chapters in your life that you thought you had ultimately closed. Maybe it’s all about this specific, monotonous rhythm of travelling on railway. Or maybe it’s not. Anyhow, it just happens: you take off your coat, put your suitcase on the shelf above your seat, sit down, make yourself comfortable, then turn your eyes to the usually dirty window and your mind simply runs wild. Every time. Without any warning. It just starts to live on its own, and you’re no longer in control – you can only sit and watch as it takes you on a journey through the past.
And he liked those journeys. A lot.