The Train Ride

I gazed into the daunting emptiness. This was my future, this was what it had come to. What would Granny Meg say? I didn’t want to think about it. My steps were hefty on the snow leaving clear footprints behind. I felt as if I was leaving all my past behind, all those reminiscences, positive and negative. The frost was biting into my skin, I could feel my wet hair slowly turning into ice, the mist evolving itself in front of me for each breath I exhaled. The wind was static, nothing was moving, the bare trees stood frozen in front of the isolated houses like weak soldiers defending their already half destroyed fortress. At that moment I felt glad I was leaving this icy, emotionless landscape.

As I slowly paced myself to the train stop, a feeling of freedom came to my heart. I could sense the train arriving, a smile crept up on my face. I was going home! All those hours of work and suffering were worth it, I was certain of that now. Slowly the rails started trembling faster and I could hear them rattling as if in excitement. In the foggy distance I could distinguish two bright yellow lights. My smile had spread into a grin as I stared into the fiery lights. The snow divided itself hastily as the train arrived. The train was my rescuer ploughing through the dull colour of snow. I could feel its power through the gust of wind throwing me a wave of frozen daggers at my hands. I rubbed my hands together trying to warm my body up and waited till the doors unlocked. I breathed in heavily, smelling the aroma of coal and smoke, instantly reminding me of the stove at home. Suddenly, I started shaking violently, I was just realising to what extent this was going to affect me. I steadied my breath carefully, I had to act normally; if I was caught, that would be my life ruined.

I settled myself on the most comfortable seat in the train compartment and opened up my odd-looking newspaper. I wasn’t actually paying attention to the words working down the page, the couple sitting opposite me were much more remarkable. The man was a traditional  farmer with fur covered boots and coat, along with his scruffy, scrawny beard. He smoked a pipe and would breathe out slowly, the smoke reaching as far as my nose. I occasionally coughed for him to recognise how I highly disapproved of smoking and therefore detested the smell. He would occasionally glance at what looked like his wife and mutter a few words. On the other hand, she was a complete contrast to him. It was as if she had been plucked out of a bourgeois setting and shoved into a train next to someone she had never met before. Her dress was very long with botanic features. Her contemporary hat took up most of the space available, as she tried to knit with difficulty; it was clear she had never picked up a pair of needles before. They were an amusing couple and I enjoyed watching their constant fiddling.

I finally got tired of analysing them and turned my attention to the view. I sighed when I realised there was nothing to see in the gloomy scenery. The train was being swallowed up in a sea of darkness and discolouration, the wind whistling as if in search of someone. Possibly my someone.

“Do you get off here?” I woke with a jump. Bleary-eyed I looked at the scruffy man I had been scrutinising earlier. “Pardon me, I did not mean to alarm you.” He seemed disturbed and exhaled an especially big puff of smoke.

“Don’t worry, thank you for waking me up.” I coughed and slowly got up. Quickly I checked I was at the right station. I looked carefully and noticed how much the vista had cleared. I was able to see the tops of the trees and the place was bustling with life. This was what I had been dreaming of; I was now one step nearer to home and to my fiancé. I squinted at the bright sun, it felt good to finally be able to appreciate it. On the far side of a street I saw a sign with ‘Omsk’ written on it. This was definitely my homeland. I was surprised but relieved no one had asked for my papers yet. As I was getting out of the carriage, a ticket officer asked for my passport. I straightened up and looking confident handed him my fake passport in. He looked at it carefully. I could feel my heartbeat accelerating. This could not fail, I had got this passport from a professional. Seconds ticked by, I could feel myself sweating. The officer looked up.

“Could we have a word with you, please?” I started panicking and bit my lip. I was surprised to hear the peasant man again.

“Good luck, but I don’t think you’ll get yourself out of this one.”

I froze.