Hello, yes you, you over there, yes I mean you, are you listening? Are you ready? Come closer, a little more, no that’s it. Are you here or is your mind wandering away? Take a minute, take a breath, this is important so I need you to focus. Snap my finger, hello? Yes good.
No you do not need a pen or paper. This is not that kind of a story. You only have to listen to every word I say. And listen well because I will not repeat it. Once it’s told, it’s done. Then the tale is yours for you to do as you please.
Shall we begin?
There once lived a boy who loved trains. He liked their movement. He liked the sounds they made. He liked the punctuality with which they came and went. Their predictability was soothing to him, an anchor when things went to hell at home. His was the only room with no windows in it but one tiny narrow rectangle. Through that rectangle he could see the trains. Some were bright red, some purple and white like candy and yet others there were blue, green and yellow. It felt like someone had used the colour box to paint them. They were the bright spots of colour in his otherwise grey life.
The boy who loved trains was but seven years old and did not understand very many things. He was slow in most things but in his love for trains he was steadfast. Then one night…
Hush, what was that? I told you not to interrupt me. Your questions are irrelevant. I am telling the story. Now hush and listen…that’s all you need to do…hush and listen…
One night the boy was at his window, staring out at the trains when a sudden thought, a thought as if on a breeze entered his mind – of running away, of packing up his school bag with his clothes, stealing the little money he knew his mother kept in the pink box in the kitchen and just leaving and never looking back. It would have surprised many to know that the boy who loved trains could think so lucidly when he needed to, when he chose to.
The trains…oh but the majestic trains with all their comings and goings surely they could save him from his dull life. Often he would plant himself at his window, his little piece of heaven and stare longingly at an escape that was so tantalizingly close and yet so far away.
Looked after by his mother, loathed by his father, the boy who loved trains was generally ignored by everyone he came in contact with. It was as if he was a wisp of memory making such a miniscule impression on their minds that when it entered and whence it exited they couldn’t rightly say. They were only left with a strange feeling that they should have noticed something but couldn’t think what.
Finally the boy got it into his head that he would leave. The same wind that had seeded the idea took the responsibility to give it sun and life and let it take root, to blossom, to seek the ever shining light. He started to pack. A little here, a little there…he was careful with what he stole. He may have been largely ignored by all but he knew theft wasn’t something his father would ignore. So he was careful. No one could have guessed that the boy who loved trains could have the cunning or the resources needed to do something like this but he was driven by a power no one could define. He only knew he needed to get out.
Finally the day came when he deemed it would be fit, fit for him to leave the dullness behind and join the ranks with the trains. Maybe he could join them? Oh how absolutely thrilling it would be for him to become one of them, a train indeed – oh what he wouldn’t give to have that become a reality!
Yes you may laugh but the boy was a little slow after all and he did not know that he couldn’t just turn into a train. He had to go through the proper channels if he wanted that wish fulfilled. And so when he left the house with his school bag fit to burst with everything he thought he would need for this journey, he was caught, caught by his unforgiving father and his indifferent mother.
The poor boy was dragged back home, given a lecture and a resounding slap for good measure and locked in his room to think about what he had done. The boy who loved trains could not understand the instruction and so he cried into his pillow like he had never before. He cried and soaked his pillow with all his salty tears. He cried for the loss of his beloved trains, he cried for he imagined he had lost his opportunity to join them but above all he cried because they had boarded up his window.
Yes there is more to the story but wait now I must attend to my dry throat. A glass of water should do the trick. Okay are you still listening or have you grown tired of the tale? It is an important tale I tell you and you must listen! If you don’t it will be lost forever for I will soon turn into a mute train because of the eons I have served and now I must tell the tale of the boy who loved trains and how he came to become one.
Originally published on Readomania as a contest entry.