Homeward Bound

The sun slinks away across the fields, the soft faded glow trailing in its wake as the hills become mountains again.

He is heading home.

As the train rattles and rushes onwards a solitary face stares past the reflections to the distant hills. The remnants of daylight pick out a cottage on the hillside, lights flickering inside, idyllic, remote, and surreal. Too picture perfect to exist, he must have imagined it.

Past fields of livestock, sheep glow in the sunset, pools of water emit an eerie glow, now is the time of spirits and stories. He pictures the scene, farmers, warriors or travellers, huddled around the fire sharing tales of mysterious times. The wind whipping round them, ashes and sparks swirling above them as they weave their stories, embellishing wildly, bringing monsters to life.

He ponders the story tellers of today, sitting huddled to tell their tales, the glow of fire long gone but bathed in light nonetheless. Are they worse for it? It is a folly regardless, all he wants is to get home.

He turns to the sunset, pale orange over silouhette, trees form the backdrop, wayang golek that is missing the rod puppets.

Headlights dip and roll on a remote road, blazing signs into view, breaking the gloom. They don’t last long and soon the dark descends further. Items are lost in the dark, towns only exist in streetlight, points of orange on black.

The last wisps of dusk wink out leaving the train as the only energy, moving at a blur, pulling stations from nowhere before discarding them to darkness once more. And then the false dawn begins, the dull glow of sodium and neon bouncing to the heavens to mark the city. Faster, he thinks, faster, almost there, almost home.

Flashes of pale white light pick out hillsides and roads, villages and towns but soon even they vanish as the clouds swallow the moon.

Can’t be long now? Can’t be far from home.

He is always the same, enjoying the journey until it is almost at an end, then willing, wishing and dreaming it was over. Anxiously and silently urging the movement on, hoping others are doing the same. The power of the mind, can we will the train home? Closing his eyes to draw the lights closer, he is almost there.

The final rattle, the lurch as momentum is lost and a new light enters the carriage.

So close now. Almost home.