Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sad Young Man on a Train

Man was lonely, he started smoking.
So God put him on a train.
On the platform, Man waited.
Woman came down the concrete steps.
God gave Man words, so he could tell Woman that she was indescribable.
Man stood alone in the moving dark. If he had wished to, he could have lifted his gaze from the floor to the window and watched the young creation rushing past. Instead, with his head still bowed he raised a cigarette to his lips and inhaled.
Man exhaled, and the train jolted. The off-white cloud expanded. The young Sun yellowed it as it tried to find an open window to escape. There was none, so the rusty fog hung stale in the air, collecting yellow. If he had wished to, Man could have watched the sun perform tricks for him through the window. He might have seen the full perfection of Gods work, the composition of unshaven hills and soundless waters embellished blue.
Instead, Man watched his cigarette ash fall to the floor, grey joining brown.

He raised his eyes slightly to watch his next foggy breath break away from his lips, grazing them as it passed. The off-white cloud expanded.
Was it carefree or laborious? Either, neither, whichever, whatever.

If he had wished to, Man might have used his young mind to grapple several problems. God had left them lying around, deliberately unanswered to give Man something to think about. Man was being moved without moving. God thought he’d enjoy that one.

Cigarette to lips, breathe in, breathe out. Off-white cloud expanding. Limbs swing as balance trips from one foot to the next, and back again. You’d think God would have laid straight tracks.
With a mouth full of stale ochre Man flirted with the second puzzle, unsuccessfully.
The empty carriage was filling with smoke, crowding him. Not enough. He could extend his fingertips and connect with the window sill. Cold.
He could lift his eyes to the rushing mountains, sky and sun.
His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth, awkward and unsubtle. The sun only warms his limbs.
Something should be there, on the tip of his tongue, that wasn’t.
His lips twitched and he lit another fag.
The train slowed to a halt. Man stepped forward and opened the carriage door. The accumulation of off-white clouds ambled out, the sky was a passive smoker who never coughed.
Man remained motionless and looked at the new world through the open door. The initial reaction hadn’t worn off, as the sun died again on the horizon.
It bled orange into the sky and baptized him in terracotta.

He had arrived at an unfamiliar place, made of sharp lines and frigid grey. It didn’t look like God’s handiwork, but the decaying sun redeemed it. Man stepped lightly down of the train, curiosity getting the better of him. He walked the length of the platform,
hating the even surface beneath his feet.
After a time he sat down on the surface and lit another cigarette. Before him was a flight of stairs, made of the same harsh grey. He could not see where they lead to, as the top was in shadow beneath the thin roof. Man felt he should not ascend, but wait.
God never kept him in the dark too long.

He was looking down the length of the platform, peering into the becoming dark when he heard the first slap of flesh on the top stair. He looked up and was confused, then frightened, then undone. He waited. A second slap followed smoothly after, and he was sure. It was a foot, now feet. Smaller and younger than his, unhardened by rough surfaces. Toe by toe they came down.

Then Man saw ankles, slender, pale. Knees and thighs, white stones blushing. Hips came slowly out of the shadows and man stopped breathing. His cigarette flared up in the cold. Man saw a marble-pink waist, then breasts, then shoulders honey-glazed with long hair.
Only the cigarette was breathing.
Woman leaned her head down and peaked at the figure below her.
She looked out from behind her hair...
and it was good.

Man stood up, clumsily, enraptured. Woman reached the last step and stopped.
The final light of the sixth day powdered her skin a final shade of peach.
Then Man asked God for words.

'Words will come, Beloved. First, take her hand and lead her to the grass.'

1 comment:

  1. Amazing piece - as a representation of how the first man would act upon seeing the first woman, I'd say it was quite likely close to the truth - I know that I stopped breathing from the moment her footsteps sounded, and had tears in my eyes by the end.
    I like the almost science fiction idea that God had placed a train to transport Adam from his corner of Eden to Eve's, and that Adam was so bored without the female gender that he invented smoking to have something to keep his mind off it (to clarify, I'm not taking this literally).
    The way in which Man ignores the splendour and beauty of creation is a wonderful mirror to our own attitude to nature, and the comment that the station "didn’t look like God’s handiwork" is to me an intriguing echo of the (I believe) false claim that man-made objects are somehow unnatural.
    I look forward to more updates!