171

A short story I wrote while riding on the train on the 1st of January. Inspired by the train traveling across water in Spirited Away.

171
The night is cold, crisp with snow as the train races along the tracks, 200 or so kilometers per hour. From seat number five she sees the tables in front of her, with their half-black knobs that turn clockwise to let go, like miniature wipers sweeping across the windshield of a car that has been unfortunate enough to have its windows decorated with gray spray paint. In seat eleven a man’s coat is hanging from the hidden coat hanger, the buttons at the left side of the collar coming across as three eyes with big black pupils and irises of dirty steel. She flinches. It’s as though the three buttons are making note of everything happening on the train. They look like camera lenses.
The supposedly hygienic papers stuck over the cushions on the top of the empty seats sway from the multi-temperature air blowing across the inside of the train, cold at one time and hot at another.  She sometimes thinks of the train driving across the sea, its tracks made of something floatable as though it were an electromagnetic messiah walking on water with its metallic, toeless feet. She can almost imagine the water seeping through the cracks of the doors, sloshing across the floor in a relatively smooth rhythm, tiny waves each time the train reaches a station.
It makes her lips curl into a crooked smile as the train slows down now, stopping for maintenance. She lets her eyes close as she envisages the cold slur of water crowding the spaces between her toes, making her socks sticky clumps of fabric, her shoes soggy like wet paper towels. The makeshift feeling makes her serene, content.
She opens her eyes to find the three eyes turned away. The man in the seat has switched position and so has the coat, just a bunch of black cotton and polyester hanging blandly on the hook. The screens in the ceiling show the number 171 at the top right corner.

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