The Trains

Tonight before she shuts her eyes and goes to sleep, she will leave the window of her bedroom open as she does every night, so as to listen to the passing of the trains. Neither the smoke from the cigarettes of her neighbours, nor the noise of the sirens that make their way from the main road and into her lap could ever compare to the sound of the trains. Their lurch, the sound of metal upon metal, so distant and yet so suffusing… carrying people to the very ends of the world. She can see hills in the distance from her window, but she can never reach them. They disappear into everything once she steps outside: they can only ever exist when she stands here. It is here the trains pass; it is here her stomach turns to be.

She imagines that the trains take her somewhere else, somewhere over lakes of serene beauty- still, and purple. Through silent fields of such a pervading calm, darkly green and baleful, but beautiful and endless. The trains whistle past the tall evergreens which dance beneath the night sky… laced with stars that seem so close that they might hold hands, though never have they met. They stand still and lonely; the trees dance with silent fervour.

She imagines that the trains will take her to places she has seen, and places she has not. Towards cities to be made vulnerable and again strong, and to the countryside where she would dissolve beneath the snowflakes and into the cold, cold night. To live forever in the streams and rivers, giving her life unto life. She would ride the trains to wherever they would take her, to somewhere else, beyond the walls of her mind.

But still tonight she lies in her bed, her belly starved of quiet and a cooling of her blood. She never leaves, but the knowledge that the trains exist upon the hills beyond her window leads her to the very edge of her own consciousness… and lets her fall, slowly, into the clouds of synthesis and toxin beneath. At once she is asleep, belonging now to the state of something, until again she wakes once more. The cool night air finds its path through her window, and into her room, and rests upon her skin. But nothing compares to the sounds of the trains.

20 thoughts on “The Trains

  1. First, I love the reference to sleep as the “state of something” when everyone else describes it as drifting off to nothing or whatever. It is SO something!

    When I was little, we lived a while next to the New York City subway rail. A very different set of sounds – the high-pitched squeal of the many wheels as the brakes whined into the nearby station, and the rattling and clacking shaking the walls of our little apartment like an angry ghost – would lull me to sleep at night. The subways make a unique sound that’s similar to running your wet finger on the edge of crystal, except it’s more of a haunting howl, as ugly as the soot from the city. That howling lullaby used to carry me away from Daddy’s cigarette smoke with each train as I drifted off, not over hills, but down dark tunnels that led into the bowels of the earth somewhere, past strobes of eerie incandescence that hypnotize.

    You totally took me back.

    I like your trains better. :)


    1. That sounds absolutely beautiful. It’s sounds like this that send me to sleep; things I seem to have heard my entire life. It’s just not right without them.


  2. I loved this. Effective, inviting, dreamy prose.

    I suffer from trainstalgia. We used to have them when I was a child, and now they are rather rare here. You reminded me of my favorite ride ever, up to the Veil of Rheidol on a small-gauge steam train from Aberystwyth.


  3. As always I loved it. I love this part.
    ” The trains whistle past the tall evergreens which dance beneath the night sky… laced with stars that seem so close that they might hold hands, though never have they met.”

    This work meant escape for me. I have trains running close by, and now when I hear then, I close my eyes, and stary imagining.


    1. I haven’t heard of Dennis Lehane, so you’ve prompted me to check him out. Thanks for the comment! ;)


  4. Romantic prose like mad/ to imagine and long for everywhere Else
    the great escape
    you have it right, right close to yr Dreamland, in bed at night
    I loved the latenight call from faraway trains when i was a kid
    I still love the dreams there/ thanx so


  5. Anna wonderful story ,even though where i live trains are not in a condition to talk about its still great to read and imagine how they are in other countries….A wonderful piece , i have become a fan:)


  6. I remember when I was hit by a train, the screams still haunt me to this day, it came at me, 100s of miles an hour, I stepped out onto the track. Boom. Pieces of train everywhere, the curse of being such an ‘Ard bastard.

    Amazing writing as always :)


    1. That’ll teach the train driver for thinking his metal, several-tonned, electric-powered vehicle was stronger than you! Let this be a lesson to all train drivers.


  7. Wow… First of all, I absolutely love Trains. Where I lived four months ago, and for six months before that, I could hear Trains once in a while, and I just stopped in my tracks and listened. I loved it. This is a tremendously beautiful, and explorative story. If I’m using that word correctly. You absolutely whisked me away, I felt my eyes want to close, and my feet lift off the ground. You’ve taken your ability to take the reader somewhere far from where they are, and in this case transport them to somewhere so beautiful, and illuminatingly alive. Perhaps I will live somewhere again someday where I can go to sleep to the sound of a passing train… I surely loved it. “laced with stars that seem so close that they might hold hands, though never have they met.” I just love that. Thank you Anna.



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