Summary: He left her letters on the rail tracks. And he waits for them to burst free one last time as the incoming train proceeds. (Two-Part Story)
Inspired by the excerpt of the poem below.
You Who Never Arrived
You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house-- , and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,--
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and,
startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening...
Rainer Maria Rilke
The stationary weighs a thousand pounds in my pocket. I bury my left hand inside and clutch the paper tightly, and I feel the remnants of her handwriting burn my skin.
I memorize every word written there, every sentence, every scratch mark made by her carelessness. There is a torn edge on its upper right portion. I memorize the slightly crooked letter "T" each time she writes my name. I've opened and closed it so many times that it has left white fold marks everywhere—crumpled, almost indiscernible words now.
Where I am standing, I care less to know. My stomach feels twisted, and my chest is heavy. But I am here, and I cannot turn back anymore.
Slowly, like an old man, I pull out that very first letter she sent to me from the safety of my pocket. I look at it one last time—just one last, long look—before I place it together with her other letters. I've arranged them into a pile on the ground.
I am crouched low, alone in the cold spring afternoon, as I continue to look at her letters with silent heaviness. They lie quietly between two rail tracks, snugly holding onto each other for dear life. After all, they all came from one person. Perhaps that is what brings us together; my being unable to detach from these inanimate objects because they are the last remaining link to her. To that other life.
It always amazes me as I equate this fairly thick pile of letters to my own life. They have been there, the witnesses to my demise. And yet, they were the reasons why I grew into the man I am.
But today… today I would have to let them go. All those years of seamlessly waiting for her.
I stroke the green stationary with my finger—in affection, perhaps. In goodbye, more so. And I stand up like the man I should be, ignore the fact that I've left my heart in between these two rail tracks, and take my place behind the safety bars.
The sky is letting out a low rumble. The sound shakes the ground a little, and I think that today wouldn't be any more fitting for release if the rain didn't come. So I wait. I wait patiently… Years of waiting, of searching, has made me exceedingly patient. One…maybe two hours pass before those cold rain drops start to pour down.
But I still stand and wait, just watching the letters she sent me get drenched in the downpour. If someone asked me if this were to happen a year ago, I would say I'd go and shield those letters with my life. But now, I am strong enough to watch them perish as nature had planned long ago. It was only I who kept opposing, for fate had to be my enemy. And any right-minded person would know that fighting with fate is a battle lost from the start.
It takes another hour before the warning alarms start to signal the coming of a train. It has gotten quite dark, so the pieces of paper all just look like white smudges on a black canvas. But now… now it will only be a matter of time.
The safety bars have started to fall into place, blocking the intersection of the rail path from the main road. I take a step back, realizing for the first time how extremely wet I've become from the rain. But I am past exhaustion, past vanity, past all care to think about myself as I could see the soft flickering headlights of the incoming train.
For a fleeting moment—like a quiet whisper—my muscles tense in readiness to grab and save the link that might lead me back to her one day. But I suppress it. I hold it in, and force myself to watch as the speeding train comes into full view.
The papers literally burst from the ground and explode into shreds and pieces. Even in the dark, I had never seen something so beautiful that I cry out her name one last time against the loud passage of the train, against the pounding of the rain, against time that I've found and lost so soon.
Then I disappear and take flight on the remnants of my life, towards a place far from all the shattered letters and the lies and the broken promises of my youth.
I run. And I run, headed nowhere, wanting nothing but to forget.