Lonely Planet

There’s a train that’s stopped moving, in the middle of Hokkaido, in the middle of the night, in the middle of winter. The sound of a thousand snores, a thousand sleepy sighs. The rumble of a passing train. The one the driver’s waiting for.

There’s a train that’s stopped moving but any minute now it’ll tug at its carriages, jerk into motion, shudder into being. No one wakes up. The girl in the smoking area crouches over the table, asleep, a full ashtray next to her head. Icy wastes.

There’s a train going through a tunnel that never ends and the farther it travels the harder it is to reach, to hear. The lights are all still on but the air in the carriages is full of bubbles. How to remain forever frozen, underwater, beyond the steamed glass, a community of future humans with gills staring at the train.

There’s a train with no passengers waiting at icebound Tappi-Kaitei-eki, cartoon characters on its sides, ice crawling towards its doors. Somewhere a bell rings and cracks the silence but the train remains motionless, misunderstood.

There’s a train running late but no one even seems to care or hear it coming. A flag is raised, a finger pointed, an information display adjusted, blips. Crowds line up to see it pulling into the phantom station. Craning. Breathing.

There’s a train arriving every heartbeat, its contents spilling out onto platforms and into elevators, down escalators and through turnstiles. Twelve hours ago this train was not moving. But I breathed, somehow, through the pitch and dark.


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