I can hardly come up with a more annoying thing than riding to aunt Chevy’s place on a train that keeps producing tiresome noise on a sunny day, especially after such a terrible week.
All the way I just stared outside the window, trying to look cool. I didn’t want to get involved with talkative women and listen to them complaining about the rainy weather of last month or a neighbor’s quirk of walking a dog in the middle of the night. I mean, I already suffered a lot.
Mother’s call arrived early in the morning, early enough that I just put the DVD into the player and hardly had time to open the pocket of chips. She said a lot, essentially letting me know I had to go to aunt Chevy’s for a birthday party on behalf of our family for she was busy herself.
Well then. I put on my jacket, grabbed my backpack, and then shut the door. Who knows what problem is with that woman? A woman of her fifties still holds a birthday party every year like a child at kindergarten. I dropped by the store at the corner of the street and returned the DVD I had never watched when I made my way to the bus stop.
On the other hand, there is something good about this trip. Firstly, I was not annoyed a little bit for the last three hours, except a young mom asked me if I knew somewhere she could get the baby some milk on the train, and I politely told her that she needed to wait until there was a station. Secondly, a pretty girl was sitting right to me; the man with a strong smoke odor may exit at the station before. Besides, it’s only about half an hour that I could see the rusty train station of aunt Chevy’s town, if I didn’t get the time table wrong.
The girl sitting across was rather beautiful, or compelling. However, I felt a sense of vague sadness. At some point, I thought I could have such a girl of my own. I swore, if Claudia accepted to be with me, I’d hold her little hands and take her to ramble along the stream behind the school. We might simply count the stars on the sky or hear the songs of fish, yes, fish can sing as a bird, but you would never recognize it until you’re careful enough. No other person in the school discovered the idyllic paradise except me. So I liked to stay in the place of my own, as I called it, in every lonely night and throw vows to the wishing stars. I used to think that the stars would bring good luck: think about it, you’re facing the lights from millions of years ago and from somewhere we would never touch; things gonna die, while starlight could perpetuate.
The first time when I saw Claudia was at the school’s opening ceremony, I told myself with certainty that I liked her. I tried to figure out how could her shake her long shiny hair inadvertently like a peri from fairytales, and her spot in the classroom always was lingered with a slight fragrance of flowers. What’s more, it seemed that our hearts had a common beat. Every time when I cast a furtive glance at her in class, I could felt our eyes met and I looked directly into her blur pupils. Maybe it’s all just the illusions in my brain or just because her eyes are too intriguing.
On the weekend after the mid-term exam, I went back to school to fetch the homework that I forgot. The school was supposed to be empty on that day, however, I see Claudia that day. Her bicycle was broken, and she looked helpless standing in front of the school’s gateway. I guessed it’s my lucky day.
We talked a lot on the way to her home as I carried her broken bicycle. She smiled as she never was as happy and she burst in silvery laughter at times. After back home that day, I found I forgot to get my homework.
A day later we came back to school. I found a purple paper crane in my drawer with a heart-shaped paper card on it. In the math class I was punished to stand for not doing my school sheets but it didn’t bother me at all. Claudia sat two lines before me, and I saw her belt the same paper crane on her collar when she smiled at me.
Next? I felt like living in dreams for few weeks. I no longer chat about the football games last Saturdays and the concerts the day before with my friends. I spent every second to study hard, doing all kinds of practices. Every morning I would check into the mirror to make sure I looked fine. I knew that the princess always needs a knight to match, and I was no more than any normal guy randomly chosen from a random crowd.
My enthusiasm was not replaced with disillusion till the day before yesterday. Claudia went to the dining hall with Greg during the lunch time, holding his hand firmly, with a different blue paper crane on her collar. Greg was the big guy sitting at the back of the classroom, with the athlete-like figure. They looked so matched in couple and Claudia laughed so innocent as usual.
A lesson learned: people always keep lying to themselves. When you find something too good to happen, then you do have been day dreaming. Remember, life is no more than a compile of tragedies.
I took the pupil paper crane out of my pocket. For no reason should I keep it but I do. I slowly placed it on the table and straightened its wings carefully. I could stare at its eyes. Claudia painted eyes on them thoughtfully; however, they seemed a little lifeless right now.
The girl across the table watched the scene outside attentively; maybe she didn’t want to get disturbed either. But this way I was able to size her up without being noticed. The snow-white hair made her look rather unique. Normally people with white hair can be tagged as “sickly” or “weird”; but you definitely wouldn’t use such words to describe this girl. She played the fringes of her jacket absent-mindedly, which tightly wrapped the red-striped sweater inside. Her eyes seemed a little sleepy, probably because the scene outside hadn’t changed even a bit over hours, boundless field with few clouds up in the sky.
What kind of person she might be? She had no chance to be the person live limited to the daily schedule, going to bed right after finishing the homework. She might have some sweeties waiting for her in her yard till late in the night so they can hang out and drink a little; she could have lists of boys trying everything to put a rose into her locker. It’s possible that she sit beside a stream listening to the song of fish; but during the lunchtime she may tear the letter from boys with a smile as well.
She took out a sand clock from the bag; I said she was so different: there aren’t many people go traveling with a sand clock these days. The bottoms of the sand clock were made of wood, and it looked like old enough about my grandma’s age. The girl turned the sand clock upside down, and the sand began to leak down steadily. The crystal blue sand had the same color of the girl’s pupils, creating the illusion that sand came directly from the girl’s eyes.
The girl watched expressionlessly as the sand went down. I had to say the sand leaked down at a real slow speed, but the girl seemed never bored. Suddenly, I felt an unreasoning sense that the girl may be as solitary as I do, possibly after a similar terrible week.
I could talk to her, I thought, or maybe I could miss something. I had never been an outgoing person who could easily drop into a conversation with someone never known before. It’s always amazing to me that two unfamiliar persons can talk happily at the first meeting. I guess I’m a little social awkward.
The sand leaked on, seemingly counting for my hesitation. Well, I decided to speak to the girl as soon as the sand ran up. I could greet her and ask her for the phone number. Then, if everything went perfectly, I might have a female friend that I could text to after going to bed. That way this week wouldn’t be as terrible as I once thought.
The sand leaked even slower, and it seemed to stay still when there was about one fifth of sand remained. The girl was still watching it with the emotionless face, showing no surprise.
The broadcast rang up and reminded me I arrived. I got up from my place to get the backpack on the luggage rack. Sedentary for too long, I staggered a little and didn’t catch the bag firm. The backpack hit the table hard with a loud sound.
“It’s all right.” The girl’s voice was peaceful, but sounded beautiful. Anyway, it could count as a talk. There was no time for me to think in trance; I hurried off the train.
The sun shined brightly on the platform. I unexpectedly found that the old, rusty station had been painted brand new. The smell of lacquer permeated in the air mixed with the smell of the grass. The bell had rung for three times, and I watched as the train went away.
I felt like chasing after it, but I knew I would never catch up with it, and was not going to make my steps.