The Next Stop

British Rail

Before saying, I love you, our eyes held their gaze with visible hunger. After, I watched him lower his to inventory the lines on the palms of his immense hands. As the seconds mounted, I listened to the wall of silence going up around us. It drowned out the crowded bar room buzz of the happy hour crowd.

He placed one hand flat on the table’s surface, and with the other, he ran his fingers through his wiry pepper-colored hair. His eyes took flight and locked on something behind my left shoulder. I turned to accompany his eyes as they traveled the room. Their destination was the EXIT sign hanging over the door at the back of the bar. I broke the trance of the silence filling the two-foot gap separating us by clearing my throat.

My hands trembled and longed for the warmth of his skin, for our fingers to entwine, for his to squeeze mine letting me know love was an option. I wanted something beyond the previous weeks we had spent tangled in sheets. I willed his eyes to meet mine, prayed for a sign, for a smile of acceptance, but none came. His chocolate colored eyes returned to our table and locked on his left and right hands clasping the bottle of Heineken as his slender fingers picked at the label. I pulled my trembling hands from the surface, slid each under it’s own thigh, and held them hostage in the warmth between my leg and the faux red leather cushion

He stopped shredding the bottle’s label long enough to pull out his wallet. He dropped money on the table to cover the cost of our bar bill and then slid his lanky torso off the stool. He stepped forward, stopping at my side long enough to bend over and kiss me gently on my right cheek. A goodbye kiss lacks the hunger of hello. His lips lingered on my cheek as if he was considering the option but in the end, he left me alone at the table. In seconds, the happy hour noise broke down the wall of silence created by three benign words that once stitched together, become deathly poisonous between unexpected lovers.

 

The Euro Rail Pass cost €933.00 and travels through 21 countries for 3 continuous months. Maybe somewhere, over the next three months while I am crossing a border into one of these countries I’ll make peace within and my thoughts will be my own. This is the fourth day on the train journey and those thoughts I am looking forward to reclaiming remain elusive.  Fat juicy thoughts once worthy of writing, even discussing, have halted production.  Now it’s frozen images of me and that moment, the moment, I first whispered three insignificant words across a table to the only man I ever loved.

How did I get to this age and have not learned love is devastatingly painful, that it can change the color of the sky, the taste of food, the smell of roses, and the pace of my stride? Until him, I lived inside of my head. I had my books, the music I never was whole without, my family—close but not too—and the strength to take life on my own terms. I left love to the poets and writers because it never took my fancy or breath.    A part of me understood I should be looking for it, but having seen the women in my life double over in pain or lying face down in polyester filled pillows for months on end only surfacing with puffed and blood shot eyes, I opted to leave the need unexplored. Love looked dicey.

Now I am on a train going somewhere.  The old man at the kiosk, where I stopped today to buy a bottle of water, some chocolate, and a blank journal, asked me if I was a writer, a photographer, or simply running from love.   What an odd question I thought when he asked, but now that I am making notes to myself in this journal, I think maybe he’s seen his share of people running from heartache. It’s in my eyes, the look of loss.  It’s hardly detectable, unless you’re a hundred year old man who has spent his life at train terminals selling blank journals.

 

“Get this one,” he told me, “It has more pages than the one you picked out.  You’ll have lots of time to write.”  His yellow teeth from too many hand-rolled cigarettes flashed warmth.

 

I don’t think I misread the situation, or my lover.  I have to believe he was worth this crushing feeling. I tell myself that just maybe at the end of three continuous months of travel under a heavy blanket of clouds and through twenty-one countries, I might find some peace. Until then, I’ll assume the identity of a writer on holiday taking pictures and making notes in a journal.

 

Life is about options.

If you have the time, tell me where you would take the story of, that’s another thing, what are their names.

I read an article on the HP site, today – about the need for men’s fiction, and how there isn’t any. After reading, I thought t I’d like to pretend I was George Eliot, write a story for men, and send along to Esquire.

I’m looking for a co-author interested in writing the man’s side of the story, to go the distance, to submit. My story – is a woman’s POV.  Interested?

Or simply share your ideas about what comes next.

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by

I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

36 thoughts on “The Next Stop

  1. Oh my, I wish I was a man. (I never say that). Your piece is gorgeous. Loved every sentence! There names are Catherine and Alfonso. He is conflicted over a life he thought he was destined for. Disconcerted by the feeling bubbling up in him, feeling a bit out of control over his emotions, he runs. But love gets under our skin and is definitely under his. There will be another chapter.

  2. Brenda, I very well may be your biggest fan. I wish I wasn’t swamped with edits for clients right now or I’d take you up on that story. I wrote my MG series from the male perspective and my agent tells me I right males well in my YA (even though they are told from the female POV). I’ve always had a lot of male friends, so I think that helps.
    Kelly Hashway recently posted….DisconnectedMy Profile

    • Kelly, that is a wonderful think to say, my heart is overjoyed. No worries, I am working on different avenues in my head now. I promise you’ll see it eventually for your masterful editing touches. You are going to too famous come January. I’ll have to find a new editor, which I doubt will be possible.

  3. Andrea

    “A goodbye kiss lacks the hunger of hello.” Love this line!

    Loved the old man at the kiosk…that’s what prompted me to your site from She Writes!

    • Hi Andrea – you know goodbye kisses are lack luster. I kind of like the idea of the old man, he sets her straight. Thanks much for visiting.

  4. Marilyn

    Boy would I love to do this! Unfortunately I’m over committed and Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up. I wish you had written this at the end of June!

    • No worries, Marilyn, I was working on the story in my head on the train journey in this morning. I’ve a few avenues to take it, not sure yet. So glad you stopped by. Best, with all that nanoing.

  5. k~

    I would love to do it Brenda. Writing with you would be fun to do, and in a male voice would challenge me to stay true to the character.

    My favorite line in this: “A goodbye kiss lacks the hunger of hello.”

    Do you have a character profile for him in your mind? On paper? What kind of POV are you looking at to incorporate the two, with two writers?

    Yes, I am curious.
    k~ recently posted….Lillie: Enter the Darkness~ (100 Word Song)My Profile

    • Martha, there are more heartbreaking moments, like realizing your partner has fallen out of love and stays with you out of habit (also something to explore in another story line) but you’re right on this one. Not sure where I am going with this one yet.. Need to go for a walk.

    • Jennifer – It’s not my story but after writing it I have a sudden urge to buy a Euro rail pass and travel across Europe. I might need to invest heavily in lottery tickets today.

  6. OH how could he leave you…..booooooo . I just re read everyone elses comments..truly thought this was real..you have a gift.

    Sounds like a great challenge and you are “up” to it..in a male kind of way..hehe i still can see the man with the yellow teeth!!!!!!!

    • Hey Brenda (seems weird writing to myself), not mine, but I sort of want to be on that train. I really do, what a way to spend the summer. I like that old guy. Think about it, you know you’ve see him before somewhere in your lifetime.

    • Isn’t it thought, Monica? I am cursing the universe for not giving me the winning lottery ticket so I might take off for the summer and ride a train around Europe. I wonder if I could sell my kids on Ebay? :-)

    • Hi Robert!! Thanks for stopping by. I am not sure yet – I am still pondering if I start telling the story as she stops in different cities, and I’ve had the idea of introducing another character along the way… You story songs intriguing. Curious about the plot line? Is it creative non-fiction? Will bop over and visit your site.

  7. “It’s in my eyes, the look of loss. It’s hardly detectable, unless you’re a hundred year old man who has spent his life at train terminals selling blank journals.” Anyone who has experienced that loss would read it in the eyes too.
    I loved the story. I think on that same train a wise and kind man is running away from his memories. He lost his young wife 10 years ago, and thinks it’s finally time to find a new love, And they met….
    Nikky44 recently posted….I Miss You :(My Profile

    • Nikky, I quite like the idea of the an old guy being on the train as well. I’ve not yet figured it all out yet. I love the first fog of a story. For me it’s all there in the haze, bits and pieces floating around but nothing is clear until I land on the character’s name, after, the fog starts to lift.

  8. My goodness, you had me holding my breath over my coffee this morning! What an intensely beautiful piece of writing, what a glorious story! I am of the opinion that no-one should write this story but you – this is your baby, and it’s a beautiful one. No-one else thinks or processes like you do, and I love, love, love what I read here. I tend to be a purist, but these are just my thoughts.

  9. Poignant and heart-wrenching.
    Are you sure you need a co-writer? I know you’re still toying the fog of the story. You’re a superb writer… Take a couple of chapter ideas and play with him in the man’s POV.
    P.S. I had that EuroRail pass back in ’89! Same man sat next to me for all of it! We kept a journal too :)
    Astra recently posted….Earth: The Pinhead of the Universe. Making me … what?My Profile

    • I’m not sure, Astra. I’ve had a wonderful suggest to proceed with a partner on this particular story, but knowing how stories go, I suspect we will find a different story altogether and this one will go forward on it’s own. I am terribly jealous you had that pass. I so wish for one now. I have the strongest desire to hit the road.

  10. Brenda, their names are Alberto and Sofia. Sofia boards the train, destination Rome. The ten or so hours that it takes her to reach her destination provide for writing entries into her journal that detail how Alberto and she met. They will reveal her innermost feelings and desires, as well as question why Alberto wasn’t brave enough to declare his love. In the meantime, readers will discover what caused Alberto’s hesistancy. And they will be shocked when he reveals the secret that prevented him from whispering those three beautiful words to Sofia. Boarding a train the next day, Alberto will take us on a journey, but not one to find Sofia. Instead, one that will allow him to finally achieve his freedom. Only then will he be free to look for the love of his life.
    What do you think? I’m loving this story! :)

      • Oh yes, Mistress Bella. If you knew how many times I started typing a response you’d laugh. It’s been a couple of maddening weeks for me and I am SO behind on my life. Do you ever feel as if your life was watching you from the sidelines? That was me the entire month of May. Bare with me while I catch my breath and find the ground beneath my feet.

  11. I am sure many of us felt so connected with this touching story. I am sure Alfonso feels the same deep love but he is committed to his duties and cannot turn his back on them. He is a married who cannot abandon his family. Oh I dont know Brenda you are such an engaging story teller, you will come up with something unique and different.
    rimly recently posted….A Friday MomentMy Profile

    • Hi Rimly, it’s a story in the back of my head that remains elusive. I am drawn more towards her traveling forward and experiencing life, maybe an adventure or several. Hmmm, I like that idea. As for Mr. X, possibly Alfonso, not sure yet… or maybe I do! :-)

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