“Train Man, the computer nerd who shook with fear at the thought of calling a girl had transformed in two months.”

(from Nakano Hitori’s “Train Man,” p. 277)

Those who wanted to play the game were already in line. Some of them enjoyed the mini-performance of a kid who was passionately swinging his drumsticks as he played. Others walked away and played some other games in the vicinity.

Six credits. The drumming rhythm game had six token credits currently stored. That meant around half an hour of waiting time. Well, he knew that’s how it went during Sundays and he came prepared for it. He opened his small, brown messenger bag and took out a novel entitled “Train Man” by Nakano Hitori. Holding on to the book with his left hand, he used his right thumb to quickly breeze through the pages and then took out a small paper; a receipt dated back to January 11.

He read intently, not minding anyone in the area. Before he knew it, a girl approached him and told him that it was his turn to play. Thanking the girl, he put back the book in his bag. He then took out a pair of black colored drumsticks and walked up to the said arcade machine.

“Select Your Music!”

Time flew.

Hours after his trip to the arcade, he turned another page of a book and scanned through its text. Letters and numbers filled his mind although he could not comprehend what he was reading. He tapped his pen on the desk, growing restless by the minute. His eyes had a fixed glare on the page until he finally turned away to look at the clock. The smaller hand of the watch pointed at 5. “Finally,” he said out loud with a gasp.

He set foot outside and took a deep breath. After a few seconds, he rode a bicycle and took off. His feet slowly pedaled as his hands stirred. The small vehicle gained momentum until he was already riding downhill as he explored his village; evading cars, road blocks, and dead ends. The winds hitting him as he went at top speed cooled his face. He pictured how the winds would make his previously long hair unruly, if he didn’t have a haircut. Imagination was his closest companion during his ride.

The uphill part of the ride was the real battle. He continued pedaling although he started to slow down. Eventually, he stopped by at the village park on his way back home. There, he did a little work out which included crunches, pull-ups, and push-ups. This was how he ended his biking sessions.

He just finished with his work out when the sun was already setting. He lay down on a nearby slide and looked up at the dimming sky. It was as if time slowed down at that exact moment when he just kept still and relaxed his body. He then began contemplating.

“That time I rode the train and went to faraway places with friends was exciting. We went to places we don’t usually go to and it allowed me to ease my mind after recent life-changing events. That trip was refreshing, yet I couldn’t help but feel like the train rides I took and the act of going far away from home symbolized me running away from my problems. I was afraid of changes in my life.

Then came those two months when I began experiencing those changes. They weren’t bad at all. In fact, this may very well be the best two months I have experienced in recent history. I have explored so much new things that I thought I would never experience. And now, I’m changing for good; slowly, but surely.

I guess I forgot that part where we all went home together. In the end, I did take that last train ride. I came back to embrace my life. I came home safe and sound.”

With that reflection in mind, he finally stood up and headed home.

“It’s time to say goodbye
I’m not afraid of you
I need to walk away
‘Cause I don’t wanna be a liar”

(knotlamp – LAST TRAIN)

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