Saturday, 30 October 2010

Trains are time machines.

Suddenly we’re flying over the sea. The waves rush past around and below me. The boats on the water list. Side to side. Side to side. Broken hulls and rusting makings. Rotting cloth and sodden wood. But I am moving, speeding past them in my own box of warmth. The spray smashes up against the rocks that we sometimes pass, and the droplets of water tremble against the window before they disappear into the past. The glass separating me from the world is thick and heavy. It blocks out the sound and separates me from the outside, so that it feels like I am watching a screen replying a silent scene of grey waves and wheeling gulls, rather than moving through the reality.
But then, it has to be thick, otherwise the tremors and vibrations that come from time travel would shatter them and I would be sucked into the black hole that is the movement of time. We pass through the quick succession of tunnels, and although I can see nothing but blackness through the glass, I can feel the shifts as if they are drawn out upon the walls of my carriage. As we break free from the tunnel, the ripples from the pressure of our travel and the speed of our arrival distort my vision so that I blink and flutter in the bright light.
And I can tell that we’ve travelled in time, because suddenly the sea is red brown, the foam on the wave crests a dull fawn colour. And there are children. In pairs, or held tight by their parents, along the sea front, and they blur past me. We pull to a stop in a station of heavy stones and grey slabs. The Darlish conductor’s hair is carefully combed into place. His navy blue waistcoat, with its big buttons of gold, is secured over a shirt as crisp and white as new snow. Even though we’ve stopped, it feels as though we’re still moving; slowly, slightly, inching backwards. A side effect of time travel. The well turned-out conductor waves his hand and blows his whistle and we move off, but this time slower than before.
The tunnel this time is long. The rumble vibrates through the carriage. I stare at my face reflected on the window surface, and wonder at the red of my lipstick, and why my face does not grow older as we move through the time hole. Then we emerge into sunlight, and the stunted, bent, twisted trees with their dark green foliage and short branches, and the grey block buildings and walls speak of an era re-found. We shudder to a halt.

No comments:

Post a Comment