• The Train •
I lost my notes, but it stuck to my mind •
• soundtrack: come over ~ carly paradis •
1948 ~ Soviet Russia
'You mustn't be afraid.' I woke to the voice of an older man, and only now that I opened my eyes, I realised why I had been so cold. Nothing but my dress, thin vest and shoes had been protecting me from the cold that was raging on as the train raced through the forest.
'Where are we going?' I asked the man that had spoken to me first. He didn't look like anybody who I had been trying to get away from on this train, but he looked like someone I should be getting away from.
The people in the crammed carriages looked like me. In their daily clothes, rushed out of their homes, with nothing to protect them from the cold. I still wore the dress that I had spent my christmas eve in. This man, however, wore a thick and furry black coat, outline with red seams and a warm hat that covered him down to his ears. His moustache hadn't caught any of the fallen snow yet, while my hair was kissed by the crystals, and my lips must've already turned purple. He was a man in charge, that was clear to me. Not only because of the yellow hammer and sickle embroiled onto his coat, but also of the way he presented himself towards me in a dominant and superior stance, looking down at me.
'Where do you think you are going?' I looked up to him, and then back to the trees that were passing us by. I was sitting on the outside step that connected two carriages. I just couldn't stand being in there anymore, close to so many people. Ill people, sleeping people, smelly people, loud people, crying babies. The cold was better than any of that, even though I might have frozen to death if this officer hadn't been here to wake me from my slumber.
I got up to my feet and grabbed the ice-cold steel railing, scared to fall down.
'I don't know. Somewhere cold.' Even though I didn't look at him, but at the falling snow, I knew he grinned.
'Yes, you are right about that.' Now, I turned around to him.
'Siberia?' He looked at me a bit surprised, and also a bit confused.
'You have been on this train a long time, haven't you?'
'Yes. But I've never encountered an officer like you.' He smiled at me.
'We like to keep warm inside the carriage. But I saw you sitting out here through the window, and I thought it would be better to go have a look. What are you doing out here?'
'I don't know,' I replied lightly. 'Why am I on this train?' He shrugged.
'Because you're you. You are who you are.'
'I don't fit into the system,' I confirmed. He nodded. 'None of us do,' I added.
'I do,' he replied.
'Yes, that's fairly easy for you,' I scoffed.
'Aren't we all equal?' he counteracted to that.
'According to your ideology, we're all equal until we're not. Until somebody doesn't agree, until they refuse to work for the system,' I muttered. It was silent for a while. 'I want to go home,' I then stated.
'You can't,' he replied.
'What if I jump?' I looked over the railing again.
'You'll freeze and die out here in the snow. In the middle of nowhere.' I turned back to him. I couldn't say I was concerned, but an itch somewhere deep in my core kept me trembly and restless, and it wasn't the cold. My expression however, could be nothing but curious, as well as indifferent to my future. Whatever my future did hold, it would not be in Moscow. That, I knew because the raging train through this snowy forest could be going nowhere but East, otherwise we would've passed cities, or at least villages or cabins.
'And if I don't, I will be brought to whatever place this train is going. Will I be executed?' He shrugged, giving me a question look with his eyebrows as well, but he seemed amused. Perhaps he knew, perhaps he wasn't sure, perhaps he would decide whether I was to live or not.
'Who is to decide over my fate?' This time, he sighed, as he let his hand slip inside his large coat, and got out a box of cigars, and a box of matches. Despite the outrageous wind, fortified by the train's movement, he had no trouble lighting one. After offering me a whiff, and my refusal, he decided to answer.
'You look like a fine, healthy young woman. You won't be killed when we get off the train, that I can assure you.' As the tree line opened up for a second, both of us looked ahead over the landscape that presented itself. No mountains, no lakes, no rivers. Just more and more forest, seemingly stretching itself out over the entirety of the world.
'A labor camp,' I concluded. 'Who is to decide over my fate?' He sighed lightly.
'You mustn't be afraid,' he repeated. 'If you wish to live, and if you wish to keep your hands clean, I'm sure the opportunity will come to you. Because you are a healthy, young woman blessed with the beauty that you have.'
'I'm not flattered,' I replied. He chuckled.
'I never expected you to be. As soon as we arrive where we're going, I'll get my official business done and I'm taking this train back to Moscow.' I looked down at my hands leaning on the railing. 'I won't be of any help to you, I will be gone and you will be left to the judgement of the men in charge there.' I snorted.
'The men.' I was startled by his warm and rough hand on top of mine, while he didn't seem startled at all by the fact that my hand was cold as ice. It felt as if it was going to freeze off. He squinted his eyes, rather amused, but it also felt belittling.
'I don't think they're going to kill you,' he said. That, and I don't know why, did frighten me. I looked up at him and the mediocre grin on his face, but then I was distracted by a whistle.
The machinist had pulled the horn of the locomotive, but there was no indication of the train slackening speed whatsoever. Why was there a sound? I looked towards the front of the train, but it was so long that I could barely even see the smoky steam coming from the coal engine. There was no reason for a whistle. What was happening?
I meant to ask the officer, but when I turned back around, he was gone. My hand was cold.