Helen Jun

“Miss, could you move please?”

I jolt awake. “Yes, sorry, of course.”

The proximity of the luggage boy surprises me and I jerk away. I pick up my bags from under

the bench, a lifetime of gatherings: a clutter of coins, a diary, a textbook, my grandmother’s


He turns to leave; I watch his back. “Are you curious why I am here?” I ask.

He doesn’t hear; my voice is too soft. His footsteps echo eerily against the train station’s tile

walls, and I pick up my bags.

I open my grandmother’s pouch. “Station 4,” the ticket reads. I tap my feet, waiting.

The train arrives silently, a mechanical snake gliding along the track. I enter through the mouth;

inside the passengers sleep sluggishly, their eyelids shut to the darkness of the cars.

An old lady is sleeping with a face hidden in her shawl. I sit beside her, close my eyes, and

succumb to sleep.

Morning jerks me awake with the light, piercing my eyes like a scream. Soon the train

submerges back into a tunnel, and I open my eyes.

The tunnel stretches on like the lifetime before me, the train slithering interminably with

purposeless passion, like my grandmother’s endless tirades of unwanted plans, the train tickets

forced into my hand.

I sit, watch, muse: where does the train stop?

Time passes, and my eyes adjust gradually to the approaching light. The train emerges,

resurfacing into bright relief, and the sunlight blooms like a balloon to manifest a haven of

verdant hills. The fields flow with milk and honey; old trees extend their arms to give rest to the

bright-clad people who lace the hills like wildflowers.

And for a passing second I see a choice, an alternate bend on the road; a path unruly and

unplanned, but imbued with the hope of spontaneity. A shot at distinction from the sleeping


The luggage boy hovers before me like a specter, asking, “Miss, where are you going?”

The snake slithers silently. The shadows around me slumber, and the train travels on, the coins in

my grandmother’s pouch jingling lightly with the hum of the track.

But I look behind me to the hills that sing the prelude, and wonder.