Train Passengers

Fotografía/photograph: Elena del Rivero Fernández Modelos (de izquierda a derecha)- Actors (from right to left): Carlos Fuenlabrada, Jonatan González, Gonzalo Para, María Prendes, Nicolás Bustos  Peluquería y maquillaje / Hair-dressing and make-up:

Picture by Elena del Rivero Fernández. Actors (from right to left): Carlos Fernández-Simal Pérez, Jonathan González, Gonzalo Para, María Prendes, Nico Croze. Make-up and hair-dressing: Special Thanks: Lidia Estepa, Isaac M del Rivero, Omar Álvarez García, Fernando Mekolay and Ramón Manso Cabrero

Mar once met a guy who understood the language of the clouds. With a single glance he’d say “that cumulonimbus likes travelling, but that one over there is sad.” One day he convinced the cloud to hide him and Mar was never to see him again. Another boyfriend of hers always found a free seat or spot. It was great for going to exclusive concerts or finding a taxi on a rainy day. But when he found another girl he also took off.

She’d spent months sitting in a station, waiting for a companion. Trains had passed with destinations she would have loved to see, but somewhere she didn’t want to go alone. She checked her watch every now and then and asked herself when he’d show up.

That morning Mar was observing the passengers at the station and trying to guess their talents. It was because she could see them; it was a gift of hers. That one added just the right amount of salt to their food, and that one over there was never late. She kept herself amused while sitting on top of her suitcases, almost bursting at the seams, when a man tapped her shoulder.

I’m afraid you’re going to have to vacate the station,” he said.

This baffled Mar. She looked around and didn’t see anything justifying that claim.

I don’t understand. Is something going on?”

Yes, company policy only allows passengers to wait up to the time of departure.”

Mar squinted and focused on the gray-haired man talking. He was wearing a blue jacket with a matching hat, a silver whistle and a watch on his right-hand wrist. The Station Manager also had the gift of knowing when something had finished and something else was going to start. He knew when somebody was going to die, a woman was giving birth and if summer would come early this year.

I can’t, I need to wait for my companion. I don’t dare go alone!”

A train whistle blew and a steam engine started up. The Station Manager looked at his watch and then at the big station clock hanging over them. He smiled with satisfaction.

Everything here moves to a planned rhythm,” he insisted.

And what happens if I don’t want to go?” she asked him stubbornly.

People were passing them by and the station manager glanced at his watch. The man motioned for her to stand up and Mar obeyed. Then he picked up one of her suitcases and held it midair for a moment.

I see you’ve done a good job. Your cases are heavy, and they’re almost bursting at the seams. It would be a pity to lose everything.”

What are you talking about?” she asked.

Well, people who waste their time waiting for something to happen end up losing other stuff.”

He put the case on a bench, opened a side-pocket and retrieved a skill Mar had kept. He examined it and put it back. “I see you can swim 500 metres without tiring out, and you never burn the cooking,” he said holding both skills between his thumb and index finger, “and you even know how to play an instrument. This won’t do any good from here, where you are right now.”

Mar furrowed her brow and she was silent for a moment as she watched the man take things out of her suitcase, one after another, and put them back again.

I’d keep all of this,” the Station Manager remarked.

Mar looked at the big station clock and its little hands. She had almost forgotten how heavy her suitcases were and the hard work it had taken to pack them. She thought of the years of hard work wasted if this man was just going to snatch them up. She took a step forward, picked up her baggage and moved towards the wagon. The engine turned on just as she was taking a seat.

The wagon started moving ahead, at first slowly and then faster. From her seat Mar could see the passengers going in different directions or waiting. She tried to guess their gifts: that one knew if a smile was sincere or fake and the other one always had warm feet. But none of them were on her train and she and her suitcases would never wait for them again.