Sunday, 24 August 2008

The motion of the train feels strange to him, evoking the feeling of memories he cannot translate to more than a blur. Looking through the window at the rushing countryside, with its hedges and green hills, he feels that his mind should be like this view, the parallax motion of the past should be slow and solid while the present rushes by without an indication of what will yet be remembered. His perspective seems somehow reversed, with only the present offering a sense of reality while internally there is nothing. The past slips by without any chance to examine or hold on to it, like eating peas with a knife.

He reaches down to the floor, picking up the rough canvas bag he has been carrying and opens its buckles with narrow, pale fingers. Inside there is little. A bottle of water with the seal still intact and a sandwich wrapped in plastic. He draws the sandwich out, again. He cannot quite being himself to eat it. He examines it. There is something wrong with it, something not real that he feels is at the edge of his vision. He tilts his head away from it to see if a different view offers any light. It still appears to him as two slices of foamy, tasteless bread enclosing slowly hardening cheese and ham. A girl is sat watching him from the seats on the other side of the carriage. Her mother, who is travelling with her, has momentarily disappeared.

-Is this really a sandwich? He asks her, holding it up.

She looks at him with a mixture of suspicion and precociousness. -Sort of, she says and then she smiles and looks away.

The man continues to stare at it for a short time and then twists himself in his seat to look for a bin. There is one tucked behind his chair. He pushes the sandwich inside. He doesn't want to take the risk.

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