"There's only one track"
The man next to me grunts in response, eyes fixed in the opposite direction. I shrug and turn back to the window. A blizzard blows outside, icing the pane with frost and making all else indiscernible. Siberia. What a place.
There are only four of us in the carriage. The man sitting next to me seems like an affluent businessman of some sorts, no doubt off to peddle his wares in China. A second man eyes me curiously from across the aisle; dark rimmed eyes peering over the top of the Komsomolksaya Pravda. There is a woman too, but I don't have a good angle of her from my current seat. From what I can gather she is clad in black – mourning perhaps.
"There's something unsettling about a one way journey"
I continued speaking nonchalantly, not bothering to gauge my neighbour's reaction, if he even had one. It makes sense though, if you think about it. You can never go back. You're stuck being continually propelled forward.
The man reading the newspaper coughed. I glanced over briefly to see him still gazing at me. I disregarded him. However, there wasn't much else to really look at. The snowstorm outside the train obscured everything and I hadn't thought to bring something entertaining along for the journey. My well-thumbed copy of Predannaya Revolyutsiya was still back in Moscow. I felt it's loss acutely now. Trapped in this alley of a train carriage, it's almost as if I'm blind.
I turn my attention to the other passengers once more. The woman is by far the most captivating, which is saying a lot, for I can only see the back of her head. An ebony shawl partially obscures faded cherry locks. The original colour is dead; the spark of ember replaced by a charcoal hue, now smothered in a blanket of black. Her shoulders are hunched in defeat or resignation. Not sleep, for her hand twitches – albeit almost unnoticeably – on the arm of her chair. I wonder what she mourns for. A child perhaps.
The gentleman with the newspaper coughs again. I wonder if he has a sore throat. Perhaps he shouts a lot. He has the look about him of a man who barks orders and it wouldn't surprise me if I found my suspicions proved true. He wore a dark, expensive looking suit, which wouldn't have made him look out of place at funeral. Maybe that's what he was doing on the train, accompanying the grieving mother. I wonder why she chose a loud mouth such as him to accompany her to a funeral. How paradoxical.
What is my neighbour's part in all this I wonder? He still looks like the affluent businessman I had taken him for when I first sat next to him, but what is an entrepreneur doing with the bereaved? I sit for a moment, contemplating his visage. Despite his asocial demeanour, he has kind eyes and a mouth that I can once imagine having spoken an oath to Hippocrates. He must be a doctor. Which means the woman must have had an abortion. Poor woman. Such great hopes and aspirations for her child, dashed so suddenly. A radiant future wiped out in the blink of an eye, never able to reach the boundless horizons it was promised.
Of course, I am just fantasizing to pass the time. They're probably all nothing of the sort. Just fellow travellers. I look once more out of the window, as the train on one track flies through Siberian snow. We pass through landscapes that are rendered exactly alike, yet all the while inescapably different. We can never go back.
"Life really is beautiful".
At the next stop, the man with the newspaper beckons me off the train. My journey has ended.