Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Train to Aokigahara by Eliz M. Aviles

A girl tries to escape the confines of both her apartment and her guilt about an unusual gift; by Eliz M. Aviles.

The train wasn't in a hurry to leave. I could have stood outside the doors for another minute and it would have remained still. I stepped in, relieved it wasn't crowded inside. It seemed today was a slow day. In other words, I made the best decision to leave my apartment after a week.

I sat in the farthest seat next to the window. The air inside smelled like antiseptics. The seat was warmed up from someone else's body heat.

Only two people were close, but not close enough for me to have any physical contact. I grew so tired of being locked inside four walls, and I needed this small trip to God-knows-where. But I had to avoid touching strangers. I did not want to involve myself with people's problems after seeing their past and thoughts play in mind like a movie.

I raised my hands in front of me, and stared at my palms. I wondered if there were any secrets behind the lines. I considered visiting a fortune teller, but I would end up seeing her life and thoughts instead of it being vice versa.

I looked outside the window and stared at the skyscrapers. The sun's rays flickered between the buildings as the train careened past.

A few passengers got up near the doors, getting ready to exit at the upcoming stop.

I wasn't sure where to stop, but I planned to stay on the train a little longer until the buildings disappeared.



I couldn't tell how long it had been, but I woke up after feeling the sun's warmth touch my face. I barely saw the remaining buildings; the sun was completely exposed in the pale blue sky.

I began to look around and realized there was only one other person left aboard. A young man, about my age, sat on the other side of the train, staring outside the window. His black hair was shining with the rays of the sun. It didn't take much sight to notice his droopy eyes. It didn't mean he was sleepy, but sad. I didn't need to touch him to know. His eyes were opened windows while the rest of his features were still as blank walls.

I looked away quickly before he noticed my gawking, but once I looked again, he stood in the same position. I wondered if he even knew I was there.

What is wrong with him? I began to wonder. And then I felt it. I began to feel the curiosity cloud my mind. I couldn't help it, and it bothered me. I had this same feeling when I saw a suspicious woman a week ago. When I touched her, I saw that she was on her way to kill her ex-husband. Paralyzed by fear, I couldn't do anything about it, and when I read about her successful murder in the newspaper, my devastation turned into self-isolation.

Still, I had a feeling he wasn't a murderer.

He's also kind of cute. I rolled my eyes at myself for thinking that.

As the train got close to the next stop, I instinctively devised a plan to pretend I was getting off and then "realizing" it wasn't my stop. That way I could sit closer and touch him by "accident".

What? No, no, no. I couldn't understand why my curiosity grew more, but my legs got me up to walk over the other side. When I realized what I was doing, I felt so embarrassed.

"Oh, how silly of me," I said and tried not to sound obvious. "This is not my stop."

He finally looked, but didn't say anything. He just continued to look outside the window.

I can't believe I'm doing this. I walked towards the seat behind him. My arm grazed against the soft fabric of his shirt. It was enough to let me see.

He was just a little boy when his uncle gave him the news that both of his parents had died in a car accident. He left his home, his friends, and moved far away with an uncle he barely knew. Tears were always fresh on his shirt everyday he came back from school. He would also come home with purple bruises. But was it home? His uncle was hardly there. He thought he was happy when he had a girlfriend in high school, but once a nasty rumor of her was spread around the school, she was bullied so much that she took her life. Now he attended college with no idea what to study. No idea where to head.

Hiroki. The name was clear in my mind. A name that felt familiar. Hiroki is on his way to hang himself in the tallest tree of Aokigahara Forest. The thought was spoken in a grim voice. I asked for this. And now, I accepted the consequences.

"Do you mind if I sit next to you?" I asked him.

He looked at me with a questioning look. "Sure," he said, trying to soften his expression.

"Thank you," I smiled.

I sat, unsure of what to do next. I looked at him, and he at me. Silence. I cracked my knuckles, breaking the quietude. "I was wondering, do you study in Tokyo U?"

"Yes," he said with a surprised look. "How do you know?"

"I think I've seen you before."

He shrugged.

Silence again. My knuckles ran out of noise. "What do you study?"

"I'm undecided," he said, with a sad tone.

"Oh, anything you like to do in particular?"

"No."

"Oh," I didn't know what I was doing, but I didn't want to read about his death in the newspaper. "Well, you look like the type of person who enjoys architecture."

His eyes widened. "How'd you know?"

"Lucky guess," I chuckled. "Or the fact that you have a magazine about it gave it away."

He looked at his magazine. "Well of course," he said, and chuckled after a pause.

Good response. You're doing well. "Why don't you go for that?"

"I can't draw."

"It doesn't matter. You can take lessons. I want to be a pastry chef, but I'm always burning everything. So, now I'm taking lessons," I smiled.

He looked at me.

We were getting close to the stop at Aokigahara.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't catch your name."

"I'm Chie. It means wisdom, but honestly, I'm more impulsive than I am wise," I said, and gave a small laugh.

His smile was subtle. "I'm Hiroki."

When he said it, I tried to recall the meaning of that name.

"Hiroki, are you hungry? Sorry if I sound strange, but I know of this café. But we would have to make a round-trip. You're not busy, are you?" I sounded a little desperate.

His eyes were confused, but then he sighed. "Sorry, Chie, but I am."

It pained me to hear those words. Temptation made me want to tell him that I knew what he was going do, but that might scare him even more. What do I do?

The train stopped. That was it.

"It was nice speaking with you, Chie," he said, and got up.

When he was in front of the door, I said, "Hiroki."

He looked at me.

"Your name means strength."

He stood there. The door opened but he stood there. He looked at me and asked, "You go to Tokyo U?"

"Yes."

He walked toward me and extended his hand. When I grabbed it, he said, "I'll look for you."

That's when I saw it. His mind was changing somehow. As if murky waters were clearing.

He smiled, and left.

For the first time in a long while, I considered my powers a gift.

9 comments:

  1. a very enjoyable story, nice, patient build up and seductive choice of words. Well done

    Michael McCarthy

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  2. The dialog/interplay between the two characters is well done and nothing beats an uplifting ending!

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  3. I liked this story a lot! I was caught off-guard when the location was revealed to be Japan, I think because I so heavily identified with the narrator. The author must be a fan of Murakami? The surrealistic flavor (of telepathy) in the otherwise crushingly mundane setting was reminiscent of his style.

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    1. Yes, I am a fan of Murakami. I chose Japan because I was moved by an article I read about the Aokigahara Forest. It's known as the suicide forest. I know there isn't a train stop there, but of course this is fiction :) Anyway, I'm really glad you like it! Thank you

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  4. Eliz, I'm so happy you got published ^^ You've become an excellent writer. Or rather, I've always enjoyed your stories, at least the ones I've read. =] Short stories are probably my favorite form of literature, and reading this filled my heart, as any good short story should. Kudos. Many kudos! I've never been published :P

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  5. I enjoyed it. Congrats!!! Your parents must be very proud!!

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  6. Nice story! Short and touching.

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