I am on a train. I’ve been on this train before. In fact, I am a regular. Each time, a different car. Each car, a different world. Each blink, a fresh glimpse into someone’s life.
Some nights I’m stuck in one car. Unable to realize I’m on a moving train. Unable to become lucid. But I am comfortable in this state of unknowing. Comfortable in the windowless cars. I sometimes feel the movement, but there are no questions. No concerns. I simply be.
Other nights I feel the tracks beneath my feet. I will realize I am moving. I will close my eyes and when I open them I will be in the next car.
Tonight I am in a packed car. Full of people like me I assume. Travelers. All of the seats are taken so I am standing. Everyone has their head down. They are in limbo. I don’t make eye contact with anyone. In fact, I’m avoiding it. We are all avoiding it. Or maybe we are avoiding the fluorescent light. This is definitely not our end destination. I don’t want anyone to see me.
I spot an empty seat. The car is thinning out of people. I spot an empty seat next to a faceless woman with blonde wavy hair. Sprawled out. Relaxing. Lounging. I don’t want to intrude. I’d rather not sit next to her. Her body language is uninviting. I worry that she’ll turn her head and look at me and I want to avoid recognition. Besides, I’m standing three rows away and it’s not worth the effort to climb over. But who knows how long I’ll be here.
A man stands at the front of the car. He appears to be official. Wearing a grey shirt that reads US ARMY. He is looking over and monitoring the seating situation. Directing newcomers to their seat. Inviting only those who are worthy of his direction. He signals me. Pointing to the seat next to the blonde woman. My intentions shift. Suddenly, the seat looks inviting to me so I climb over the rows and sit down.
He is walking toward me. I become nervous. He is not like me. He is an other. He is the US army. So I know he can’t be trusted. I can’t reveal too much to him. He will not use my power for good. But still, I allow him to advance. I’m curious. I open myself up. There are no longer any others on this car. Including the blonde woman. It’s just us. The lights start flickering out. Let’s see how far I can push this.
The closer I get to my limit, the harder it is to escape. Good thing he stopped. He says he’ll be back. Then he disappears. Perfect timing. I close my eyes. I disappear.
When I open my eyes I’m in a bathroom. A very clean and luxurious bathroom. Familiar territory. I exit through a sliding door.
The lighting in this car is much more inviting and comfortable. Dim and orange tinted. I’ve never been on a yacht but I imagine this is what it’s like. I’m definitely in someone else’s space. But I’m not intruding. I’ve been invited. But where is my host?
I walk around the car. It feels like Im in a basement. A dark cage of a place that’s been transformed into something comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. Expensive modern furniture met with tasteful carpet. The carpet acts like a blanket. Contradicting the modern furniture. Muffling outside noises. This place is uniquely sculpted to meet somebody’s specific taste. Suburban jet setter chic.
A tiny young girl flutters in. Like nobody I’ve ever seen. But I’ve felt her before. Like an old friend. She’s itty bitty. She appears to have a disability. She looks nothing like her peers. We instantly click. We laugh and play like children. She is a child. And for that moment, I am too. We speak the same language. We have so much fun playing with bugs and goofing off.
Her father walks in. Dressed in formal clothing. He checks each room. Inspecting and scanning for imperfections. He thinks he’s giving his small daughter everything. More than he ever had. He only lets his her leave the car with a babysitter. Approved by him of course. He buys protection. A cold form of affection.But this is the language he speaks. It’s all he knows. Wealth and security are clearly things he deeply values.
Before he even gets a chance to unwind, he sits down at a table and gets down to business. As he watches us play, his face lights up. He immediately starts listing terms and conditions. Insisting I name a price. I’m thrown off guard, having no idea this was a job interview.
I felt her pain. He doesn’t know what to do with her because she is so different in his world. I don’t see her as different. It’s very easy to connect with her. It’s natural. We were having so much fun goofing off and joking. You can’t quantify that. You can’t put a price on human connection.
I couldn’t tell how old she was. It didn’t seem to matter. She looked so frail. Like she could get caught in a door and snap into two. Or blow away in the wind. I didn’t let her appearance fool me. All 5 pounds of her were far more strong and wise than her mildly overbearing father.
No matter how shiny and nice he makes his car, it’s only temporary. We are all on the same train headed to the same destination. I have no doubts that she will thrive in that place. She is prepared from within.
From the outside, one would look at the two and see a disabled child with a stable, successful, healthy father. They would feel sorry for her because of her disability. I saw the opposite. The child was fine. It was the father that I left that dream praying for.
When my eyes open, I’m in my bed. I have returned to earth. I check my earth phone.
A text message from an old friend: “The healing has begun… We’re getting better now”