The Longest Train Ride

One night, coming home from after school beers with the guys on a Friday, I left the pub in Tokyo to find that it had snowed heavily, and was still snowing heavily. Thick soft chunks of white fluff falling out of a dark sky splattered with the lights of Ikebukuro. I ran through the cold wind to the station, throwing a breathless “see ya” at my friend, as he disappeared into the station, in a different direction.

The train was late of course, but I didn’t think anything of it as I jumped on and waited for it to take off. The train finally moved forward and I was relieved. But the relief didn’t last very long. After only a couple of stations, the train came to a shuddering halt, and we were informed that we could not progress forward for a while. The train moved slowly through the night, inching its way into Saitama prefecture, as it got later and later. My phone died a slow and agonizing death. The crowd riding the usually packed train slowly thinned as we moved on. I found myself sitting next to a young woman and I asked her for help with one of the announcements I couldn’t quite make out. Luckily she spoke some English and translated the words I couldn’t get. We started chatting, and she turned out to be an artist, and we talked about music, and art and she helped me while away the time. I’ve lost contact with her now, I wonder how she’s been. I can’t even remember her name. I wish I could go back and thank her again for keeping me company that night.
Finally, after dawn had broken, and the snow had stopped we arrived at one station off from our station. We had been travelling to the same station. As we stepped out of the station, she offered me her extra umbrella, which I really needed, as mine was broken. The snow had given way to a hard freezing rain and the wind blew cold air into us mercilessly. We walked about five kilometers home, through snow piled up to our butts as we trudged mostly in silence.
We parted ways at the entrance to her neighborhood, and I waved goodbye to her.
I stumped home in a sorry state and collapsed frozen and wet and cold and miserable. I struggled to peel the clothes off me and threw them in the direction of the washing machine. When I was finally in warm and dry clothes, I called my boss at the part time job I had and told him I would not be coming in. I needed some serious sleep. I had left Ikebukuro station for what was supposed to be a 40 minute ride, and didn’t get home until nearly 8 AM the next morning.
I hope my old friend on that train is doing well, and that her art is selling. I will always remember how nice it was to find a friend in such a cold dark place.


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