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Rail

User Thread
 30yrs • F •
A CTL of 1 means that Arcanum is a contributing member of Captain Cynic.
Rail
A short narrative about an antisocial, I think.

Rail

The evening sun hung half over the horizon, slowly sinking below the thin thread. She wondered if it was the sun sinking below the line, or whatever that was below it drawing the sun down. The thread, however, was not a line separating sky and sea; instead, it was a much crooked line, forming the outlines of skyscrapers and cranes building them. Growing up in the city, she never saw the traditional sunsets at the seaside that romance novels dictated that one must kiss one's significant other before. She was satisfied with the landscape though, because everything the rays of warmth touched became alive.

The sunset made the city beautiful and warm. It was the only hour of the day it was so. The concrete jungle gleamed and glowed, windows of buildings reflecting the sun's rays, multiplying it and shining like a million brilliant diamonds.

Like all the many sunsets that she so enjoyed, it was a brilliant orange. The bright light shone strongly with much unsaid passion, staining the whole sky and landscape with hues of red, orange and yellow. Each shade blended and mingled with another, you couldn't tell where exactly each shades dominated. It was as if the sky had changed colour, and the clouds were ablaze with fire. This fire hungrily lapped and devoured every surface available, including her.

That was why she liked sunsets. The world because surreal because of them. She never ignored sunsets. Plenty of people perceive them as beautiful and romantic backgrounds which are part of a beautiful image. She thought those images did the sunset no justice. Sunsets were not merely backdrops to whatever fancy plots mankind hatched. It would do fine being the protagonist all by itself.

It was a beauty so natural and effortless she was sometimes jealous of it. How much effort had she put in to keep herself looking decently presentable? She knew that she was a tad bit vain, but she accepted that as womankind's nature. Besides, she enjoyed it.

Walking on, she came beside a long canal. She followed its fence and casually strolled, letting her hand trail along its rusty rail. Her heels clicked on the concrete pavement in tandem with each leisurely step, and listening to its rhythm one could tell that she was thoroughly enjoying herself. Closing her eyes, she let her skin soak in the comforting rays of warmth. Without knowing so, a smile broke through her tired features.

The rail trembled slightly beneath her fingers. A soft, slight pulse of the hollow metal, but enough for her to notice. She stopped and wrapped her hand around the thin tube. It came again, like a heartbeat of the fence. And again, like it had rhythm. She opened her eyes and looked forward. She saw a shadow approaching, its hand on the fence. She couldn't see him clearly yet, he was a fair distance away, and the rich orange tint of air obstructed part of her vision. She squinted. Definitely male, walking towards her. Maybe not towards her, but in a direction opposite to which she was traversing.

Strange. Most people would be caught in the mad rush to go home and have dinner, or caught in the frenzy of bar goers enjoying their happy hours after work. Few would push social and family life aside and stroll at a place obscure as this. Few, and far in between. Or maybe this person wanted a break from the frenzy of city life, too.

The fence kept vibrating, announcing his arrival, connecting the otherwise unfamiliar silhouettes with each other. She knew he was tapping his nails on the hollow metal as he walked. It was as if she not only could see him, but could feel him too. The rhythmic waves contrasted with the irregular clicks of her heels. She continued walking slowly forward, vaguely considering whether she should turn and go to avoid the inevitable awkward stare provided that both of the continued on their path. Frowning, she realized that she was annoyed that this shadow had invaded and ruined her tranquil evening. It was a sunset she was unwilling to share. How long had he been here anyway? Since the pulsing started? Long before that?

Obstacles of social nature was the last thing she wanted to deal with at a time like this, when she let her feelings frolic and be free and let her mind wander to places never before imagined as it pleased. But she didn't want to back down. She had been here more than he, and the sunset was hers as much as it was his. She did not want to run from a faceless shadow that made the railing palpitate. He had invaded the railing, too.

When they met, who would give way? Who would take their hand off the railing and let the other continue? It would be him. The gentleman should always give way to the lady, and even more so in this situation. Aren't we usually more courteous to strangers and acquaintances than those close to us? Well, unless he wasn't a gentleman, but she was still not willing to give up possession of the railing, even if it pulsed of him.

Tap, tap, tap.

Click, click, click.

They were closer now, and she frowned because since the pulsing started, she could not enjoy her steps like before. A single silhouette had brought about much to ponder. She rolled her eyes and chided herself. She was too antisocial. It was just another person, another being of her same species. She, being a perfectly normal (or so she hoped) adult, should have no problems dealing with a simple chance encounter. She was thinking too much into it. Introversion and fatigue, that was her explanation for it.

She could vaguely make out his features. He looked decently normal, of average height. But these didn't register. What registered was she could tell that he was looking straight at her. She avoided eye contact by staring at the sunset. She just knew The Inevitable Awkward Stare would come. She wondered why people were so scrutinizing. Every time she entered an elevator with other people, she would feel the awkward tension that she could not explain. Why? Stuck in a small enclosed space with another unknown person temporarily didn't appear to her as threatening or awkward.

And that was why she could not explain why she felt uncomfortable under his scrutiny. He was a stranger whose scrutiny didn't matter, that was how it was supposed to be. She brought her gaze back to the stranger. They were a meter apart now, and both had stopped walking. Instead of making eye contact, she studied his features. He had a pleasant smile across his face and was studying her with his head slightly tilted. She frowned and felt even more uncomfortable. How unfair was it that he was at ease while she the opposite?

'Evening,' said a voice somewhere. It was so short a word that she thought she had imagined it, but his features told her that he was expecting a reply. Without moving any muscles on her face other than her lips, she made a small smile and replied, 'Evening.' She mentally cringed as her voice croaked with misuse. She made a pretend cough to account for that. 'Evening,' she repeated, in a normal voice.

His hand was still on the rail, though he had stopped tapping. The rail suddenly felt cold and uncomfortably motionless as her hand had gotten used to the rhythmic waves that extended even to her fingers.

His hand left the rail, as he walked around her and continued on his way. She continued on her walk too, her heels once again sounding a leisurely pace. The smile returned as he faded out of her evening.

The rail was still motionless. So she tapped her nails on it as she walked, humming a soft tune to herself. Whether he had replaced his hand on the rail, she couldn't care less.

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"Some men are wise. Others are otherwise."
Rail
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