The Westbound Train 🚉 Pt. 3

I can see trees outside and I know we’ll be stopping at another station soon. I used to take this train often. Toronto to Hamilton, my two favourite cities. One the posh booming metropolitan utopia the other working class up and comer. I loved it, they represented what I wanted and what I had to do to get there. I miss Hamilton and I try to get back there as often as possible. Take a stroll through the university campus, walk through Westdale, it just felt like home. I so badly wanted to move back here, raise my family, get married in St. Patrick’s, have my kids at McMaster Children’s Hospital, I had these plans for what I wanted my life to look like. It looks nothing like that. The train comes to a stop, we’re at Longbranch, I’m surprised to see people board the train. A young couple sits a few seats away. When the woman goes to sit she eases her way into the seat, she’s at least 7 months pregnant. She rests her hand on her stomach, its met by her husband’s, they share a look and kiss. They see me looking, I give a faint smile and open my book again. The train begins to move and just like that I can’t focus again. The young couple in front of me reminds me a lot of Nora and myself, not by the way they look but once upon a time she used to look at me like that. I try to focus on the page but I can’t, I keep seeing that look. I keep feeling her stare like she’s next to me, her hand on mine. I used to say that her hand fit perfectly in mine, it really did. When I close my eyes I can see her looking at me smiling. She used to do that when I’d edit photos, it made me smile and she always told me I needed to do that more.

I’ve given up on the book by the time we reach the next station. I just try and listen to some music while looking out the window. I can see the pregnant woman leaning on her husband. He kisses the top of her head and closes his eyes. We’ve left the city, we’re in that rural area just outside the GTA, its fields and trees. I can hear some children laughing upstairs as the song ends. I love when kids laugh, there’s something so perfect about it, so innocent and cute. It brings a smile to my face. It makes me remember Nora and I discussing having kids. It was a few months after we’d starting dating. She told me she wanted 4 kids, I told her I wanted 3. Her response was, “I have boobs, you’ll do whatever I want.” She wasn’t wrong. I remember the day she came home and told me that she was pregnant, I remember how both of us were over the moon. I also remember the day we went to the doctors for a check up, and I remember her saying the words that still haunt me today, “I don’t hear a heartbeat.” I can see Nora’s face; I can still see the tears streaming down her checks. It took her months to come out from the sadness that took over. Every time I kissed her I felt it, every time I hugged her she latched on longer. I’d squeeze, hold her and tell her that I was always going to be there, to protect her, to deliver her dream. I wanted so badly for her to feel better again, I just wanted that. I can vividly remember leaving the condo one night and walking along the boardwalk. I found myself sitting on a bench looking out into the vast darkness in front of me that was Lake Ontario. I sat there and started to pray, I asked god to make her dreams come true, to make all that sadness go away. Then I said, “If it comes at the price of my happiness, just… just make her happy.” Be careful for what you wish for.

When I moved to Sweden I was running, charging for the nearest exit. Within a few weeks of getting there I met Maria and we started dating. She was nothing like Nora, she was an introvert, a huge book worm, always behind a screen. She loved me and I’ll never forget the day I said “I love you” to her, I didn’t mean it. I cared for her, I enjoyed her, she was gorgeous, and seriously fit into my life very well. But I didn’t love her. I wanted to, I tried but I couldn’t. Every time I tried I would think about Nora. I would think back to when we broke up and how the summer it ended we tried to be friends. How we’d slip and say we missed each other, how on some level we thought we’d end up together again. We did grow apart and that just happens. The history we shared I think gave us both hope. Yeah when I think about it now I can see that there were definitely times where I thought she didn’t love me, but I know there were times where I definitely hurt her. On some level I was looking for that movie love. Being with Nora showed me that that kind of love only exists on the big screen. I close my eyes and lean my head against the window.

When my eyes open I can see we’re moving at a snail pace. We must be near the repairs. Earlier in the week a woman jumped onto the tracks. She was heading home from work where she was a researcher at a pharmaceutical company. I remember there was a big storm that day and the trains, and busses were backed up and being rerouted because of flooding. I was coming back from Milan where a friend of mine was getting married. I decided to grab coffee before I made my way to the cab. When I was waiting in line I saw the news story that someone had jumped onto the tracks along the Lakeshore West line, further adding to the already mounting traffic problem. Such a messy way to go is what I thought. My mom lives close to Pearson so I called her and asked if I could spend the night. I knew trying to get back into the city would be a nightmare. I called Maria after and left a message telling her I hoped she was on the train okay and that I’d be spending the night at my mom’s place.

I can see the repair crew tending to the tracks as the train crawls by. Some of the line needed repairing a while ago and this unfortunate event has provided an opportunity to do so. After we clear this stretch we’ll be in Hamilton in 20 minutes.