North and South

A split-second matters.

It has spelled the difference between an A from an A+, a gold medalist from the silver medalist, and the casualties from the survivors. It is also why I am cursing while my teeth grit. I would have caught the train had I been just one step faster.

While the train has not yet left the station, its doors are already closed. There’s no way of opening them from my side. And all that the driver awaits for is the signal.

My heavy head searches the dirt-caked tiles for comfort or whatever form of reassurance there was on earth. None could be found, save for the defeat that I pay respects to but with hesitance. My eyes close. I know I would be late.

Engines roar to life. The steel beast has swallowed enough humans in its belly. It pads away in the shade yet quickly gives chase the second it feels the sun. Its twin does the same but in the opposite direction.

Opening my eyes again, the shame is still at my feet, which are made of lead now. I couldn’t bear to look at my shoes any further.

So I lift my gaze. And your sight met mine from across the platform. The rails remain motionless between us.

Of all people, it had to be you. Of all places, it had to be here. Of all hours, it had to be now.

The crowd that disappeared in the train awhile ago now found their way in my head. The station is as dead as a cemetery. My memory is a flower garden in midsummer.

For a moment, I was transfixed. Time did not dare pass between you and me. With another blink, my fingers began to touch unseen piano keys. My feet discovered wheels beneath them. My eyes began to remember your name.

Just as the first word jumped over the rails, two other steel beasts bounded in to the station. And they were hungry, like all others. They spewed out humans. They devoured humans. The noise, the chaos, the shadows gathered. And the word perished with the coming of the trains and disappeared when they left.

All that remained: a station, a blur, and a split of a second.

Photo by Mario Calvo (
Photo by Mario Calvo (

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