A sullen night drew near and another window of a regular day came to a close. I could feel the shiver in my breath, seeing its puff as I breathe the whiff of the winter air, the curse of the glimmering cold. The trees were empty of dead leaves while the sky brimmed to gradient ash-pale, soon followed with the first fall of snow.
I sat on a bench while waiting for the train, holding my old pen and a precious notebook filled with already written verses. Words couldn't add more "flamboyant" products in my unfinished works. It has been weeks, and nothing's come up.
The ideas I've had may have already gone home themselves and would've left when I'm there. Calls from my editors would probably come anytime to ask me about my work, and I'll be there to answer them with more flustered, lame excuses.
The place I gazed upon could offer some sort of inspiration. It could, my first thoughts. But, as usual, I'm alone in this world of mine. Or maybe we all are, the few of us here, who were eagerly waiting for the trains to come: the shallow movement of their darkened coats almost filled the empty gaps, their heads tilted on their phones illuminating the surface of their faces, their loved ones where hands are intertwined, and the cold metal railings of the trains waiting for when they would come.
My sunken eyes darted on the pavement, to the ticking clock, and to the guards that roamed the station. I am one of those that were waiting for their ride, a journey of escape with a repetitive destination. I watched as people, left and right, alked and talked and smiled and laughed. But I often impose that deep within them, their secrets and worries were hidden in locks; no matter how minuscule or towering they may be, they're all too focused on their own enclosed worlds filled with problems and blissfully looking for answers.
I glimpsed at my half-finished stories, scanned from each line, passed through every meaning, and then looked above beyond the horizon to see the colors as they slowly disappear.
"Such a disaster," I muttered.
As I imagined the sands of the time slowly and continuously dropping below a non-existent hourglass, I unconsciously played with my old pen precariously glued between my fingers. From the thumb to the pointy, rolling until it reaches the tip of my pinky, with my thoughts swimming to the deepest parts of the Mariana Trench, when my awful clumsiness suddenly kicked me from behind.
The pen dropped as if being flinged by a catapult. I almost thought that it broke off as its cap flew in the opposite direction. The shaft of the pen, on the other hand, was a tractor with a broken break pedal plowing mercilessly on empty, rocky, and cemented fields.
I followed it for a mere meter, trying to catch fish that escaped its bait, before finally stopping below someone's foot. A brown, thin sweater reached the old, almost broken pen.
"I think you've dropped this."
I stopped and looked where that familiar voice came from. The hands were almost cold and pale up to his shoulders, lightly covered in tiny strands of thin hair while the light of the shallow setting sun ran across his arm. A ring coiled around his finger almost blinded my left eye as it gleamed and blinked. And at this point all I could've shouted was "mister, I do you no harm."
And unlike other days that had passed, the months I've painfully withstand, the unfamiliarity seemed to have ended.
I stood upright, shaking from either to the cold or to the sudden fright, and reached for the pen from the calm grasp of his hand.
"Y-yes, thank you." That was all I could say. I couldn't look him in the eye. I couldn't let him look at me.
He smiled before asking for my name. Zachary, I answered. A rather unique-ish, gibberish alias. It was as if the first time he'd asked me for my name. And the first time I hoped he didn't remember.
"Your pen looks broken. Do you not want to buy another one?" He said in a monotonous yet gleeful tone. I sighed, momentarily. It seemed like he doesn't know me. It seemed like we never had any past.
"You're right." Of course, he's right. "Although it would be such a waste. There is still some ink in it left." I said in a forced smile, looking at the old pen. I tried backing away slowly, just in case. He followed me in every step I took.
"Are you writing something important?" He said as he pointed at my broken pen, slowly walking toward me.
"Something like that." I finally stopped but still couldn't look at him eye-to-eye. I tried to hide the sudden urge to want to escape again with a broken smile.
He asked me if he could be of assistance in buying a new "special" pen from a bookstore near the AA station. I didn't answer him quickly enough. He vaguely scanned me from top-to-bottom. He saw my hands as they trembled subtly, trying to hide the broken pen away from his sights, purposely hiding my notebook inside my brown, almost dilapidated satchel.
"I don't intend to be creepy or anything." He said. "It's just compensation for what I did to your pen. It must've been special for you." He backed away slowly. His giggles pierced through my ears as if they were songs that I have heard before.
"I don't think you're... creepy, in that matter," I said. I looked at him once more. It really was him and I just couldn't believe my own eyes. But I have to be composed. "I just think that you're just being friendly. Perhaps too friendly, especially to someone you've just met."
"How about being a borderline peer-pressure stranger?"
"Yeah..." I chuckled. "Somewhere around that." It had been so long but he still could make me laugh, let alone have a truer smile. It had been so long that I thought I had missed my own momentary happiness.
"My deepest apologies." He said. He seemed to beam with smile, cautiously thinking of new words to say. "It's just that, your pen..." He subtly peeked at the pen hidden behind my back, softly pointing at it while taking a few steps forward.
"You don't need to do that for me. It was my fault for accidentally dropping this pen in the first place. I should be the one going into trouble finding a new pen."
"It's going to be on me. And I know you've been working hard for your work." He said while looking at my satchel. He was right, again. It would be a problem for me if I can't find any replacement for the pen as soon as possible. I held it too dearly to be replaced, used for specialties. He was right. To me, he was always right.
I hesitated to accept his offer.
How could I after all these times?
"My name's Jacob." He said. "Jacob Dion." He raised his hand, patiently waited for mine to grasp and shake it.
Indeed, how could I after all these times?
And just like how the seasons change and turn only to be felt all around the world, we met again. We met again in an unexpected time, in an unexpected place, along with all the unexpected distant memories that I never would have thought to come flowing back.
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