On another night, we were walking out by the College Woods – an area of campus that resembled more farmland that university. If I remember, we had both taken a break from projects, had walked outside and decided to determine our path by the LeftRight method – where each person takes turns deciding to go left or right whenever there’s a fork in the road, etc. We walked towards the edge of campus and under the train bridge, chatting about what I’m sure was the most random of topics. Soon we had found our way to the edge of the woods, and though it was too dark to head into the trails, just the quietness of the surrounding trees and fields was enough to quiet anxious thoughts.
You could always hear the trains coming before you ever could see the lights – but not by the noise of the engine or their whistles, though those would come as soon as they went through the campus. Before that, you could hear the high-pitched squeal that ran through the metal at the first sign of breaks – singing through the rails for what seemed like miles.
She froze in the moonlight as she heard it.
“Have you ever raced a train?” She asked me in the dark, and the headlights of the engine turned the corner out of the woods.
“No?!” I screamed as the engine roared past us on the overpass and she was already gone – down the road that ran parallel to the tracks – feet light as air, the train speeding along beside her. I stood there, watching, not having enough time to comprehend. The horn sounded as it flew through the station, and let up on the breaks as it chugged through toward Maine taking the lead just as she was reaching the end of the road. Next to me, the boxcars kept coming, clacking on the rails as they trailed behind, their quieter, metallic sound blending back into the chorus of crickets.
Her feet smacked the pavement as she let up her sprint down the road. Spontaneity. Adventure. Intuition mixed with elation over life. She chased it with every ounce of herself. She jogged back down the street breathing heavy and dramatically collapsed at my feet.
“They never let you win” she gasped as she brushed her hair from her eyes, fake incredulity spread across her face.