Copyright 2011 Johnny Domawa
All Rights Reserved
“What the hell are you doing?” His voice is sharp in my ears. I didn’t turn to him or give him an indication that I heard him. I know what he was getting at and right at that moment, I had no desire to voice out my own doubts so I ignored him.
I stared across the empty train station. This was my private place – an abandoned subway station left to the elements and forgotten by time. You might say that I stumbled upon it during the course of my solitary walks in the city.
Mercifully, he was silent this time… my shadow and my friend.
I walked to the edge of the platform and looked into the darkened tunnel ahead. The tracks faded into the darkness to what is probably a dead-end somewhere up ahead, boarded up or cut down.... I really never thought about it. It’s much like life… the ending is never the point of it. It never is…
I gazed at the tracks I could see, noting where the rust is slowly reclaiming what is left of the steel tracks. I give it a hundred years for everything to disappear if it is left as it is. It might seem long in human years but in the greater sphere of things, it is nothing more than a blink of an eye, maybe shorter.
It might not last that long though. Someone in the bureaucracy will probably find it in the papers somewhere and will order for it to be broken down and another edifice of human accomplishment designed to fall to dust somewhere in the eons that will come will be built in its place.
I can draw a lot of comparisons to it. The brevity of human life for one, the flickering of mortal dreams and aspirations… everything which fades and turns to dust…
What the hell am I doing?
Even I have no clear cut answers to this question. What am I doing? True..., I can give some answers but those are superficial at best. I don’t have anything specific, just generalizations of goals that are changing and aimless...
“Do you think you can do it?”
This time, I looked at him. As usual, his face is hidden in the shadows. He is good at that. I know his face, of course but he always manages to hide it as if his whole life depended on him shielding it from the light. He is always hiding… not that I blame him for it. For him… for us, rather, it’s the only thing left to do…
To hide under false facades and to project outward appearances to mask who we really are when we are alone in places like this. Pitiful creatures we are both… strong on the outside but really weak insecure men inside… It is laughable now, the existence that we both lead…
“No…” I answer. It is the truth. Nothing grandiose or spectacular about it. Not for lack of confidence or anything. Honestly, I have no confidence if I can do anything or not. Of whether I can even manage to fulfill the promise I gave to myself once to at least try. There are many things I am still unsure of, too many variables that remain unresolved... and too many things that remain in the haze of the uncertain future.
We both know the reason we ask this. This is just one of the walls that need to be climbed over if the path that is shown over the hill yonder is going to be the road I’ll follow in this life.
I am nobody. A thirty year old fish in the sea starting once more from scratch, back against the wall, adrift mostly in this ocean that is called life. My existence is but a drop whose ripple can be barely felt in the wake of the wave that run on towards infinity.
I don’t even have the confidence to deliver on my own promises or my own goals for that matter. The years up ahead and God above are the only ones who know what happens in the end. I might come out as the man with all the answers but the truth is, I’m not that.... I’m just another fool in this life.
But this is life. One can only write and speak words which are rendered meaningless without resolve. If I fail, I’ll fail in a spectacular fashion. That’s what it is all about.
I stood up, brushing away the kinks in my muscles.
“Winter is coming…” I can already feel the bite of the cold in the air. Even underground, the end of autumn is apparent, the chill of the northern winds starting to make themselves felt....
We stared into the gathering darkness. Night is getting early in the north now. It will only be a matter of time before the winter reclaims the land in his embrace.
I picked an old can of pop from the floor. The label has faded but there is no mistaking the green color of ginger ale with the mark of the Great White North that once covered it. I smiled at the familiarity of it's presence. Just one of the things I’ve come to like here. It was a realization tinged with many things now...
Adulthood changes people. Like how time has made the label of the can fade.
My past idealism… my juvenile dreams… hopes of making it big in this world… looking at those aspirations makes me look at the future wistfully.
I flexed my arms and threw the can into the tracks. I watched it disappear, heard the noise of aluminum echo in the emptiness. The sound carried itself into the dull ache in my bosom, accentuating the chaotic emotions that warred there.
“Do you think that it will work out for the best?”
Somewhere in the distance, the can has settled, the last sound of it fading into silence. I did not look at him. I heard his question, let it hang into the moment… not really wanting to answer it.
Because the truth is, I’m not really sure of anything.
I ignored him.
He seemed to read into my silence and mercifully kept quiet. I seriously doubt I can pull it off though. I’m back to square one in everything.
“I’m going…” I turned away. I tire of thinking...
My footfalls echoed in the stillness. He made no move to follow me. Reaching the end of the platform to the stairs going up, I slowly turned around.
He was leaning into the column where I saw him last, still draped in shadow.
“Did you do it then?” he asked, looking my way.
I shook my head.
“I see…” he turned away. Even with me not being able to see his face, I knew that that he was disappointed. I smiled weakly in his direction and turned around again. Half a step up, I turned.
“Indirectly…” I spoke, remembering...
“What…” he didn’t hear me.
“I said indirectly…”
“Someday, I’ll do it properly and say it…” But even while uttering the words, I knew that I am unsure of even that happening.
He nodded. We both know what that meant. Despite my desire to say it, I might succumb to the familiar twinge of fear again that will freeze me senseless when the time comes. Even if I promise myself to be honest someday, I might just surrender to my own inability to be brave when it counts.
And we both know it.
I once said that the tragedy of our life is our own making. The irony of it is that I know it and yet I willingly allow myself to fall in the trap.
“You know something…” I stared into the distance. “I imagine the many ways I’d be able to say it… the scenarios play over and over on my mind that sometimes, I wonder if I’m sane…”
He remained silent.
“Ain’t life strange, somehow?” I asked into the void, more for my benefit than anything. “When I was younger, I told myself that when I am finally in this position, I won’t let anything stop me… that even if it is hell or heaven that stood between me and the one, I’d do everything in my power to make it come true…”
“And then it finally happens and where does that leave me?...” the familiar pain in my heart started to tingle again. “…a coward…”
I started towards the exit again.
“You said indirectly”
I turned to face him and nodded.
“That’s a start…”