The Chance Encounter
The passing clouds in the sky formed the perfect veil for the full moon. The pitch black night was covered in thick winter fog. An aroma of mystery filled the ambience around Rosendale station, a small station where only a few trains would stop only if passengers demanded. Besides a single platform, the station did not have any shops. On the other side of the platform was a rainforest that added to the mystic scenery. On the platform was a waiting room dimly lit up by street lights. Some light and dark shadows blended well in the waiting room. There was enough light to see yet it was dark enough for solitude.
On a wooden bench in the waiting room sat a man in long grey coat and dark blue jeans. His legs stretched on the small table with his feet crossed. His eyes closed as his head rested on the back of the bench. The swinging pendulum in the old wall clock was the only sound in this small silent room. Suddenly breaking the silence a young lady entered the room. The sound of her footsteps made the man open his eyes. He saw the young lady in black jeans and grey denim jacket with red buttons. She had long auburn hair flowing past her shoulders. A silver bangle with ocean blue etches adorned her left wrist. As she put her bag on the floor and sat on the bench across from the man, the light from the windowpane illuminated her face. He saw her almond-shaped midnight black eyes painted in striking black eyeliner and graced with lush eyelashes. Her eyes were doorways to halls of deep tales that intrigue the curious mind to discover her. Her pleasant smile only heightens the interest know her more.
Upon noticing that her entranced had interrupted the man’s respite she decided to apologise.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you,” she said.
“It’s okay. I wasn’t sleeping as such. Just had my eyes closed,” he replied.
He noticed her silvery voice. Her tone sounded as if he had heard her before although he had only seen her a few moments ago.
There was silence again as they both sat quietly at opposite ends of the room, occasionally catching glimpses of each other. She noticed that his style suggested an interest in classic menswear of the 1950s. From the other end he noticed how her attire was very well put together. Her minimal jewellery suggested a touch of simplicity. At once she broke the ice and asked if it’s okay to open the window.
To this he replied, “Sure. If you don’t mind the cold breeze.”
“I’m from the Northern Highlands. I’m used to cold winter nights. Plus, this room could do with some fresh air,” she said with a smile while opening the window.
“So, what brings the girl from the Highlands to Rosendale at this time?” he inquired.
“I’m passing by. This is a stopover. My train arrives later,” she replied.
“Is it surprising to see a girl from the Highlands here?” she asked with a giggle.
“A little bit, I must say. I wasn’t expecting anyone to come here at this hour,” he replied.
“Well, here I am. I guess things happen when you least expect them, isn’t it?”
“Fair enough,” he said and continued as he walked towards her and offered his hand, “Hi, I’m Riz”
“Nice to meet you, Riz. I’m Rebecca”, she introduced herself and shook his hand.
“Nice to meet you too, Rebecca. I’m going to make myself a cup of coffee. Would you like one?”, Riz asked.
“That’d be nice, thanks.”
Riz walked over to the instant coffee machine and started to make two cups of coffee. He handed a cup to Rebecca and sat on a chair near her bench.
“So what else do you do Rebecca other than passing by small lonesome stations at night?” Riz inquired jokingly.
Rebecca broke into laughter and replied, “I have an interest in photography”.
“Interesting!”, Riz exclaimed. His inclination on how well colour coordinated Rebecca’s outfit was made sense now.
“What type of photos do you take?”, Riz asked.
“It depends on mood, time and space. Whatever fancies my mind! Like, I’m thinking to click a few photos of the views from the far end of the station. The silence of this night, the fog, the disappearing full moon above the deep rain forest.”
“Fascinating! Wouldn’t it scare you to go to the far end of the platform and stare outwards?”
“What’s there to be scared of? I don’t think there are wild animals here, are there?”
“Perhaps not, but there are things other than animals to be scared of.”
“Like spirits or supernatural elements.”
After a brief moment of silence Rebecca breaks into a loud laughter. Riz follows soon as they continue to laugh.
“Was that your best attempt to scare me? If so, you need to try harder,” Rebecca remarked in an assured tone.
“Is that so? Hmmm! So what scares you, Rebecca?”
“I find deception of humans scarier than the illusion of spirits,” Rebecca replied in a deep voice.
Riz asked in an arguing tonem, “Why would spirits be Illusion only?”
“Why would they be anything more than an illusion? Seeing is believing.”
“True! But sights can be deceptive. We ‘see’ a mirage in the desert and believe that there is an oasis. When we reach it we realise that there’s nothing. It was just an illusion.”
Rebecca thoughtfully commented, “You make a fair point, Sir”. Let me guess you must be a writer or philosopher?”
“Far from it. I manage investment portfolio. The only writing I do is board reports.”
“Oh! Just when I thought that there might be a different dimension to the personality of the man, you turn out to be the boring ‘professional in a suit’ type of guy.”
“Ouch! That hurts my entire professional community. How may I try to swing your opinion?”
“I don’t know, can you? Let’s see that. Take your best shot at impressing me. If I am impressed I will change my opinion,” challenged Rebecca.
“Deal,” Riz nodded his head and accepted.
After a moment of thinking, Riz continues, “I can make Rebecca fly right now”
“Wait! How? Are you planning to lift me and throw across the room?” Rebecca questioned with a puzzled smile on her face.
Riz asked Rebecca for a pen and a piece of paper. Rebecca reached for her bag and tore a page from her notebook and handed it to Riz with a pen. Riz wrote something on the paper and then began to fold the paper. He made a paper plane with Rebecca’s name written on it.
“Here you are! I’ve put Rebecca on a plane…” said Riz as he threw the plane across the room and continued, “and, Rebecca is flying.”
Rebecca tried to hide her amazement at Riz’s presence of mind but failed.
She laughed heartily and commented, “That was quite well done. I’m impressed. Although I thought for a moment that you might ‘really’ make me fly,”
“You never know! Maybe I can create such an illusion where you feel that you are flying.”
“Oh, really?” she exclaimed.
“You never know!”
Riz went on to ask Rebecca what would have been her guess on how he was going to impress her.
“ummm. I thought you might sing a song or something”
“I don’t sing. But I do listen to music, replied Riz and asked, “What sort of music do you listen to?”
“I like Country music. How about you?”
“Mostly Jazz. There’s a type of Jazz for every occasion.
“Yeah, Jazz is good. There are some good jazz and country music shows at the Riviera Music festival.”
“Yeah. I have heard about it,” Riz acknowledged.
“Are you planning to go?” sked Rebecca.
“Not sure if I can go in daytime.”
“Right! Typical corporate type! Live to work!”
“Let me guess! And, you like to live freely?” Riz reverses the conversation towards Rebecca.
“That’s right! I like being spontaneous, free-spirited and do things that feed my creativity,” she answered.
“Like?” asked Riz.
“Like, photography, for example,” she says while showing her camera.
“Nice!” he exclaims raising his thumb.
“I’m gonna go to the far end of the station and try to capture the essence of this beautiful moonlit night before dawn breaks,” said Rebecca while taking her bag and moving past Riz.
He stood up as well and couldn’t help but notice how enchanting Rebecca’s fragrance was. He felt spellbound by a sheer sense of enigma. As Rebecca stepped out of the room, Riz went back to where he was sitting. The stress from work and his medication was beginning to show their effect. He decided to close his eyes for a while.
Meanwhile Rebecca started to set her camera up and create interesting frames of the view from the station. She spent quite a long time creating the perfect frames to capture the mystifying beauty of this serene night in Rosendale. She clicked many interesting photos from different spots until the first light of dawn began to appear. The pitch black night was dissolving in an emergent glow of dawn. She ventured a bit far from the station in search of the perfect shots that illustrated the poetic scenery. Even though Rebecca had been busy taking photos, in the back of her mind was the conversation with the interesting stranger that he had met. She decided to go back to the waiting room and meet Riz again.
She walked along the pathways of the rainforest taking various snaps of trees soaked in dew.
Once she reached the waiting room she discovered that there was no one there. She walked outside the waiting room onto the platform but there was no sign of Riz. The elderly Station Master had started his morning shift after resting through the night in his cabin. Seeing Rebecca in a bit of disarray he asked if he can help her with anything. She asked him if he had seen a man in a grey coat and dark blue jeans carrying a brown satchel bag. He replied that he had not seen such a man. She mentioned to the Station Master that the man had been in the waiting room late into the night. To her utter surprise the Station Master replied that there had not been any passenger in the waiting room last night.
Rebecca couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She went onto inquire if he had seen any man board the train earlier in the morning. The Station Master assured her that there were a few passengers that got down at Rosendale from the only train that stopped by since yesterday but he had not seen any one board the train. Rebecca asked the old Station Master over and over again if he was sure. Each time he was resolute in his response. Rebecca took the Station Master to the exact spot in the waiting room where Riz was sitting. The grumpy Station Master pointed to a sign on the wall that read, “Please ring the bell for lights and other amenities while you wait in this room”. He reasoned that if anyone had come to the waiting room then he would have been called. Lastly, he added that he did not mean to rattle her but in the many years that he had lived in Rosendale station there had been mysterious myths and urban legends. He suggested that Rebecca should clear her head as such mysterious incidents had been reported before.
Rebecca sat in a corner of the waiting room trying to come to grip with reality. She began to ask herself if Riz was indeed a mirage just like his analogy. Or, was he the embodiment of a spirit looking for a medium to free itself? Or, was Riz really an illusionist who could have actually performed the illusion of making her fly? Or, was Riz a supernatural being unable to exist in broad daylight? The core of Rebecca’s beliefs and sights were at crossroads.
[Some time before the morning]
The noise from an approaching train broke the silence of the night as it came to a screeching halt at Rosendale station. The loudness of the brakes woke Riz up. As he cleared his eyes and stretched he realised that this was his train. He also realised that Rebecca had not returned to the waiting room. He put his bag over his shoulder and headed out into the platform. He wanted to speak to her again as all this time when he had his eyes closed he had been thinking of the profound effect that her presence and personality had on him. He looked all across the platform but couldn’t see any sign of Rebecca in the fading darkness. He checked the timetable on the wall to see if any other train had arrived earlier. To his surprise there had not been any other train to arrive or depart. As Riz stood flabbergasted blankly staring at the far end of the platform he couldn’t really comprehend the reality. He ran to the farthest end of the platform; far from the passenger on boarding area. He saw no signs of her.
The train started to hoot and its wheels started to move. Caught in the dilemma, he boarded the moving train from the farthest end of the platform. He sat next to the window in an empty compartment as the train sped up. He asked himself if there really was a Rebecca; celestially beautiful with eyes that could speak a thousand words with every glimpse. Was there really such a mystic smile that humbled his whole being? Did he really begin to hit it off with that enticing personality? A new question struck Riz’s bewildered mind. Was this a hallucination due to his stress and medicines?
[Meanwhile in the waiting room]
While every bit of Rebecca’s rational mind was arguing about her surreal experience, something caught her eye. In the moment of confusion and despair she looked across the room towards a corner. There it was, the white paper plane with her name written by Riz. Rebecca rushed to pick it up and her eyes began to moisten.
[At the same time in the train]
Riz was struggling to convince himself that he had a hallucination. Yet this was the most rational explanation that he could find. He needed to calm his nerves and decided to smoke. He reached for his packet of cigarettes but noticed something in his pocket. He took the object out. To Riz’s utter amazement it was the pen that Rebecca had given him. It had these words printed on it, “Riviera Music Festival, 9-10 April, Highlands. Come and live the sound of music.”
Riz gripped the pen tightly and a smile of assurance painted his face. He looked outside the window in immense joy.