Only days before my twenty-fifth birthday, I departed on a several-hour journey via speed train from Paris to Berlin. The train was packed with travelers who often merged in clusters of vigorous discussions like ancient Greek philosophers engaging in passionate disputes. I was an unaccompanied onlooker sitting at the very back of the train wagon witnessing the European railroad-travel experience, a unique atmosphere of multicultural and energetic vibe where unfamiliar languages, strange aromas, bizarre encounters, PDAâ€™s, and new friendships are common. Although in my past experiences I had indulged exploring this strange world, today I was disinterested of discussing politics, strangerâ€™s life stories, or the global economic meltdown with anyone. I fancied the sense of loneliness which I equated to carefully dozed poison craved by my bruised heart. I turned my head to my left and peacefully gazed over the panoramic scenery of the European landscape unfolding with every passing kilometer.
The winter chill like a thief crept through the frosty window to summon drops of condensation. The trainâ€™s rhythmic vibrations born in small cracks along the railroad gradually tempted my eyelids to roll down and seal shut my exhausted mind like the heavy rock that stands before Aladdin’s magic cave. My trance like existence was interrupted when the railroad went into a smooth westward bank, the white winter sunlight blinded my eyes and softly draped over my body like a warm blanket. The brakes screeched. Trees, colorful graffiti walls, and telephone wires slowed down to a moment in time until a complete stop at a small remote station lodged on the German-French border.
A beautiful red-haired girl boarded the train and made her way to where I was sitting. The locomotive engineer wasted no time and quickly picked up the speed as the girl struggled to remove the outer layers of her winter clothing. A gentle perfume overpowered the stale air in the cabin. I showed her no sign of acknowledgement when she chose to sit next to me ignoring several perfectly unused seats. I insisted on maintaining my sight onto the mesmerizing fast-pacing horizon. Suddenly, I was rudely disturbed when she dropped a pencil underneath my seat. As any gentleman would, I reached for the pencil and grabbed it firmly. As I was making my way up from underneath the seat, the red-haired girl and I lightly bumped into each other. The goofy accident had us laughing and jokingly dramatizing the collision again and again. She rubbed her blushed nose, spoke to me in French and paused for my response. She had asked who I was and where I was going, but I hesitated answering. She flipped her hair with an ease like swirling autumn leaves across the pavement of Champs-Ă‰lysĂ©es and glanced back at me with her emerald green eyes widen like the lenses of a sea captainâ€™s binocular. I said nothing back to her and simply leaned back in my seat. She unexpectedly put her index finger onto my lips and swiftly grabbed my earbuds from under my newspaper. She plugged the brass jack in her iPod. At this point I had been disarmed of my resistance and felt frozen and bewitched like an ice-cube drowned in Irish whiskey. The French girl placed one of the earbuds in her ear and prompted me with a candid excitement to put the other in my ear. “Melody and rhythm are internationally understood,” she exclaimed with a drop of pure excitement in her voice. She closed her eyes and spun the wheel of the tiny pink iPod and played a random song from the playlist. The song began with the volume set too high and it was unbearable. â€śItâ€™s too loudâ€ť, I yelled. She covered her silenced laughter with her porcelain hands pressing against her blushing freckled strawberry red face and her sea-green eyes smiled wide. She turned the volume down and gave me a quick kiss on my scruffy cheek. Within the first notes of the track, I knew the song and the band which was playing. It was titled Arizona and performed by The Kings of Leon. “Fantastic song,” I said while pointing at the tiny bright screen, but she ignored my remark. “Chanson fantastique”, I repeated and turned my head back to the window with sense of disappointment. She moved closer to me and then she moved even closer. Her breasts brushed against the fabric of my coat. Her warm breath kissed my ear with each beat of my heart. I slightly raised my eyes into the ample azure sky only to find an airplane piercing the winter clouds and painting two stretches of thin icy-white trails. As I was following this captivating moment and contemplating on the planeâ€™s trajectory, the first song ended and another one began. This second song though was a soft tune unfamiliar to me and yet my stomach, my heart and my soul were telling me otherwise.
“Katherine, kiss me
The song like a rusty key slowly unlocked my lips into a dreamy smile and my eyes filled up with little drops of happy sadness. I kept the tears from raining down my face and let the lyrics wonder in my mind. The red-haired girl softly turned away towards the narrow passageway where an elderly man was helping his wife to put away their luggage. The woman rested on the bench and lovingly hugged her husband. He gently brushed her hair and gave her a soft kiss on her lips. The red-haired girl leaned on my right arm, sighed in adoration, and briefly moved around like a seasoned traveler rolling her body on the cold white sheets of a hotel bed before closing her eyes to the world. In the silence I could sense a young girlâ€™s mind slipping away into a dream.
My body also gave away to the monotonous sounds of the train tadak-tadak… tadak-tadak. A tiny girl, wearing tiny ripped jeans, with tiny dreams was resting her daily troubles on my shoulder. My eyes awakened but she was gone the way blinding morning fog suddenly withdrawals its conquered kingdom to the warm air of the rising day, the way love hurts so much and suddenly hurts no more. The red-haired traveler left me with no name, no past, no future, only a little glossy corner of a flashy fashion magazine with two words written in the most elegant handwriting I had ever seen. “au revoir.â€ť