Written for NaNoWriMo 2005, Fire On The Horizon is a fantasy adventure about magic, witches, biker gangs, shadowy government agencies, love, seals, and evil druids.
Loneliness is cumulative, you save it up all your life. Everywhere you have been alone, your old houses, your walk to work, your local pub, the shop you used to buy a newspaper every morning, the station that used to be your stop. You will pass these places and the memory will only seem half there, as if it is just a shadow or a dream. A person, any person, who shares that memory, even if they are long gone, cements the moment into your mind, makes it real. Memory is designed to work with people, it can record places, things, sounds, and words if forced to, but it is far superior at remembering people. Any memory of a person is a snapshot, the person holds it there like an anchor, dragging the background detail, the scenery, the soundtrack, back into focus.
You will pass these places, where you shared no experience with no other person, and your time there, now ended, will seem somehow unreal, as if the past is less another country but another world far far off. You will wonder where all that time went. Every day I got off the train at St. Margarets, and now it is gone, seemingly without trace, the only one who remembers those days is me. You will wonder how you got from there to here. Your path through time seems fleeting, you barely seem to have touched the ground, disturbed the surface. You are traveling at breakneck speed towards the grave leaving no trace of your presence in your wake - leaving no wake.
I had not thought the girl was all that attractive at first. She was reading a manuscript of some sort which had caught my interest simply because it was unusual, but it was probably just some work document. I suppose there was nothing wrong with her, she was young, slim, and good looking enough, but there was something about her, some sense of attitude I could not put my finger on. Perhaps it was just her choice of clothes, tight jeans and a black polo neck, perhaps those thick rimmed lesbarian glasses, perhaps simply something in the way she held herself, flipping disdainfully though the pages of her reading matter, or perhaps something else entirely, but she exuded to me an attitude of self conscious cool, of stuck-up, pretentious, pompous, snobbery.
I opened my novel but did not read a word, I looked out of the window and thought about all the times I had taken this train. All those years gone now.
And then she spoke. Her phone rang and she answered it. And she bubbled, she cooed delightfully and excitedly, she laughed playfully. In a second that veneer of austerity I had assumed, vanished, and all there was beneath was an open, honest, natural person full of vigour and life. And I, I was snapped right out of my wistful musings back to the present. While she engrossed herself in her phone-call I could not help but stare. There was magic in her voice, and I was in love.
Oh this is not entirely unlike me, this sudden obsession. There is a tendency to become maudlin on trains. A public carriage is an isolating and solitary place, and an ache for companionship will sometimes rise. I have a track record of daydreaming and daydreams are dangerous to the lonely man. In a second you can imagine a life with any person, sitting there, perhaps idly watching their reflection in the window, you picture yourself next to them, talking and sharing the journey, sometimes you picture more. I pictured myself going home with this girl, I pictured myself making her breakfast the next morning, I pictured breakfast every morning, I pictured marriage and children and growing old together, all in seconds, all chimed into existence at the call of her voice.
What did I do? I did nothing.