It was six in the afternoon. My head was resting against the window of the train, just staring absently-minded at the scenery that moved past us at high speed. The sun was setting, just before twilight, making the sky turn to brick-orange, enveloping the whole landscape in a kind of warm blanket. The weak light cast a golden light over my skin, and for the first time that day I felt relaxed and at peace.
The people in the train were silent, the fatigue of the long working day getting to them. The only sound- which was rather soothing - come from the steady rhythm of the turning wheels of the train.
Summer was sitting beside me, but on the contrary of my calm and relaxed demeanour, she was rather agitated, always moving and fidgeting with something. I didn’t mind it though, it was a constant reminder that she was there, even when we weren’t talking.
“I feel like I have been stuck on this train for days,” she complained, “When are we arriving?”
“It can’t be much longer,” I replied.
“But the sun is almost setting...” she huffed and crossed her arms “I’m bored out of my mind!”
I sat up, in a way that I was facing her “Want to play a game then?”
She shrugged her shoulders, not very enthusiastic about this game “And what do you suggest?”
“Remember that game we played in the library? That game where I asked you a question and you asked one yourself and so on?”
“Oh, that game...” She turned sideways to face me completely, her right arm resting on the top of the cushioned seat, her hand supporting her head “That game where you asked me if I had ever kissed anyone.”
I looked down in embarrassment “I confess it was not the best way to approach the matter, but I was very very curious.”
“Was it really out of curiosity? My gut feeling says it was out of jealousy...”
“Let’s just start this game,” I deflected in the most obvious way, earning a genuine laugh from her. “You start.”
She paused, a grin on her face “Why did you ask me if I had kissed someone?”
“Okay, okay! I won’t ask that again,” she had a twinkle in her eyes and she covered her mouth, holding back laughter “Okay, let me see... If you could go back to Hudson and punch one person square in the face, who would you choose and why?”
I laughed “Only one?!”
“I know you would punch everyone if you could. I’m narrowing it down or we will get to Tilbury and you’ll be halfway through the list.” Summer chuckled, making this topic seem really light, but deep down it was weighing on me. First, I was curious to know why she asked me that question. Didn’t she know the answer, or at least have a slight idea? What was even the point in asking that question? I bet she didn’t intend to make me relive all the bad moments I had spent in that boarding school, but her incentive to take me back to those days made me remember everything that I wanted to forget.
Involuntarily, all the faces of the people that I had ever interacted in that school crossed my mind. Hansen, the amazing Nurse Marion, Amanda and Anthony, John, Zach, Andrew, Anna, those two guys who shamelessly talked about Summer in the most repulsive way...
“So, who would you punch?” she looked at me with curious eyes, her eyelids blinking so close to my face.
“Myself,” I muttered almost instantly, in a low voice.
Summer’s eyebrows knitted almost instantly together as she moved and inch backwards in surprise “Why?”
“Because I spent a great deal of my time hating people instead of loving you.”
She just stared at me, breathing, listening.
“If I could go back I would have punched myself so that I could have snapped out it and concentrate on what was really important-”
Summer didn’t even let me finish my sentence, her lips connecting with mine in a heartbeat. I didn’t even see it coming, it just happened suddenly; one moment I was talking, and the next she was kissing me.
I didn’t feel the need to break the kiss to ask why she was doing so; I knew why. It was like her words were travelling through her lips, her intentions crystal clear. She was trying to get that idea out of my head, that idea of regret. She kissed me deeply, trying to suppress those thoughts.
Her hands travelled to my hair, tugging at the roots, pulling me closer. I could feel her desperation in trying to prove that I didn’t need to go back in time and make amends, or spend my time in thinking what I could have done better.
The only way I could respond to her reaction was to kiss her back just as purposely, enveloping us in a bubble of our own. The love and gratefulness I felt for her in that very moment made my heart feel like it was going to burst. Kissing her and pulling her the small of her back closer wasn’t enough, it was tortuously not enough.
Someone coughed in the carriage, the sound echoing and landing in both our ears, resonating there. Summer, understanding immediately what that meant, disconnected out lips just inches, letting out a soft chuckle, her eyes screw shut in embarrassment.
“They aren’t enjoying the show,” I muttered, glancing around the carriage, the passengers obviously avoiding looking at us.
“It’s not the right time or place, I’ll admit,” Summer added, not daring to look around.
I glanced around once more. I noticed a man in a grey suit hiding behind his newspaper as he took a curious look at us. As if he had never seen two people kiss before “Maybe another time...”
“Let’s continue our game them,” Summer was a safe distance away from me now “It’s your turn.”
“Great,” I said. I knew exactly what I wanted to ask, but I was afraid she would interpret it wrong or even upset her. The truth was, I was dying to know her past, to know why she was so carefree next to Homeless Jeffrey Abbot. I wanted to know her surely dark past, but I was afraid to be too intrusive. I had to choose my words carefully.
“When we were back in the abandoned house, with Jeffrey that is, you were very relaxed around him... That reminded me of that day when we were behind the gym building and you told me about your life before Hudson. Do you remember that day?”
“You wouldn’t believe how clearly I remember it... But your question is...?”
“My question is, if you want to tell me of course, was there anything you didn’t tell me that day that I should know?”
She frowned “I’m not sure I understand that question.”
I chuckled “Yeah, it doesn’t make much sense to me either, but basically what I’m trying to say is that that interaction you had with Jeffrey made me uneasy, uncomfortable really. Like, he is nothing like you, and you are nothing like him, yet you interacted to casually, as if-”
“As if we were equal,” she finished my sentence for me.
“Yes. So, what I want to know is, did you, at some point in your life, have a life like his?”
The question didn’t seem to startle or confuse her. She didn’t even as much as blink. Summer took a deep breath after staring at me for a couple of seconds, bowing her head.
“I understand why you’re asking me that. I mean, you are used to seeing me inside Hudson, that is basically a castle, and we were so protected from everything around us that you didn’t get to see this part of me, the real me. I felt completely out of place there, and you know it, but independently of that, that version of me is the only you know...”
“Everything I told you about my past was true and even though I didn’t go into much detail I told you everything Harry. I was never in the situation Jeffrey is in, I had a house of my own and my parents had jobs, even though they were absolute shit. I did, however, live in a neighbourhood where many people like Jeffrey lived, and I used to play in the streets with children who had no home, that’s all. Did that answer your question?”
I was silent. I didn’t know what to say exactly “Yes, I guess. It’s just that it’s very strange to see you act this way.”
“You know it’s still the same me, don’t you? Just different circumstances.”
“I just want to know all of you, that’s all.”
That was when the locomotive started to slow down. I looked out the window, the sky already dark, and saw the lights of the much bigger station approaching. Finally we had reached Tilbury station.