It was almost summer, late May. The stars were scattered across the blue-black sky. Smoke from our little fire billowed and stretched its way into the infinity right above the trees. We were in the back of the truck bed, on up-ended trees, on the ground. Soft country music rolled from the opened windows of the truck and lost itself quickly into the vastness of the night. Molecules always move from an area of high concentration to low concentration, filling the empty spaces.
I'd chosen a fallen tree seat and he'd chosen a seat next to me. A shallow pooling was right behind us, and we could hear the river rambling and murmuring as it stumbled over itself in a mindless rush. He held my hand and led me away from the gathering of teenagers, all talking casually, their voices mingling with the hum of the summer ground. We went up a subtle incline towards the train tracks cutting horizontally through the clearing. Then we followed the railroad and soon the ground ahead of us fell away, leaving only the tracks as a bridge with the river running under it. He stepped onto the slats, Are you sure no trains will be coming? We laughed. What would a train be doing at this time of night?
We made our way to the middle, slat by slat. I looked downward at all the water through the spaces. We sat. Our legs dangled over the sides and touched from hip to knee, our feet parallel to the water as if we were standing on air. He tousled his hair and I ran my hands through mine. We talked and laughed and the river rushed on beneath us.
Lights of cars on the canyon highway would come round the corner and cast an allusion of nearness. I kept starting-- thinking the lights were coming around the bend of the tracks themselves. He held my hand tighter and I moved in closer. We huddled for warmth and proximity amongst all the pressing space around us. A white-ish light, wider than the rest, lit up the side of the canyon wall and we both watched for the car to appear on the highway. The light loomed larger, Shit. He scrambled up and pulled me with him. We ran and I looked down to follow my feet, careful to land on one wooden board and then the next. I was afraid to trip. His feet and my feet, step step step. Finally we met solid ground and I ran into him. He hugged me, laughing. Hayley, I'm so sorry. I thought... a train...I'm sorry. The tracks were still and empty. The light, belonging to a semi-truck, now blundering it's way along the highway.
My heart was pounding and his face was flushed. We both let out our relief in laughter and I pushed him lightly on the chest, ...putting me in danger. We walked on shaky legs back towards the fire. Our breath sporadic and in time with eachother.
I imagined there really was a train. I saw it tearing around the bend, roaring and blind. It's big white light illuminating us, two deer in headlights. We would have held hands and jumped, with the unsaid understanding that we could never run fast enough. We would hit the water one after the other and the startling chill would shatter our bones as we floundered to the surface gasping for air. We would make our way to the shore. And there we'd be standing, dripping wet and cold, watching the train barrel on into the far reaches of the night.