Checked the phone again, no notification. Turned the volume up and down in the indecision of isolating herself from the world or paying attention to the conversation that was happening in the front seat. “What if there was a parallel universe where Nickelback is better than Pearl Jam?” “Impossible! Not even the dumbest of humans in a parallel universe would listen to Nickelback by choice.” Better turn the volume up.

She was heading north, without a clear destination, only the false certainty that one finds herself in when getting lost, as that motivational poster of a dog chasing its tail goes. At the abandoned and bucolic train station, the waiting is accompanied by distant glances that never cross, in a dance between lack of interest and fear of any unnecessary interpersonal contact.

On her last trip, she went to places so ordinary that left her with the feeling that she had already been there. She found more questions than answers about why life is the way it is but realizing that people float through life without much idea of what they are doing is what most warmed her heart.

The comfort of the train is an invitation to give up to the tired eyes. Falling asleep, she remembered when she was 12 and tried to escape the world by diving into the sad tunes of old songs, hidden in the backseat of the Old Mustang in the driveway, dreaming of a less lonely existence.

She felt like a stranger in her own life, a spectator of a low-budget film. In this real-life movie, the person she loved the most was her sister. Melissa was the most incredible person she knew, had a unique style, listened to songs that no one listened to and had always the best confused stories of nights out that she did not remember very well. She knew all the old bands and had a sharp ear to recognise cool new bands, she could speak for hours about the impact of Led Zeppelin in the way we listen to music today, theorise about the obsession with Kurt Cobain who was not even all that and defend with all her strength that Sex Pistols was the fakest boy band that punk rock has ever seen. Despite being her twin, Melissa was the complete opposite of her — the security of being everything she wanted to be made her look prettier as if confidence were the movies makeover — it wasn’t a makeup or a well-brushed hair, it was the confidence of just being. Melissa was Tyler Durden of her low-budget film and she was fully aware of it.

The sudden whistle of the train shuffled daydreaming and reality, was her really real? She touched her dry skin to make sure she wasn’t a product of imagination, caught in a delirium. Someone was walking on the rails, almost being hit by the locomotive. She looked out of the window to seek the eyes of the wanderer fallen on the fall leaves of the ravine. In that encounter of confused faces, she tried to imagine the destination of that girl, what were her aspirations? Was she just wandering? What books did she read? Was she a damsel in distress from a romance? Maybe a bitter villain with a difficult childhood who would justify her acts?

She has the habit of thinking too much about everything, searching for hidden meanings and coming up with dull conclusions about headline protagonists in the news — always wondering about the outcome of support characters on stories, in an unconscious quest to find herself on it.

She had lost herself in a thought spiral again and realized that she lived more in them than out. Through the window, the landscape was mixed as if a paint scraper had dragged the colours into two blurred blocks by the speed and glass. Time goes by differently on a long journey like this, that pile of metal on rails carrying bodies of flesh and dreams moves too fast for some and too slow for others. It all depends on their final destination.

The music app plays Jethro Tull’s Locomotive Breath and she smiles with her hair against the window.

Originally in Portuguese at boashistorias.com/viajante-sem-rumo

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