How it works:
Write an entry of any length or style using five assigned words. Bold the five words. Tag your blog post with ’5wordchallenge’ and any other tags you wish to add. Feel free to pingback to this post or provide a link to your entry in comments.
This week’s challenge words were chosen by ME!: monochrome, stilted, affluent, trestle, anachronism
I trudged along the edge of the road, always two steps away from the gravel-and-dirt embankment that loomed next to me. It rose to twice my height as the road slowly sloped down towards the river. I knew that on top of that mound of packed earth and stone ran twin tracks – remnants from an era when travel by locomotive was the rage.
Back then, a train would have passed by this spot every hour, cars full of passengers awash with the novelty and decadance of travel by rail. Affluent couples would dine in the epitome of sophistication, their every whim attended to by waiters dressed in monochrome uniforms, while those unable to afford such an expense would whisper enviously from their coach-class seats three cars back. Young boys, playing out near the tracks after school, might have paused their game of Cowboys and Indians to watch the train pass by them in a rush of wind infused with hot metal and the clattering of many wheels.
Those gleaming steel tracks didn’t shine anymore; I had already climbed the embankment once just to check. Rusted orange-brown, it was hard now to picture them ever looking new. Like the junked engines slowly rusting away in the railroad graveyards, the railways were outmoded. Outdated. Relics too worthless to salvage and too expensive to restore. Anachronisms overlooked and ignored by the millions who daily drove their automobiles over, under, or around the railways without a second glance. Yes, that felt right – invisible anachronisms.
I knew it was so, but I knew more: I was an invisible anachronism, too. Stuck in a dead-end job in an industry that itself was on the skids, I had nothing in my professional life to look forward to for the 15-or-so years until I could even think about retiring. My strict adherence to a code of ethics and conduct that had been out of date for at least thirty years didn’t help to win me any friends, and the few times I had made an effort to hold conversations with my coworkers, everything I said came out stilted and shallow. If I disappeared this afternoon, nobody would even think to look for me. Or care. Just like the railroad tracks.
I scrambled my way back up the embankment, clawing at the slope as the loose debris sheathing the hill shifted under my boots. At the top, I clapped my hands against my jeans, brushing off the black dirt and ochre dust they had picked up in my short climb to the top of the tracks. Ahead lay the old railroad bridge, spanning the stream that in wetter months might actually grow wide enough to earn its title of “river”. Right now, however, it was only a trickle of water just barely too wide to leap across, and looked almost comical set in the middle of the wide gorge. The top of the trestle bridge stood nearly thirty feet above the water’s slow-moving surface. It looked sturdy enough to walk on, but I planned to go slowly and test my weight each step of the way. Morbid thoughts from earlier aside, I wasn’t about to help the world forget about me and my solitary existence.
No, today, I just wanted to keep walking. I might be alone, but then again, I was always alone. So for this afternoon, at least, I chose simply to embrace my solitude. Just a couple of invisible anachronisms, out in the middle of nowhere, doing nothing in particular, in the company of nobody.