I sat listening to the sound of the train as it moved down the tracks, taking me closer to the place that I swore to never return. The clickety-clack of the train sends me into a trance, as I think back to the last time I was on a train, escaping from a place I swore to never to return to, under any circumstances.
I had not even taken time to pack a bag, but simply ran out of the door with only what I wore on my back. I grabbed what money I could out of the back pocket of my tormentor’s jeans.
With as much energy as I could muster after such a beating, I hustled down the path, determined to catch the 10:50 locomotive to Chicago. I knew that if he caught me, I would die. He had promised on many occasions that if I tried to run, he would come looking for me, and no matter how far I ran, he would keep searching until he found me. I believed him.
I barely made the train, and when the conductor asked for my luggage, I told him that I had none. He looked at me funny, and then, as if a light went on in his head, he smiled and said, “Don’t worry. We won’t let nobody take you off this train.” I found my seat, and making myself as comfortable as I could, I went to sleep to the music of the rails.
For the last 25 years, I have worked hard to not be found, moving every few years, as people got too close and started to ask questions of my past. Then, I met Jake, and his love and gentleness touched my heart and I finally stayed in one place.
He never asked any questions about my past. I once wanted to know why, and he told me that I was so skittish when I heard raised voices that he knew that I had been hurt something fierce. He also said that when the time came that I knew I could trust him with my heart, I would also trust him with my secrets.
That day came, and as he listened to the pain and suffering that poured out of my soul, he cried. He held me close and promised that he would never hit me and that he would always keep me safe. I believed him, and for all of the years we were together, he kept the first promise. Then, he died, unable to keep the second one.
It has been Jake’s death that has caused a change in me. He missed out on so much living because of my fear. We never traveled more than 100 miles from our home, as I worried that someone from my past would see me and report back to my tormentor who still lived in my hometown.
But, now, I am returning the same way I left, on a train. And as we exit the tunnel and start across the trestle, I look out at the beauty of the trees and the river. As a child, I loved that scenery, and seeing it again brings joy and peace to my soul. I did not even notice it when I left that day.
I am returning home to take back my power. No longer will I allow my tormentor to rule my comings and goings. I plan to live my life without fear. I am not the same woman who left all those years ago. I no longer run from from troubles, but meet them head on. I have Jesus to thank for that change.
It must be true that our hearts plan our way, but God directs our steps. It is only because I believe that this is God’s will that I find myself doing the opposite of what I had promised myself. I know that I am not alone as the train pulls into the station. I am the hunted no more!
Written for Friday Fictioneers by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields of Addicted to Purple. Photograph by Dawn M. Miller.