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"The One Before Last" Mayano

by 半空文学賞

Enai Station used to have another platform. What is left now, however, is its lonesome ruins in the middle of overgrown grass.

I wonder how many more years this station itself will last…

“Same as always, ain’t it?” you said while going up the stairs leading to the platform.

Same as always? What is? instead of asking the question out loud, I just nodded a little. That was because… it could have been about me.

We entered the inside of Enai Station. The ticket machine, which I hadn’t touched in a while, robotically ejected a paper ticket in front of my eyes without a greeting. There is no vitality in this station, surrounding scenery, or least of all, myself as of now.

“You mean it’s become desolate, don’t ya?” I finally came up with an answer and threw it at you. Sitting down on a damp floor cushion, I realized at last that you meant this station was “same as always.” The ruins of an abandoned platform sat in front of us. The crumbling green space was hazy in the water vapor. The smell of the rain that just let up still hung around us. There was no one else but us inside the station.

This is, indeed, the kind of scenery. It never changes. This station has always been lonely, at least ever since I started using it.

“How long is it going to be around…” I was talking to myself. I couldn’t see your facial expression. Perhaps I offended you. As far as you are concerned, it is about your hometown.

However, being at this station, where human presence is rare, leveled ground is sparse, the building looks like it is about to collapse, I feel unbearably, extremely lonely. In the changing city, only at this place does time seem to have stopped, and it accepts me and pushes me away. Same as always.

Such a station like this, I would’ve never come to know without you. If it weren’t for you, I would’ve never come here over and over.

The overhead light notifies us that there is an incoming train.

We may not be able to meet again. Although I have such a premonition, I cannot say anything to you. The atmosphere of this invariant station plugs my throat.

It would not be so incredible at all should this station… you and I… vanish like the lost platform on the other side.

“I hear you.” you opened your mouth. “But I actually rather like it being that way.”

The lights of the train are approaching. It is not that I dislike this station, either. I also don’t wish for it to disappear. Rather, I agree with you. Because I like it, I don’t want it to disappear. I fear the premonition of its end, and that’s why I entrust my hope to something that never changes.

“It is the one before last, you know?” you said, standing up.

“What is?”

“You see, this station is the one before the terminal station.”

“…Counting on the in-bound side, it is the one after the first, isn’t it?” I replied.

“Ahaha! That’s right. Then it’s never the end, is it?” he laughed.

“But it’s almost the end, isn’t it?”

Why do we never have subjects in our sentences? Neither you nor I? Like we leave our existence up to others thereby abandoning our decision-making. But…

“Thanks for today. See you later!”

“Yup.”

I silently prayed towards the other side of the closing doors.

I love it, too.

So please remain forever.

The 3rd Nakazora Literary Award

"Kotoden Story Project"

OTHER SNAPS