On a train from Kyiv to Lviv

I forget one thing about trains, but as soon as enter the cabin the thing catches me by surprise.

Anton Kutselyk

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A train starts off, slowly, but with confidence, it secures the necessary speed — which plateaus at around 150 km/h. From slow to fast, in a matter of minutes. Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi railway station is a rifle, and a few moments ago, a huge grey bullet carrying me inside left its barrel — it flies, fast, in the direction of the next station. Upon reaching it, the bullet will stop and repeat the cycle. This way it moves — a journey of interchanging beginnings and endings.

A train is…slow and a train is fast — it’s hours of thrilling fastness that run by like seconds, and minutes of excruciating slowness that go on forever.

While the train was still still, I had the pleasure of looking at a cat. It was a cute, white, furry cat, and it was trying to get out of its cat bag. A naughty child is eager to explore a new space. Then, the cat’s mama moved to a seat by a window and dragged her feline out of my sight.

Now, when we’re on the move, another cat sits right in front of me. The cat is also a human. The cat is also a boy. He’s as cute as the cat that preceded him, only he’s black-haired, not furry, and his mama is absent. The boy is escorted by two girlfriends. The boy looks pretty and young. I’m young too, but he must be very young. A student, perhaps, five years younger than me.

It’s hard not to stare at the boy’s face. His big blue eyes give me infrequent and intense glances. He tries to look through me or at something behind my shoulder, but I know he looks at me. Do I look like a cat too? Under the eyes, on his cheeks, he has these saggy skin lines that only ailingly-thin people have. Sometimes I carry those lines as well — when I’m chronically stressed and underweight. I have them now. Wait… AM I CHRONICALLY STRESSED??? Oh, yes, I am, actually.

Okay. Not okay. Oh, well. Not well. Anyway.

Back to the boy.

His lips are rigidly shut most of the time. Sometimes he shoots a quirky smile at everyone around him and at no one in particular — the kind of smile you wear only when you’re aware that people are watching you, and you have to perform the…

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Anton Kutselyk

I live in Kyiv and write about war, peace, books and coffee.