She was introverted and sat in silent isolation waiting for the train to pull into the station. It was November, the harvest completed. Her family was traveling to North Dakota to visit relatives. She expected possible suitors would also be waiting to meet her acquaintance. She had mingled with the English before, but she had never felt the curious prying eyes of others as she did tonight. The fog, suspended in the icy air, seemed to magnify her inner thoughts and she felt exposed, afraid her family would see her true self, realizing she was detached, lost.
As the train began to move, she was preoccupied with thoughts about the English travelers. How did the English live in a world of choices? Alone, but not shunned. Decisions made without the fear of moral and spiritual retribution. The ability to live where and how they wanted, to love who they wanted or to not love at all. While the cabin warmed, she looked forward to the freedom long, deep sleep provided. To dream, explore and travel beyond this simple life. Sleep would come soon enough, but first she must complete her daily prayers.
She couldn’t explain it, but she sensed him before she saw him. A man she had not noticed at the station was seated one row over. As she turned towards him, she could see he was observing them, curious, but not like the others who intruded. His black clothing briefly confused her thoughts, could he be Amish? But as she looked closer, she saw the signs and trappings of the English from his backpack he was rummaging through, phone, torn jeans and camera.
Through a series of long glances, she noticed he was focused on his camera. Something about the camera glowed and he was giving it his full attention. At moments he would thoughtfully smile and other times slightly shaking his head, deep in thought. As he moved in his seat, she could see that the glow was not a light, but pictures. He took them with him, these images, these scenes, these people he had captured. He was not alone. She’d been warned to look away from those who chose to try and take their images. But she was curious.
Sleep slowly overtook her thoughts. She disappeared into the night world she had been waiting for. Sleep, where her soul, set free, raced to unexplainable places of color and light. After several hours, she awoke to the sight of the man staring at her Father through his camera. Her Father, lost to sleep, unable to guard his image, would now be taking up residence in the English man’s camera. Traveling through time and space, occupying places he would never know. Like a ticket off this train, into a different reality. A journey she so desperately wanted to take.
As she got up to stretch her legs, she observed the man rising out of his seat. Father also noticed. Father stared at the man and then at her. She knew he would be watching, chaperoning her every move. As she glanced back at her Father, she was startled to be looking into the man’s eyes. He was close enough to see her body tremble and hear her breath catch. The moment, to her, seemed never ending. Unsettled, her simple thoughts clouded by his complex spirit and energy. Without talking, he made the simplest of all gestures, he winked. Returning the silent compliment, she gave the smallest of smiles.
They had reached their destination and it was time to leave her thoughts of doubt and insecurity on the train. She realized while gathering her belongings, the man was gone. The English were always in a hurry. The crowd was guiding her toward the door. When she was ready to step off the train, she looked out into the station, he was there. No one saw her, but him. She could not see his eyes for he was looking at her through his camera. Knowing how he would carry this image of her out into the world, she opened her heart and surrendered to the moment. Her silent plea to be seen, answered.
The only witness to her soulful moment, the enigmatic man, the Imagemaker.