Home (noun): an environment offering affection and security
“Excuse me, Miss,” he said politely. He had a characteristically sluggish voice, like he had just woken up and his mouth was still dull and heavy. “Has the train arrived yet?”
She turned around to find a tall, not so good looking twenty something male stood beside her. He was so tall, but he held that fact so gracefully she found it somewhat attractive. If she wasn’t so preoccupied with the fact that she was about to head home to Toyohashi, she would consider asking his name.
“If the train has arrived, why would I stand here?” she replied sarcastically, peeling off her eyes from him.
He smiled, as though he wasn’t offended at all by the way she spoke to him. “Thank you for the information.”
She dismissed him with a glance, but something about him made her held back. Maybe it was the easy air that surrounded him. Maybe it was the way he gingerly folded his long limbs as he took a seat by her side as the train finally left the station. She wasn’t so sure. Yet.
She sighed heavily as she leaned over towards the window, trying her best not to steal another glance at him. He seemed to notice the burden she was carrying, but said nothing.
“Want some?” he asked, extending his arm towards her. He was offering her a bag full of colorful candy. Which she found very amusing, because he actually reminded her of a bag of sweets.
“Not a big fan of sugary stuff, but thanks,” she said. This time, she decided to lose her sarcastic tone. It wasn’t his fault that going home was such a difficult thing to do for her. He didn’t deserve to be her punchbag.
“Must be good to finally go home after such a long, tiring day,” he said as he chewed his candy. The air was suddenly filled with strawberry fragrance.
Home. Why did it sound so alien in her ear? Every time she pictured home, she was constantly reminded of an endless ennui. Home was a place where she was rejected for being who she was. Home was a place where everyone looked at her with obvious disrespect in their eyes as they whispered ‘failure’ wherever she went. Home was a place where she was forced to be who her mother wanted to be and she had no chance to say ‘no’ because it would only make her mother screamed in agony about how much pain she had caused her.
“The notion of what home actually is makes me nauseous,” she suddenly said. “It’s an overstatement when people say that home offers you safety and warmth. If you want safety, go live in the police station. If you want warmth, well just turn on the heater.”
He turned around to face her and smiled. He had no reason to be nice to her after the way she’d treated him, but he didn’t hold it against him. “I take it you haven’t found your home yet.”
She laughed bitterly. “Home is where I have to be what my mother decides me to be. It feels as though I’m living two lives, where in one life I am her puppet, and where in the other life I’m a struggling actress. Ironically, I actually never stop acting in both lives. Come to think about it, my life is a sad, pathetic movie where I never fit in.”
“Well,” he said, putting another piece of candy in his mouth. “I know I’m not exactly in a place to say ‘don’t say that’, but since there is no elegant way to put it, I will still say it. So, don’t say that. Don’t think less about yourself.”
She scoffed. “It’s easy for you to say that,” she retorted. “You’re not in my shoes.”
“I know,” he replied softly. “But I happen to know that most people make home in another place, too. You can always shift the notion of home, you know. You might not be able to change what people think about you, but you can always change the way you see your life. It’s your life. Stop thinking that you’re bothering the person next to you.”
As he finished his sentence, the train came into a stop. She had arrived in her initial destination, but somehow she didn’t want to leave just yet because in an instant, the notion of home for her had shifted.
“You’re getting off here?” he asked as he prepared to make a way for her.
She couldn’t miss this one out.
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “I’m not home yet.”