As Francis boarded the train on December 23rd, 2016, he recalled the 254 other times he boarded the train to go home from work this year. That number is out of the 261 working days that are to make up this fine year in total. Francis will board this 5:42 PM train traveling from Strafford to Suburban station 3 more times in 2016, bringing his own personal total to 257 times boarding the train in this year. Once Francis stayed home sick – a headache, no more, and yes he was sure he would be able to make it in on Tuesday. Twice he played hooky – both times resulting in feelings of indifference mixed with guilt. This gives us 260 working days accounted for in this two-thousand and sixteenth year.
On working day 261 of 261 (258 of 261, for our story’s hero), Francis approaches his usual post at the far end of the train platform. Francis habitually chooses the back of the train so that he can watch as distance grows between where he was and where he is going through the train’s back window, and although this is the same growing distance day out and day out, the stasis feels like a change; on a short enough timeline, it is. Sometimes Francis imagines that he sees himself still standing on the platform as his train pulls away – growing smaller and smaller until he disappears completely. Left to find a new way home from work, or a new place to call home, if even for a night.
On working day 261 of 261 of 2016, Francis decides that he does not want to watch the train tracks speeding out from under him at the back of the train. He stands at his usual post at the far end of the train platform, and when the train speeds to its stop, Francis stays true to his anticipated change in pattern: he frees himself from his chosen constraints, and jumps to the foremost spot on the train’s exterior, excited to see what it even matters and to whom.