Fiction

2018

When You Find Heaven

By Dana Dykiel
Acton-Boxborough Regional High School. Class of 2018.

You will be weary of traveling. When you blink your eyes you feel them burning with the weak
acid of insomnia; the smell of your skin, old and tired but not sweating, fills your nostrils in a
cloud. You breathe through your mouth and feel the air weigh in your lungs, then exhale with a
rasp. You have become welded to the seat, against the staunch red plastic, and your legs have
begun to feel like metal melting which now hardens, congealed. When the train stops moving
your torso pitches forwards, then settles back.
The doors slide through the rust, creaking. There is no voice on the intercom, no
conductor to usher you out. You are the last passenger.
Dead leaves crunch underfoot as you step from the platform. The air in the woods is
fresh, steel-gray with particles of stone and the afterscent of evaporated dew. The clear light of
the forest is shot through with gold and silver, and as you hold your hands into the light, you
half-expect to feel it run through your fingers. The path stretches, broad and open, on either side
of you. You could walk along the path; but you don’t know where it goes, what direction to take,
and there is nowhere you would rather be than here.
You sit in front of the train tracks, resting with the weight of iron and inert wheels. To
your left is a line of statues, and you recognize their faces in the recess of your memory. They
are the people who are most important to you, the people you never met. Masters of old, who
built your philosophy of life; relatives who died before your birth, whose stories you carried with
you. Each sits neatly in front of their vehicle: an old car with large hubcaps, the porous-white
remains of a horse’s skeleton, a rotten cart with canvas bags of spices.
In time, you too will turn to stone. Your fingers will sink into the earth and become
leaden, curling with vines and crawling with bugs. The harsh edges of your face will be softened
with moss, smoothed with time, and your eyelids will close over sightless globes. Your passing
will be peaceful, like sleep; your immortality will live beyond your life, at this path in the woods
where the train tracks end.
In the future, a traveler will come. They will come on a hovercraft, humming a quiet
neon, which will stop besides the decrepit train. They will land lightly on the ground, the leaves
welcoming them with the same crunch they welcomed you. They, too, will regard the path and
decide they are content; they will sit beside you, your hand cold against their human skin.
They will be your protégée, perhaps your relative, perhaps a distant apprentice; they will
have learned from you and grown from you, and they, too, will find their peace, their hovercraft

falling into disrepair. The next traveler will come from farther in the future, on a vessel too
advanced to envision, and the cycle will repeat once again.
As for now, you stand on the cusp of time. While your fingers grow cold and your eyes
grow heavy, you see into the past and into the future; you are cradled by the souls of the
statues beside you, and you know that one day, you will become the strand of a spider’s web, to
cradle the soul of another.