Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing: Night Train” by Wen Zhen 文珍

2023-10-31 ☼ translations

When Song told me he wanted us to go on a trip together, somewhere far away, I agreed without much hesitation. This was after his stay in hospital, and we knew what to expect. When he said he wanted to go by train, I avoided teasing him about whether this was meant to be some kind of nostalgia trip. We quickly got everything ready, packed up our luggage, bought our tickets, and were on the train that very night. Taking the night train always feels like travelling through the dreams of strangers: each pulse of distant amber light reflected in the window is a ripple we have creased into the stillness of their lives. We went to brush our teeth, wash our faces and use the toilet before the lights were switched off for the night, and then lay in our bunks, top to tail and stiff as fish in a freezer. Listening to the rumble of carriage against rail, eyes closed to the projections flitting past the window.

Read the full story (and the Chinese original) at the Leeds Centre for New Chinese Writing Book Club.

Read more Wen Zhen stories in Nothing But the Now.