“Some birds sing when the sun shines bright. Our praise is not for them, but for those who sing in the dead of night. We raise our cups to them.”
Suyin plopped herself down by the train’s windowsill, gazing out the reflective glass to see shimmers of rain falling down from the clouds. From the right angle, she could almost see her own reflection in the window, right above the bronze colored wood. Sighing, she stared out at the rain as it poured like a paint dripping down a canvas onto the streets of Ophirie. Signs blew in the wind, the rain wearing them down. Suyin smiled. She would miss these gloomy days.
Of course, she loved the shining sun over the mountain tops in the countryside, and the bright summer days in Ophirie, but she still identified the city she had grown up in with its rain, sharp and bitter against the pale glass of the window.
She was on the train to find herself a new life, somewhere far away. With her, she brought only a medium sized bag full of essentials - clothes, food, money, her little harmonica. Everything she’d need. The train was quiet, full of sharp movement, but not a soul dared speak. They all knew where they were going, and they all wanted that new life.
Abruptly, the train came to a halt, swerving into a stop by a nearby airport. A few people stepped off, leaving Suyin with only one other person left, right across from her. She had no idea about the other compartments, but this one was almost completely empty.
Suyin stared into the woman’s eyes, noting their sharp blue color. Just as reflective as the glass she had previously been looking through. Her hair was cut short, around her neck. She looked quite professional, like she had no business on a train leaving the country.
“Hello,” the woman spoke, her voice sweet and kind. “Where are you going?”
Suyin shrugged. “I’m not sure yet, ma’am,” she said, trying to be as polite as possible. The woman was quite a bit older than her, with her wrinkled forehead and soft voice. Suyin was just barely an adult, around nineteen.
Still a child.
The woman laughed, her voice still sweet as honey. “Oh, darling, you don’t have to be so polite. Call me Rui.” She paused here, her voice cutting out. Softly, with a hint of bitterness, she spoke again. “Or Flora, now. I think I like that name.”
“It’s very nice, ma’am.” Suyin looked out the window again. Changing her name wasn’t something she was looking forward to. She liked her name. It was the name her parents gave her, the name she had grown up hearing. It was her name, and no one else’s.
She wouldn’t change it for the world. And yet, to live her new life, she had to.
“What’s your name, honey?” Rui - or Flora, she supposed - asked. Suyin sighed. She didn’t want to admit how little she had planned out for this venture.
“It’s Suyin,” she said, stating the name her parents had given her. The name she wanted to keep.
The woman laughed. “Do you plan on keeping it? Y’know, it’ll be hard to have a name that doesn’t work in other languages.”
Suyin nodded, then shook her head. “I like it,” she said, wondering how to finish her sentence. “But, I don’t want to cause more troubles for myself.”
The woman nodded knowingly. “Ophirie is a hard city to leave, y’know.”
Suyin nodded, peering out the window again, as they passed by her favorite bridge. She wondered where she’d end up going - wherever was cheapest, she supposed, and then onwards from there if she didn’t like it. But nowhere would have the Ophirie Bridge, and the beautiful sunset shining just below it, as the day turned to dusk. Of course, now the bridge was dark and bitter, the rain thumping down on the water as the water wavered around the bay.
Ophirie was a port town, known for its seafood and fresh catches. Boats were always coming in from the neighboring cities to bring imports, though with the current economy, few were leaving with outports. Taxes were getting higher and higher to pay for sustainability, and the beautiful port was now the only thing left keeping people intrigued in the city.
But beauty isn’t always sustainable.
Suyin never liked the port when it was sunny. She liked it just like it was right now - raining and storming in the seas, where she could wait for better days to come. Sun was a spark of goodness, and goodness never lasts. But the mountains just outside of the city, and the streets full of signs and seafood carts were just wonderful in the sun. She loved watching the sun set over the Ophirie Bridge from the roof of her tiny apartment, watching the days turn to night from the outside. It was what made Ophirie worth living in.
“Flora,” she started, staring at the woman. “Flora. That’s a pretty name.”
Flora smiled. “I chose it for my city,” she said, indicating at the bridge in the distance. “Flora is what they call flowers in the south, and Ophirie is a tinted rose.”
Suyin nodded, thinking about that. She loved Ophirie, but she wanted a fresh start. A new place to live, a new life, even if she wanted the same name. Choosing a name that would tie her permanently to her city would just be a struggle. Painfully, she expressed this to Flora.
Flora nodded. “I suppose,” she said, her eyes glowing as the shimmers of rain began to fade away. “But that’s really up to you, honey.”
Suyin nodded. Flora nodded along. All that was left was silence in between, as they stared out the window. A good minute or so passed, with no sounds heard but the blinking of an eye and the droplets of rain growing slower. Finally, Suyin broke the silence.
“Where do you plan on going?” she asked, her eyes bright with curiosity. Flora grinned. “Oh!,” she exclaimed excitedly. “I’m travelling to Ivul. My sister’s meeting me there with her children.”
“That sounds nice.” Suyin fiddled with her hair, thinking about how wealthy a city Ivul was. Flora must have some serious money if she could afford to go there. Maybe she wasn’t such a kindred spirit after all. “I’ve always wanted to visit Ivul.”
That was true. Ivul was just beyond the mountains, in flat ground. It was a hybrid of all cultures, full of all sorts of people. Exactly the sort of place Suyin would want to move to. But alas, she didn’t have the money or experience to get a job there. She’d be better off at another port town.
Flora smiled again, her eyes growing wide. “Where are you going?”
Suyin frowned. “I already told you,” she started, getting a little annoyed. “I don’t know yet.”
Another faint smile came across Flora’s face. “Yes,” she said. “But where do you want to go?”
The word slipped right through her mouth, without a second to spare. Craita was a city of cultures, just like Ivul, but it was an artistic hub, too, known for its great musicians and painters. Suyin would die to be one of them. She had left her violin back at home, but she brought a small harmonica with her in her bag, hoping she could at least make some side money playing.
Well, not home anymore.
“Ah,” Flora said, her smile fading. “Sounds like you do know where you want to go.”
Suyin frowned again. “I don’t have the money,’ she explained. “I can’t afford to make it as a musician. I don’t even have my violin.”
Suyin used to busk along the Ophirie Bridge when it was sunny. Only when she had the time away from her factory job. Even that she was too young for.
Flora reached towards her own suitcase under her seat. Suyin frowned again, wondering what she was doing. Was she getting money? Of course, Suyin wouldn’t accept it. Poor lady needed all she could get if she was planning on making it to Ivul.
Out of her bag, Flora produced a small case. Smiling, she handed it over to Suyin. “Play for me,” she said. “Play for me. A song from Ophirie. I want to hear my city once more before I leave it.”
Suyin nodded, surprised. This wasn’t what she had expected, but she was pleased. Flora seemed nice, and she’d like for the last time she’d ever play in Ophirie to be on the train, the same one that had brought her there back when her mother was moving from Craita all those years ago.
That was the other reason why she wanted to move to Craita - it was her mother’s hometown. The city she was born in, the city from her first ever memory. A memory of a violinist on the street soothing her loud cries.
She was only two at the time, but she still remembered that violinist to that day. She didn’t think anything of it, but when it was time to pick instruments to play, she remembered that street musician, and chose the violin. Of course, money always was getting tight in Ophirie and she had to quit, but she never stopped playing.
Quietly, Suyin picked up the violin, noticing it’s interesting adornment. It had fancily cut f holes and a little pattern of flowers along the sides. Ophiries, she realized. She brought the bow up to her chin and placed it down, making a light tap. The same light taps of the rain they had heard by the bridge. Slowly, she began to play, letting the music flow. Notes slurred together, rhythms came into harmony. Gradually, a distinct sound began to appear through her song - the sound of the bells in the old Ophirie tower, the pitter patter of the rain on the water, the beautiful flourishes of the train station at night.
It was Ophirie in a song.
Flora smiled as she played, her eyes growing wider and wider again. “You keep playing, Suyin,” she said, as the train came to a sudden halt once more. They had finally reached the last stop after crossing the bridge. “I’m switching trains now.”
Suyin sighed. “I can’t,” she said, sorrowfully. “I sold my violin to pay for my ticket.”
“Then keep mine. I can’t play anyway. It was a gift for my sister.” Flora pushed over the case, indicating for her to put the instrument away.
Suyin gasped. “I-I can’t do that,” she expressed, her voice stuttering. “It’s so beautiful!”
Flora laughed. “Suyin, I believe in you. Spend every last drop of your money to go to Craita - and don’t look at me like that, I know it’ll take every last drop.” She paused here, staring into Suyin’s eyes. “But you can play. You can make it there, I know you can.”
Suyin nodded, thanking Flora as she put the violin back into its case and onto her back, holding her bag in her other arm. The train started ringing to let them off, as a few people left from the other compartments.
“I will,’ Suyin said, realizing it was something she never would have said before. Not in the past year, not ever. “I definitely will.” The two both stepped off the train, their final exit from Ophirie. It would be a moment to remember in both of their lives, even if they would likely never see each other again.
Flora smiled. “Good,” she said. “And Suyin,” she turned around in the busy train station, touching Suyin by the shoulder. “I think you have a lovely name. It’ll do well in Craita.”
For the first time since the beginning of the train ride, Suyin smiled. “Actually,” she said, before turning away to never see Flora again. “I was thinking of changing it to Ophelia. For Ophirie.”
Flora nodded. “Ophelia. I like that.”
She let go of Suyin’s shoulder, and turned away. “Good luck, Ophelia,” she shouted out from the crowd. Suyin smiled again, walking away from her beloved Ophirie with joy, not sadness. She was Ophelia now. She had a fresh start.