Monday, February 25, 2013

train // a short story

The chill wakes me at midnight, frigid air nipping at the only part of me that isn't covered by the bed covers; my nose. Ann forgot to close the window, I think, wishing that my sister's fresh-air cravings would limit themselves to summertime.
Of course, now that I've woken enough to notice the cold, I can't ignore it. Ann slumbers peacefully beside me, her breathing even and slow, but no matter how deep I burrow under our down comforter, I can't seem to get warm. The curtains flutter in the winter breeze, and I imagine icicles forming on the handles of our dresser; snow blowing in through the window and settling gently on every surface, the gleam of trophies on the desk masked in a blanket of silent fluff.
The night is perfectly quiet. Lonely. Black. The phrase "dead silent" comes to mind, and I shiver, though not from cold. I suppose reading Agatha Christie murder mysteries right before bed wasn't such a great idea, because instead of being sweet and soothing, the night feels like an enemy.
A hollow wail slices through my reverie, riding on the wind like a high flute melody. It slips in through the window and seems to curl, the echo settling for a moment in the heart of my bedroom, before fading away to nothingness.
I lie absolutely still, mind racing with dozens of possibilities.

Shuk-cha, shuk-cha, shuk-cha

The anguished cry cuts through the silence again, and I sit up in bed. It's only a train. Only a train.
Shuk-cha, shuk-cha, shuk-cha
Just a lonely train, winding its way through a dark, lonely night. I wonder how many other nights this train has traveled, how many more await it in the future. And suddenly I feel the need to see this train, to know that it is not alone tonight; and neither am I.
I slip out of bed, leaving my warm nest beside Ann, and step barefoot onto the icy wood floor. A freezing cold breeze slaps me in the face, and I shudder as goose-bumps rise on my arms and back. In two quick steps I've crossed the room and parted the curtains, leaning half-out of the window in order to see the tracks about a mile from our house.
A beam of golden light cuts through the black countryside like a knife, and I can hear the echoing thud and whirr that mean the train is rounding the corner, about to come into view.
The curtains whip into a frenzy, dancing beside me as the wind picks up, and I give in and tug the window closed, pressing my nose to the frozen glass. I try not to breathe so the fog won't obscure my view, but a small cloud of mist frosts the glass near my mouth anyways.
At last, my train rounds the bend and comes into my view, and I rest the pads of my fingers on the icy window, leaving damp fingerprints in my wake. I feel a kinship to this beast of metal and wooden tracks, he who travels the road laid out before him, and so I stay at the window until the beam of light has faded, until the
shuk-cha, shuk-cha
has become but a memory. And out of loyalty to this other lonely night creature, it is only then, minutes after the caboose has vanished from my view, that I draw the curtains and tiptoe across the floor back to bed. 

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  1. Beautiful writing. Absolutely beautiful.

    -"And suddenly I feel the need to see this train, to know that it is not alone tonight; and neither am I"-

    I love that line especially. Great writing!

    1. Thank you so much! I don't write short stories very often at all, but I was walking Toby and a train went by, and I thought of this.


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