A Short Story by Samantha Limberger
I step off the train. A little bewildered, I look around at my surroundings. The platform is empty, devoid of other people. There is a map, a bench, and a black door. I hear a dinging and turn around to see what it was. The door to the train had closed and was slowly making its way back the way it came. For some reason I feel like waving. I know if I wait here long enough, more people I know would get off that train too. It feels nostalgic really, watching the train go back to pick up people I know. And normally I would wait for them too. Then we could all go on the train together. One big happy group of people. But not this time.
I sit down on the bench. Waiting always takes forever, especially without music. Thoughts always run through my mind while waiting for a train. Why did I jump on the train before everyone else? I figured if I got on there, other people would join me too. But it’s always the same. I jump on the train first, other people either jump on a different train or wait for the next one. Seriously people, your feet aren’t made of lead, you can jump on the first train.
I start to tap my fingers in the tune of the Animaniacs theme song. It’s time for Animaniacs, tap tap tap, and we’re zany to the max, tap tap tap, so just sit back and relax, you’ll laugh till you collapse…
Wasn’t there a quote about waiting for a train? Wasn’t it something like, you’re waiting for a train, and you don’t know where it’s going, but it doesn’t matter because you’ll be together? What was that from? I sit and think for a while. Oh that’s right, it’s from Inception.
I reach into my pocket to look at my phone. Time always moves so slowly while waiting for a train. Maybe I could call people to help me pass the time?
I start to look through my contacts. Half these people I don’t even talk to. Heck, I don’t even know this person. Why do I have these people in my phone? I send a couple texts to a couple people telling them it’s boring waiting for a train, and then I sit back to see if anyone texts back.
I always question why I never get text replies back right away. I know other people have lives, but they can’t all be doing something really exciting right now, right? I’m pretty sure someone else is waiting for a train like me, right? Well, now I’m just waiting for two things.
I get up. I start to dance around on the platform to a song that’s never been made. Maybe I should record this and give it to my friend when I have the chance. Maybe he could make this into a song at some point. Or maybe he’ll listen to it and then say it’s too weird and then go and make his own songs. I stop dancing. Maybe I should sing a song. What song to sing though?
Each morning I get up I die a little, can barely stand on my feet! No, no, too depressing at the moment.
I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts; there they are standing in a row. No, no, I’m not really singing that song; I’m just talking it.
Sitting along, inward smile, everything’s fine, silent denial. No, no, I don’t know all the words to my friend’s song.
I sigh. I go over to look at the map. I then realize I don’t know where I’m going. I see so many ways to go, and yet I’m not sure which train to jump on next. I could wait for more people and then jump on the train they’re going on. No, no, I already decided I was going on my own train.
But which train to choose? I could go on a train that takes me far away. Or I could go on a train that doesn’t take me anywhere at all. Or I could go on a train that takes me exactly what I’ve dreamed of for so long. Or I could take a detour from my dream and jump on a train that leads to somewhere I know is fun. Or I could go back. But going back is always really hard. And what if I jump on a train that takes me back, and people I know are getting off to wait here for the next train? That would be embarrassing.
I step away from the map. I look at the black door. Maybe I could just stay here all my life. Maybe I could just walk through that door and give up trying to ride trains all my life. I walk over to the door. My hand hovers over the door handle. It’s cold. So very cold.
But what if someone else wants me to come with them on a train? What if I walk through this door and I never want to ride on a train again? I think I’d miss the people I know if I walk through this door. I take my hand back.
This isn’t my stop. There’s no point in making it my last stop. There are so many more things to do.
I turn around. My phone buzzes. Finally someone has decided to text me back. My phone buzzes again. And again. And again. So many texts from people that I love. Some texts say that they’re rooting for me to take the train I want. Some texts are suggestions on which trains to take, and which to avoid. Some texts are just reminders that they love me.
I smile. I take the time to respond to every text, thanking them for advice, and telling them I love them too.
I look up. A train is waiting for me. The conductor comes out.
“Hello, are you getting on this train?”
I look at the train.
“Where does this train go?” I ask.
“Forward,” was all he said.
That’s good enough for me. I don’t know where this train will take me, but as long as I have people who love and support me, and as long as the train keeps going forward, then I’m sure I’ll be just fine.