I’ve got a flash fiction story here for you that I’ve just written. It’s a paranormal romance story about a magical train, and I’m going to try to do one of these flash stories every Friday. I can’t make any promises about the commas. 😉
Train to Somewhere
I’d always wanted to try out the train.
People said it was unpredictable. People said there was no way to know where you would end up.
But it was the only way to get out of town.
The day was hot and dusty, and as I walked down to the train station, I met no one on the way. The station was likewise empty when I reached it, and I bought a ticket from an ancient, weathered vending machine.
I sat down on a bench with my flimsy slip of a ticket and commenced to wait.
The hot, dry wind blew dust in my eyes, and I watched the one set of tracks in both directions. I had no idea which direction the train would come from.
I waited and waited, but the train didn’t come.
After a while, I wanted to sleep, but I was afraid I would miss the train, and the bench really wasn’t that comfortable.
I continued to wait, and as the heat became truly oppressive, I saw something small and dark shimmering out in the haze.
The train was finally coming.
The train pulled to a stop in front of me, and a conductor got out. He took my ticket from me wordlessly, and I boarded the train.
I walked down the aisle and saw that all the seats were full.
No one looked up as I passed by.
I walked on through the cars until I found an empty seat. I sat down without looking at the person who was next to me.
The train pulled out of the station.
We rode on for a while, and eventually, I fell asleep. When I awoke, we were pulling into the next station.
The passenger seated next to me stood up abruptly, and I moved to let him pass. Then I slid over to the seat he’d vacated and looked out the window.
Somehow, we were on a beach, and as I watched, a crowd of passengers stepped out of the train and walked across the sand down toward the sparkling water.
I opened the window and leaned out. I could smell the salt air, and a seagull flew overhead in the clear blue sky. It looked like a beautiful place to get out.
I moved to follow the other passengers, but then I heard a voice in my head:
“Find what you have lost.”
I sat back in my seat.
The train rolled on, and eventually I felt the train slowing down again. As we pulled to a stop, I looked out the window. This time we were in a forest, and I could see a clearing that sloped down to a lake. Blue mountains rose off in the distance.
From the window, I could see more people leaving the train. This time there were a lot of families, and most of them had luggage. One family even had a picnic basket.
This, too, looked like a good place to get out. I stood up to go, but once again, I heard a voice in my head:
“Find what you have lost.”
I sat back down again.
The train moved on once more, and this time when we pulled to a stop, I looked out the window and saw a landscape of snow and ice. There were trees that had been silvered by ice, and white powder stretched as far as the eye could see.
I watched as more people disembarked from the train, but despite the beauty of the place, I remained in my seat. I knew what I would hear.
“Find what you have lost.”
The train started up again. I looked around and saw that my car seemed to be empty.
I got up and walked down the aisle. Sure enough, all the seats I passed were unoccupied.
I moved on into the next car, and that one was also empty.
I was just moving into the next one when the train pulled to a stop.
I looked out the window.
In front of me was a strangely featureless landscape—there was neither earth nor sky, just gray above and below. And in the grayness, I could see a figure standing.
The set of his shoulders was familiar, and even though his back was to me, I knew exactly who it was.
It was James.
I ran out of the train, and this time there was no voice.
I had found what I’d lost—I had lost James. And I missed him.
I stepped out into the strange grayness and ran toward him.
But even as I ran toward him, I could feel myself hesitating.
I had loved James very much. And he had left me.
I reached him, and he turned toward me.
My heart still fluttered when he said my name.
“I’ve missed you, Penny,” James said. “It’s good to see you again.”
I looked into his beautiful, brown eyes and felt the same pull toward him that I always did.
“I knew you’d come back to me,” he said.
I felt the spell his eyes created snap.
I took a step back.
“You left me,” I said.
“I know,” James said. “But that’s because you couldn’t be what I wanted. I knew you’d come back and tell me you were sorry.”
“You knew I’d come back?” I said.
“And tell you I was sorry—that I was ready to change for you?”
James smiled. “Yes.”
James’ smile had once made me melt.
This time it made me angry.
I stepped away from him.
“You’re wrong,” I said. “I never needed to change.”
James gave me an indulgent smile. “It’s okay, Penny. I forgive you. You don’t need to be defensive.”
“You forgive me?”
I turned and ran from him.
“Penny!” James called. “Penny, where are you going?”
“You left me!” I shouted back to him. “But I should have left you!”
I ran toward the train, which was miraculously still waiting for me.
I heard the train begin to start up again, and I ran and jumped onto it as it pulled away.
I flung myself into a seat and looked out the window.
James was staring after me.
The train rolled on, and eventually he disappeared.
The train continued to chug along for what felt like half an hour.
Then it pulled to a stop once more.
I looked out the window and saw a bare, dusty train station. A man was dozing on a bench, and he started awake as the train came to its noisy halt.
He was young and wide-eyed, and he looked around as if he didn’t quite know where he was.
I heard the train doors open, and I hurried to the exit.
I stepped down from the train and looked around. Aside from the young man, the station was deserted.
I walked over to the man.
“Hi,” I said.
“Hi,” he replied. “Is this the train? I mean the train? The train to Somewhere?”
I glanced back at the train. “I think it is. My name’s Penny, by the way.”
The young man stood up quickly and held out his hand.
“I’m Henry. Nice to meet you.”
I took his hand. It was warm and strong.
I looked up into his eyes—they were brown, like James’, but there was a difference. Henry’s eyes were warm.
“So, Henry, are you getting on the train?” I asked.
“Are you?” he said.
“Yes,” I said.
“Then so am I,” he replied.
The two of us climbed onto the train and sat down next to each other.
As the train pulled out of the station, Henry glanced out the window.
“Where are we headed?” he said.
I smiled at him. “I guess we’ll wait and see.”
Thanks very much for reading!
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