A short story about a girl getting lost on public transport.
I felt my fingers uncontrollably tighten and clench together so that my nails dug deep into my palms. Another train station blurs past me. The sign informing me of where I am is illegible, my panic swirling the letters.
Where am I?
I sneak a glance around the carriage. There are a few people scattered around on the over-graffittid seats, but I can’t ask them. They all look unfriendly, going out of their way to avert their eyes, avoid eye contact with everyone else. Some stare listlessly at the ceiling, while others look determinedly out the window, headphones blaring. No, I definitely can’t ask them. The train dwindles to a stop. More people, zombie-like, get onto the train. Stare straight ahead. Make no eye contact. Never smile. Don’t sit next to anyone.
Some of the zombies get off. They all know where they are going. Nobody else is completely lost.
I feel myself hyperventilating.
Is this train even going in the right direction?
It’s getting late.
My phone is out of credit.
What do I do?
My all-consuming panic threatens to overwhelm me.
I try to compose myself. As I feel the train slowing down once again, I stand up briskly, feigning confidence. I grab my schoolbag from under the seat. The zombies’ eyes flick towards me, then away again.
I get off the train and start trudging down the platform, trying half-heartedly to avoid the disgusting black spots on the floor, gum from previous centuries. I look up at the sign. I can hardly read it past the graffiti, proclaiming that Simon was here and Katie loves Mark and that Bea is a very bad word. Squinting slightly, I manage to read the information smothered underneath it.
Wow, I didn’t know that there were any creeks anywhere near where I live.
Actually, I know there aren’t.
I walk down the platform, aiming for the exit, and a friendly, non-train zombie person to ask directions to. The platform is deserted. An old man, sitting in a cardboard box, is staring at me through the wire fence separating him from the platform. He pulls his worn blanket tighter around himself while his head follows my every move. The hair on the back of my neck prickles. I ignore him, walking faster, trying to stop my legs trembling. Internally, I curse the train employees that went on strike, making my normal, safe, straight-forward train get cancelled. That makes me feel slightly better, blaming someone. So I do it again. I internally shake my fist at the replacement bus driver, who had told me that yes, of course the bus went to my suburb. I kick out my foot, hitting a cheap metal trash can, one of the many that litter the train station. My foot hits it savagely with a resounding clang. The dilapidated bin falls over, base gluing it to the platform rusted through. It rolls down the station before going onto the tracks. The homeless guy makes a half-laughing, half-coughing sound. I look at the array of brightly coloured litter, spilled out on the train tracks. It makes sense to me. The only colour in the entire of Cracking Creek is what they don’t want, what they are throwing away. Everything else, the station, the trees, even the sky, are depressing shades of green and grey. The panic in me has dulled now. Mainly because I know things can’t get any worse. With a resigned sigh, I take a seat on one of the rotting wooden benches. I prop my bag up beside me, protecting it from the dirtied gum and cigarette butts on the floor. Resolving to jump on the first train in the opposite direction to the way I’ve been going, I have nothing to do but wait. I look at the coloured rubbish on the tracks. Ants are spilling out of the litter, all marching efficiently and businesslike off the tracks back up to the platform. Except for one or two, milling about helplessly. They are wandering around the tracks confusedly, seeming to be uncertain in their new surroundings, and unsure of exactly what happened. One of the lost ants stops moving on one of the steel runners, just standing still. It seems to be waiting for help that isn’t coming. Why doesn’t is ask for help? It surely could. I look closely at the ant. It seems to be vibrating slightly now. Tremors are rolling off its body. What is happening? Then I hear the sound. The shrieking whistle. The train is coming.
The ant still isn’t moving, waiting for help. Then I can’t see anything but the blur of the train, and I hear the crackling of the rubbish as the life is squeezed from it. The rubbish can is pushed further down the track until it comes to a rest on a grassy patch beside the train tracks. There is rests peacefully.
I feel sorry for the lost ant. It’s dead now. The train killed it. Because its home was pushed onto the tracks. By me.
I killed it.
Welcome to Authspot, the spot for creative writing.
Read some stories and poems, and be sure to subscribe to our feed!