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Submitted for Contest #47 in response to: Suitcase in hand, you head to the station.... view prompt

200 comments

Suitcase in hand, you head to the station. At the station, there is a great hustle and bustle; everyone is fighting to reach the booking window. New day, new people. An old man's pocket is picked. He starts to shout. You cast a look at his direction, but instantly regret it; he isn't just an ordinary old man. His colorless eyes don't even reflect light and make him look blind. In addition to this, he has a hunchback. You start to look away but your eyes fall on his hands, they are bloodied and wrinkled, scattered with lines. He starts running in your direction, but you move in feverish haste, anxious to get going. You zigzag around groups of people and notice, with some relief, that you have lost him.


Next on the scene, comes a group of young adults, all girls. The tallest one is fair-skinned, dressed in a plain white tee and khaki pants with minimal makeup. The second tallest is blonde, somewhat fragile, intelligent in expression. She is wearing a black tank top and beige capri pants. The third and the last one has sleek and chic strawberry blonde hair, her face caked in makeup. She is chewing gum, occasionally popping it. She looks at you and winks flirtatiously as if she knows you have been here all along. You feel your face flushed and thus, you quickly look away. Again!


You smell food and realize just how hungry you are. Quickly you move towards the source of the tantalizing aroma only to realize the seller is a poor vendor. "Do you want some samosas, bhai?" he smiles a crooked smile. You smile in return, not knowing that he just called you his brother and feel your pocket for the money, only to realize the horrifying truth: you forgot your wallet in the cab. Thankfully it didn't have much except for money, of course. Your smile instantly vanishes. The vendor notices your worry and speaks up, "It's okay, bhai. You can have the samosas for free," and he hands over to you not only the samosas but the chutney along with it too. He smiles his crooked smile again and leaves.

Food delivery apps spice up Indian train journeys - SAMAA


The train arrives. You proceed hoping to have a window seat, only to get pushed by the rowdy woman who is almost dragging her wailing son along with her. You start moving into the train again, only to get interrupted by the muffled giggles of the young girls you saw earlier. "Hi, I'm Zoe," the strawberry blonde speaks not realizing that she is blocking the way of numerous others behind her. She is fluttering her eyelashes all innocent-like, not knowing that now isn't the time to do so. It's your duty, therefore, to speak up. You clear your throat and she gets the signal. She stops staring at you and goes to sit with her friends. You notice the young man,ย sitting three paces away at his usual place, by the window. His hands full like always. Out of the blue, the man lifts his gaze and looks at you right in the eye. The gaze sends a chill down your spine and causes the hair on your neck to rise so you quickly look away. Again!


Once you are seated, there comes a hostess who offers you, your favorite fresh juice but you refuse it. Your mind keeps ticking as to why did you refuse it minutes after she leaves. Tick Tock. Tick Tock. But you don't get the answer. The woman on your left taps you gently on your shoulder. You ignore the tapping but rather focus on your brain's ticking. You get distracted again when the woman on your left taps you again, urgently this time. You look over at her, extremely irritated by her behavior, only to realize she is throwing up in a sickness bag ( she is maybe prone to motion sickness ). The bad smell nauseates you and you get up to sit somewhere else.ย 


You are moving through the aisle, unable to find a vacant seat when you see her. Your heart skips a beat. Zita, you whisper. Those same ocean blue eyes. Her pale features obscured by knotty brown hair curled at the ends. She is smiling. Oh, that million-dollar smile you'd give anything for. She is dressed in a loose-fitting vintage dress and flat shoes. Mesmerized by her beauty, you forget that you aren't at home. Neither is this woman, Zita. Sighing, you move forward.


You grab a seat by the window.


The train switches tracks. The environment becomes uneasy: you hear the soft cry of a baby which gradually becomes loud and rhythmic. Suddenly a woman shouts, loud and clear. People get up to see the source of the shout and so do you. As expected, it is the same rowdy woman whom you had encountered earlier. You smirk and get going. But then reality slaps you on the face. You reminisce about the days with your cruel stepmother: you think about her sadistic pleasure in tormenting you, her vicious plans and you shudder.

Quarantines, school shutdowns may cause a surge in child abuse ...


This is God's way of showing you not to forget your past. You say a silent prayer and go to sleep.


The train stops. Everyone is rushing out to freshen up themselves but you don't move. Lazy brat, you can hear your step mom's voice again. Your eyelids droop and you try to go back to sleep. "I know that you aren't sleeping, only your eyes are closed," the scent of strawberry and mint fills the air and reminds you of Zita again! You stay still, pretending not to have heard the speaker. She taps her feet on the floor, and when you don't pay attention to her, the tapping intensifies. You smile even though your eyes are still closed. 'Well, I am going," and that is when you recognize the voice. It's Zoe, the strawberry blonde. You sit up straight. She smiles over her victory and that smile reminds you of Zita again. "Hello, I'm Zoe!" she says her name again. You want to say 'I know' but your tongue betrays you and all you manage is "Mm-hmm". Zoe says something and asks a question in return but you can't concentrate because your brain is switching tracks again. Clickety-Clack. Clickety-Clack...


The train arrives at its destination. Everybody is getting off the train but you don't move. Finally, everyone is gone. Then comes the conductor. "Nowhere to go?" he asks the same question he has been asking for the past three years. You nod the same way too. Without asking anything further, he leaves. And it's just you and the train. Nobody knows it, except for you and the conductor: it is in hope of finding Zita that you have been coming here, every day, for the past three years.



But, instead of Zita, it has always been you and the train.

You and the train.

You and the train.






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200 comments

Zilla Babbitt
12:03 Jun 23, 2020

You asked me to read, so here I am. So sweet! And unique. I like the incorporation of the pictures to the main part of the story. Couple things: The transitions were a little choppy. Try just making it normal paragraphs not the curlicued breaks. And also... this was strange in an almost haunting way. You've set it all up to be a mystery or something, but then you leave it. That's fine, but I think if you put in WHY this person has such a strict regimen for years, it would really give lasting impact. Unique, and I like the pictures....

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Batool Hussain
12:15 Jun 23, 2020

Thank you for the feedback:)

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Rhondalise Mitza
14:09 Jun 21, 2020

Darn, I just hate it when blonde girls flirt with me shamelessly; so tragic. Unlike your story, which was marvelous! Youโ€™ve got the second person hook down, Batool!

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Batool Hussain
14:13 Jun 21, 2020

Thank you so much Rhondalise! Glad that you liked it! Also, if you didn't already realize, I've mentioned you in my bio for your great skills, and I'll be happy if you do the same for me. Thanks.

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Rhondalise Mitza
14:15 Jun 21, 2020

I just noticed! And of course Iโ€™ll mention you. Give me a minute though to update the bio. ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ˜‚

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Wow, I love the pictures! They are totally new...you've actually been the first one to incorporate in pictures. Also, would you mind checking out my latest two stories, please? I would really love some feedback...

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Batool Hussain
07:00 Jul 04, 2020

Thanks.Sure I'll check out your stories in a while.

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I. Love
18:13 Jun 26, 2020

I'm here with feedback as requested! :) Some parts of the story were hard to follow and I feel like the descriptions of the characters could be more organic. However, I did appreciate the fidelity to the train theme ("your brain is switching tracks again"), and the ending is what really sold the story for me.

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Batool Hussain
18:25 Jun 26, 2020

Thanks for the feedback๐ŸŒธ

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I. Love
18:28 Jun 26, 2020

Happy to help!

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Batool Hussain
18:33 Jun 26, 2020

๐Ÿ˜Š Also, Izzy it would mean so much to me if you check out my next story which I would be posting soon๐Ÿ™ƒ๐ŸŒˆ

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Esther Andrews
18:12 Jun 26, 2020

I really enjoyed this story. Good descriptive language and great twist at the end!

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Batool Hussain
18:26 Jun 26, 2020

Thank you so much!!๐Ÿ™ƒ

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Johanna J
13:45 Jun 26, 2020

The pictures are so cool! Great story and plot. There are a few things you could work on to make the story even better but as I was scrolling through the comments, many of them stated what I was going to say-but this story is amazing and really unique. Keep writing!!!

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Batool Hussain
14:21 Jun 26, 2020

Thank you! Do you mind giving your views on my future pieces too? Thanks.

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Johanna J
14:23 Jun 26, 2020

Sure!

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Nandan Prasad
12:49 Jun 26, 2020

Great story! Loved the descriptions.

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Batool Hussain
13:07 Jun 26, 2020

Thanks:)

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Rodrigo Juatco
11:48 Jun 26, 2020

Your writing is highly provocative and visually stimulating. There were so much texture to your descriptions. I could almost imagine myself there. I enjoyed your story very much. Thank you.

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Batool Hussain
12:03 Jun 26, 2020

You made my day, Rodrigo! Thank you so very much for such a sweet comment *_*

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Laura Clark
08:59 Jun 26, 2020

Hiya! You asked me to come and check this story out so here I am ๐Ÿ™‚ This was very interesting and I like the rhythmic feeling that echoes the chugging of the train. I thought the ending answered some questions I had and rounded it off nicely but I have to confess that the bleeding man running towards the narrator in the first part of the story occupied my mind for the rest of it - I kept expecting him to appear and I was a bit confused when he didnโ€™t. I would say that if you introduce such a sinister character but donโ€™t intend to use them lat...

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Batool Hussain
09:06 Jun 26, 2020

Thanks for the constructive feedback, Laura! I really appreciate it

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Laura Clark
09:14 Jun 26, 2020

Youโ€™re welcome! If you have any constructive feedback for any of mine, I always love hearing ways to improve.

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Batool Hussain
09:21 Jun 26, 2020

I'll gladly go through your pieces. Though, I doubt they would be requiring any suggestions from a new writer like me. Also, I added a little new line near the end of this story. If you don't mind, will you please check it out and tell whether or not it goes well with the story. Sorry to bother you but I'm only asking for help because I'm very new to Reedsy(as I mentioned before) Thanks.

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Laura Clark
10:00 Jun 26, 2020

Oh that line rounds it off much better. Inspired! Iโ€™m a new writer too though - Iโ€™ve only been writing for about 8 weeks and only on here for 4 weeks - weโ€™re probably comparable in experience!

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Batool Hussain
11:29 Jun 26, 2020

Thank you. So glad that you reviewed my story before it went live. Also, I'm really surprised that you're new too. Glad, glad, glad that I found you^_^

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Cathy Deal
23:55 Jun 25, 2020

Great details. Good work

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Batool Hussain
05:32 Jun 26, 2020

Thank youu!

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It's a great read, well-written. I loved the inclusion of the pictures too, pretty unique Also if you wouldn't mind I have like one story on my profile go check it out if you can.

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Batool Hussain
05:10 Jun 26, 2020

Thank you so much! I'll surely check out your profile:)

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20:05 Jun 25, 2020

I really want to know about the narrator's past. The relationship between them and Zita. Will they meet again? How will it go? The history of their stepmother and her cruelties...it draws me in to want to know more. Excellent read. I would love to know what you think about my story Worth the World.

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Batool Hussain
05:28 Jun 26, 2020

Hello, Catherine! I'm glad that you liked it. And, about the narrator's past, I'm thinking of posting another story based on it, if and only if we get any related prompt :) I'll check out your story in a while.

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Maggie Deese
19:55 Jun 25, 2020

This was a very unique story, Batool! I loved the pictures; you truly made me feel like a part of this story. Transitions could be a little better; it was a bit choppy. But other than that, wonderful story!

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Batool Hussain
05:23 Jun 26, 2020

Thank you so much!

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A O
19:03 Jun 25, 2020

Wow, well written and haunting.

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Batool Hussain
05:16 Jun 26, 2020

Thankk you:)

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Khizra Aslam
17:12 Jun 25, 2020

Damn.. this one is amazing.. I loved it..keep going โค I will love to read more stories from youโค

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Batool Hussain
17:15 Jun 25, 2020

Thank you so much, Khizra! *_*

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Mara C
16:31 Jun 25, 2020

Wow! Wonderful writing! Well done :-)

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Batool Hussain
16:57 Jun 25, 2020

Thank youu!

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Jessica X
15:25 Jun 25, 2020

Hi! I really enjoyed reading your story! I liked how it really showed the chaos of going on a train with a lot of people moving! You did a great job writing with second person too! The only thing I would say that could be a tiny bit different would be to elaborate more on the main character because most of the story is just focused on what's happening on the train and at the train station, so I think it would be a little more interesting if the main character had a back story or something. Really nice job though!! You're a great writer! :)

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Batool Hussain
15:43 Jun 25, 2020

Thanks, Jessy(if I can call you that?) Your feedback means a lot. I'm really happy that you took out time to give constructive feedback:) Actually, this was my very first time writing a story based on the second POV, I'm glad that you liked it^_^

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Ken Coomes
13:28 Jun 25, 2020

Good job - hooked me in, and made me want to read more. It may not be worth considering, but I wonder if switching from the brain ticking and tick-tock to the brain switching tracks again clickety-clack, tying into the train theme, might work?

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Batool Hussain
13:43 Jun 25, 2020

Thanks for the feedback! I love it^_^ I'll definitely try to fit 'clickety-clack' in :)

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Ismell Sarcasm
16:27 Jun 24, 2020

Hello! You asked me to read your story and I really liked it You have just enough detail to allow readers to get into the mind of the character and the images were a very nice detail One thing I'd say can be improved would be the focus of the story, at times it kind of felt it was jumping around from one thing to another and it made it a little hard to tell what you wanted to say

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Batool Hussain
16:59 Jun 24, 2020

Thanks for the feedback:)

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Ismell Sarcasm
21:56 Jun 24, 2020

No problem! :)

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Mehak Aneja
11:51 Jun 24, 2020

The story was great. The idea of putting the pictures was great and went perfectly with the story. Great work.

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Batool Hussain
12:13 Jun 24, 2020

Thank you so much:)

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