Train of Thought

Submitted by Christine Hungerford to Contest #9 in response to: Write a story about unrequited love.... view prompt

Silla hopped aboard the Warrensburg train at the last minute. She could not miss her trip to her best friend’s house. Silla was going there, she knew, as the short and shaggy-haired woman sat down with her small leather purse on a chair opposite the closing train doors, to discuss Bob’s love for her but her disinterest in him. He genuinely loved her. Even expressed that he had worked up the courage to possibly date her and even propose to her soon. However, Silla had politely declined, but she had been doing so for long enough. Bob just needed to know that Silla was not interested in him. At all.              

               His love for me is just going to have to die off. I’m not going to marry him! Silla snorted, shifted herself and then looked away. I’m not interested in him, and he needs to know that. He’s getting pretty irritating the way he constantly reminds me that I should be for him, too. She sighed, looking elsewhere now. I’ll settle it with Richard—hopefully, it’ll work out with his help.

               The train roared on. Silla wished it would roar out the trouble in her life. The trouble with Bob. Sorry, but Bob needed to move on to someone else. Maybe back in grade school, Bob, Richard—Silla’s best friend—and Silla were good friends. But times have changed. Silla has been a working woman now for a long time as well as single and happy. She had considered the excitement of dating her Richard. However, Silla couldn’t shake the feeling that she had to try to get Bob to realize that she didn’t want him in her life anymore. I just can’t get him off my mind. I know I should let him go, but can’t he see that I don’t see him the way he sees me?      

               Silla paused from talking mentally to herself long enough to hear the intercom say that the train was now approaching Tea Cat Exit A-1.

Now, we will be arriving at Tea Cat Exit A. Please step aside so passengers can exit.

               The metallic voice pulled Silla out of her own little world for a moment, forcing her to consider the real world rather than her own issue of Bob and her disinterest towards him. When the train stopped at the terminal, Silla stood up and waved a few other passengers off before she took her turn. Once on the platform, Silla looked to the right and saw a sign that read Tea Cat Exit A-1. She headed right towards the escalator.              

               Riding up with one hand on the silver handrail, Silla hoisted her purse up higher so one of the handles could rest on her shoulder. She then stepped off to exit through the wide door-less opening through which passengers would walk to get to and from the train here in Springfield from all the way over in Independence. First, Silla had to stop at Warrensburg, as the Missouri train system, she researched, would get her to Springfield not only faster but also with a lot less hassle. The website for train trips taken in Missouri from Independence to Springfield was best taken from Independence to Warrensburg to Springfield. Silla could have taken another route, but she liked it when train and plane websites told her the best prices or best ways to get from one destination to the next one.        

               As Silla was walking across the black-grey asphalt in her wedged strapped sandals, she shifted her purse and then caught sight of Richard waving with one arm out the window. She trotted up to him and then stepped gingerly onto a sidewalk and then down in between Richard’s Honda Civic on the right and another car.

               “Oh, thanks, Rich!” Silla slid into her friend’s passenger seat and then looked at him while clicking her seatbelt into place. Richard answered with just a half-smile, walked around the hood and then climbed back behind the steering wheel. While he drove home, Richard told Silla that Bob was none of her concern.

               “Why are you here?” He asked wonderingly, raising his eyebrows at her when they stopped at a red light.

               “I came here to talk to you about Bob. I need your advice. I can’t just ignore him. He’s all for me!” Silla absentmindedly dropped her purse down in front of her.

               Richard was nodding, a wide bang strip hiding his right eye as he continued driving. “Yes—okay. But what do you think you need to do about that? I can suggest that you just keep ignoring him, and I’ll talk to him, but I don’t really know him. I mean, we’ve only known him since college, and we’ve known each other since we were five and six and we’re now thirty-nine and forty years old. No offense, but he’s not really our friend.” Richard turned a corner, but he showed he was listening by raising his eyebrows whenever Silla would suggest something else or narrow them if concerned, confused or was going to comment on something.   

               “Well,” Richard said at last, turning the Honda to the right before pulling into his driveway, “let’s start thinking of places we can start dating. I’d really like to start thinking about when we could get married. We’ve considered it in the past, but I don’t think we’ve really thought about it seriously.”

               Richard pulled up close to the garage door in front of the car, parked the car, turned off the engine and unbuckled. “And,” he added, opening his door and getting out, “I think it’d be best if we move somewhere where Bob can’t just swing by.”

               Silla processed all this information as she worked her way out of the passenger side. As she grabbed her purse, she was silent. But Richard knew she was listening to the way she kept looking up at him amidst struggling to grab her phone from her purse.

               “Oh, I’ll just answer it inside. I bet it’s Bob!” Silla laughed as Richard grinned hopefully and then locked the car, walking with her on the wide, blocked sidewalk that lead up to the brick two-step porch. Once the friends were in the foyer with a wooden table before them, Richard progressed to the kitchen.

               “Want anything?” He got a couple of glasses out and then opened the refrigerator.

               “I’ll have some water with no ice, please.” Silla pulled out a chair, plopped her purse onto the table and then walked into the living room to get a coaster.    

               “Okay,” Richard handed Silla a cold glass of water and then sat neatly in the chair across from her after setting down a plate of food. “So, who was that?”

               Usually, if the phone rang, it was one of Silla’s colleagues or boss. This time, it could be one of them, asking about the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet Silla almost forgot to hand in to her boss Thursday, two days ago. But when Silla put her glass down and then glanced at her phone, she looked at the Missed Call message blaring at her.

               Missed Call. Bob Goose. 816-334-3235.

               “It’s Bob.” She sighed wearily. Would he ever leave her alone? He could just go sing about her for all she cared.

               Richard looked at it with indifference sparkling in his eyes. “I don’t care.” He waved it away and then pulled the plate towards him. “Tell Bob I don’t care.” He stuffed his mouth with the food. “Do it by text.”

               “Okay.” Silla did as Richard had ordered and then changed the subject. “So, let’s think of ways we can start planning our future together as a married couple. Maybe that’ll throw Bob off.”

                

               Silla and Richard did get married in the next few months and then she moved into his house. Nonetheless, Silla still couldn’t shake that feeling that Bob was going to possibly show up at their door the next day and start asking her to marry him. He was a singer—couldn’t he just ask focus on his singing? But wait, Silla said to herself while watching TV one night while Richard was at an office party. Even if he did write a song, it’d be a song of unrequited love. About how she couldn’t see that Bob loved her, and how he would wish that she saw the same kind of things in him as she saw in Richard.     

               So, Silla reasoned as she munched half-heartedly on her buttery popcorn sitting beside her on the plushy striped cushions, Bob would never leave her alone. Whether she moved, whether she was a recluse or whether she was forever going to ignore Bob, Bob was never going to let her forget that he loved her and she should love him back.

               “What do I do?” Silla asked the crazy people on TV. “What do I do when someone won’t leave me alone?” She wanted to call Richard, but he was probably having water chugging contests with his co-workers, partying hard. She didn’t want to interrupt his time with the people with whom he would tell uninterrupted stories on Monday. So she turned to the TV and leaned over to pick up the remote lying on an oval chestnut table in front of her knees.                

               “There must be something good on.” Silla flipped through the channels, settling on something she thought would be interesting. It was the news. Suddenly, Silla almost screamed. She jumped up from her seat so hard the popcorn seemed to panic, too, from the way it flew a little out of the bowl. Staring at the screen the whole time Bob Goose was talking about his latest album, Silla grabbed her phone and dialed Richard’s number. Thankfully, he was driving home.

               “You have got to see this!” Silla was almost hysterical with shock. “I don’t hear from him forever and then what happens when I watch TV?! Bob! The guy—”

               “You’ve been striving to keep away from you ever since eighth grade back in middle school!” Richard’s laugh was airy, like he didn’t really want to laugh but didn’t know what else to do. “Look—I’ll watch TV with you, but let’s just keep this between us, okay?”

               “Okay.” Silla agreed a little breathlessly, but as she clicked End Call on her iPhone, Silla just knew Bob was going to mention something like Silla was my inspiration or I was inspired by this white pixie-haired woman back in my middle school when I was a kid. She’s moved on now, married her best friend probably—

               Silla once again swiped the remote from where it had clattered onto the wooden floor and shut the TV off with a jab to the red button at the top of the controller. She wasn’t going to hear her name spread everywhere. She was just going to wait for Richard to come sweep her up and for them to sit together and talk about how great of an office party Richard had attended.

               When Silla looked out the window beside the front door, she could see blaring lights shine back at her, illuminating her and the tiled piece of glass. Running to the front door, Silla unlocked and ran right through it, demanding Richard to get inside and tell her all about the party.

               “Okay, okay!” Silla’s husband hurried out into the night and then slammed the door. Hitting the lock button and walking briskly over to Silla, Richard hugged his wife hello and put an arm around her as he lead her into the house, opening everything for her and then locking the door behind him.  

               “Thanks so much, Richard! I feel truly blessed to be your wife.” Silla twirled around, rested her hands on Richard’s arms and then leaned in to kiss him. Richard bent over her, kissed her, released and then swooping Silla up, Richard smiled brightly in the light the kitchen overhead light shone down into the door-less room.    

               “I love you, too, Si!” Richard swirled her around, she laughing and he looking lovingly into her coral blue eyes.

               After Richard set her down, Silla released herself and then told him to fill her in on the party.  

               “Yes, I know!” Richard yanked his shoes off and then went to get into his pajamas. Silla returned to the bowl of popcorn and saw a little had spilled onto the couch. The fact that it was buttery worried Silla—Richard was going to get angry at her for staining the couch. So Silla dashed to retrieve some cleaning products and quickly cleaned up the butter stain. She then put the stuff away before Richard came out of their bedroom.

               When Richard emerged, Silla told him about the mess.

               “Oh, that’s fine, Silla. I had that couch for quite a while and don’t particularly like it. I don’t really care—that couch is more than twelve years old, and it’s really ugly.”

               “Oh.” Silla breathed a sigh of relief and smiled gladly. She then went to go sit back down on the couch.

               Richard appeared with another bowel of popcorn a few minutes later and then plopped himself right down next to Silla. She curled up next to him, and he told her all about the party while chewing and crunching his snack.

               “Oh! Sounds like you had a great time!” Silla wanted to sound happy for Richard, but there was that lagging feeling about Bob again.

               “Yeah. It was good.” Richard got up, gave his bowl to Silla and retrieved the remote from somewhere, making Silla fall into his spot. When he turned around, she grinned at him but then moved over.   

               “So,” he said, falling back into the couch and taking the bowl from her, “did you have a good time here alone with TV Bob?”

               “No!” Silla shoved Richard lightly, but he still laughed at her. “I didn’t.”

               “Well, that can be forgotten. Let’s just watch something fun, okay?”

               “Okay.”

               Richard pointed the remote at the TV and flipped through the channels until they saw an episode of their favorite TV show. Richard watched, glancing over as he sensed Silla slowly start to fall asleep and then turned the TV off. He proceeded to brush her hair away from her face, combing it and then shook her gently.

               “Silla, it’s late—like eleven-thirty. Do you want to go to bed or sleep on the couch?”

               “Um … I’ll sleep here.” Silla got up tiredly, telling Richard she’ll return after brushing and flossing her teeth. “Actually, I’ll go to bed in our bed.”

               “Okay.” Richard kissed Silla goodnight and then headed towards the bedroom.


Weeks passed, and seasons changed before Silla heard a whole lot from Bob. The latest was that he was a rock star all over Missouri and was spreading his fame around the whole United States. Before she got another glimpse of him, she saw the rising singer on the cover of one of the magazines at the local Walmart the next day.

               “Hey, Richard,” she said, grabbing a copy off the shelf as she stood in line behind her husband at the check-out aisle, “look!” She shook it a little in front of him, laughing. She was just doing this so Richard would see that it was Bob, not that she really cared who it was. It was just that he was on the cover. “Guess who?”

               “Yep.” Richard gave it one glance and then looked in front of him. “That’s nice.”

               “Yeah.” Silla put it back and didn’t really think about Bob, even as he was growing more and more popular, even in Canada. If Bob was getting more and more fans and singing more and more songs, then that would have to be fine with Silla. She would just keep the house up and greet Richard at the door when he came home from work every day.

 

               One Sunday afternoon, Silla was sitting at her table looking at her computer when a knock happened at the door.

               “Yes?” She asked, opening it to someone in a business suit. “My husband’s not able to come to the door at the moment. Could you please let me know what is going on?”    

               “Oh, ma’am, don’t worry!” The cheerful-sounding man answered. “I’m just here for you to sign something. It’s for Bob’s record label. He wants to know whether you will allow him to sing a song about you.”

               Silla froze for a second and then looked out past the well-dressed man. There was Bob, in his limo. He had the window down and he was waving gleefully to her with a smile that could stretch across his whole face. Silla inwardly rolled her eyes.  

               Silla returned to the kind man. “Sir, I don’t want him to sing about me. I prefer him,” her eyes dropped down to the line the man was tapping, “not to have anything to do with me.”

               “Okay. Just sign there.” He pointed with a bent arm over the clipboard and paper where Silla was going to sign her name under I do not give consent towards allowing singer to sing with my name on file. Please have him remove me from his singing and records thereof.  

               Silla grabbed the clipboard and scribbled her name. She then handed it and the pen back to the man.

               “Yes, ma’am.” He said politely, taking the items back and returning to the limo. As he looked back at her, he suggested, “Please consider your choice.”   

               No thank you! But Silla just nodded politely, told him to be careful not to trip on the two steps going down and then shut the door. She had just signed herself away from Bob—forever.               

               Now she couldn’t wait to tell Richard when he got home!   

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