A time to leave

Submitted into Contest #168 in response to: Make a train station an important part of your story.... view prompt


Coming of Age Fiction Drama

The clock arm was barely at the seven o’clock line when she rushed into the doors. Her eyes navigating and slicing through the crowded entrance. Travelers, family, porters and drivers flocked the doors to the old forty six station.

The doors opened wide and never closed, the big square entrance was like a tunnel with busy morning rush. Everyone was in a hurry to go somewhere. Vacation, work or just to visit old family and friends. 

She turned back and waved rampantly, gesturing her hand back and forth. The signal was well understood and her guests tried not to drag her down. She pulled back and eyed the number forty three on the paper in her hand. Immediately after she lifted her head up high and managed to see the number in large inscription not far from her. 

The station was old and had only two gates, there was no way she could miss it. Just before turning back again the clock struck the seventh hour mark and the dong sang all over the air. It was a sweet melody of an old time chime that went unnoticed to the traveling traffic.

“Hurry up!” Anna cried. “I don’t want to miss it”.

“Slow down, you are not going to miss anything” her mother replied.

The sound was crisp but cracked, the morning air had cracked her throat sending a mild irritation every time she spoke. 

“Pelly-pel?” A voice came from behind. “Slow down, please! Your mother and I are not young anymore” he continued.

Anna knew that name and did not like it so much but for today he was allowed to use it. She could hear a fade in his words. An unspoken sadness with the way he called her. She finally stopped and waited for them to catch up.

At that very instant, there was commotion and a crowd had gathered by the service counter. A man was shouting something about a missing luggage. A brief silence spread across the station and only the man could be heard speaking. The silence did not last that long and people continued with their business. She turned once again and looked at the crowd, a policeman in a blue hat had arrived and was pointing something. Anna paid no more attention and continued to gate forty three with her parents on each side.


Goodbyes are always hard for her but this one seemed different. She had managed to hold her tears together, at least until now. The heaviness in her heart grew with each passing moment. She was breaking apart, piece by piece being ripped away. She was leaving the home she had known all her life. The mere thought of the unknown world before her made her sick to her stomach.

Anna was alone in her coach seat. The car was not as full as she expected. This was her first time alone and she needed all the confidence in the world. Her eyes noticed a lady to her left with a little boy. She could see his shoes flickering with a red light, the thought reminded her of her own shoes that her father had bought one Christmas a long time ago. This broke her heart even more.

She looked outside the window one more time, holding back the tears in her eyes. She took in the image of the rugged roof tops. The faded signs and rusted frames of the station. She was ready for a new challenge but her heart was in tears. She stared at the man and woman looking straight at her. She could see the tears on the man’s eyes. She was his world and him hers. Her mother just held it all back. She stood firm and erect, like a soldier at a military parade.

Anna’s mother was composed as always, she was the powerhouse of the family and her strength was beyond understanding. That morning Anna noticed her eyes were bloody red, swollen and enlarged. She did not need to ask, but later at the station she held her tight until the time to part arrived. Now as she stood outside on the platform deck she was betrayed by her tears.

She knew her father all too well, a sensitive man who wore his emotions on his sleeves. He had stayed up sobbing the night before. She could hear his sniffling from her room. A man so large standing at six foot five yet with a heart so tender. He could never imagine this day coming and here it was for him, retching his innards with discomfort.

She also noticed an old couple that had come to see her off. They were waving with saddened smiles on their faces. There were other people at the station that had come to see their loved ones off and some were waving with widened smiles while others were teary eyed.

The conductor walked across on the outside. He checked the doors, car by car jerking them attentively. She noticed his crimson jacket and black slacks with a stripe on each side. He shouted something after each car and when he finally got to the end a whistle was heard.

The engine roared and a loud, familiar whistling sound could be heard across the depot. A thick white smoke rose as the pressure of air let go from the bottom. The platform became like a sea of fog, only silhouettes of people remained. Shadows lingering in the smoke. 

The time was fast approaching and she was really leaving home. A flash of thoughts flooded her mind. The town centers, the vendors the corner stores. Miss Leila from the produce market. She thought of her house, her bed, the pink lines on her walls. She had painted them with her mother. All the emotions were too much for her and she let out a soft cry with her hand in her mouth. 

A cranking metal sound joined the parade of sounds. The station cheered people waved and screamed their farewells. She stuck her head outside trying to find her parents in the smoke. A slow motion jerked her back and the car crept forward.

It whistled again and the people cheered one more time. And by the third whistle the car had reached aa running pace, she tried once more to located the people dear to her and this time she was successful. Her parents had moved to the foremost part of the platform and they were both smiling with their wet faces.

The train picked up speed and she saw the town clock, the church yard and the rice fields from a far. She stared intently sealing the images in her mind. Each tree, grass, flower, buildings, all needed to be stored and kept safe in the banks of her memory.

She felt like she would forget it, somehow deep inside her she was afraid she would not remember the home she new. She watched as the trained approached the tunnel at the edge of the town. The dark tunnel cut all lights in the car and she could not see a thing.

A few minuted later the car was flared by light and more light until the tunnel was cleared. She watched the endless green as far as the eyes could see. She was in the new world and just like that a ray of hope flashed in her heart. She will be back here someday.

October 22, 2022 03:45

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.