The Platform

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


LGBTQ+ Lesbian Sad

Back and forth. The train and then the people. Another train and some more people. The sound of suitcase wheels on rough pavement. Sit, stand, pace. Looking at tickets, squinting at tickets, squinting at the sun. Suitcase wheels on rough pavement. 

One catches and flips, it’s owner tries to right it, sighs with frustration. A woman, she must be with her—there’s an intimacy there—steps in and wipes the other's shoulders, rubbing off the stress, rubbing in the love and then she kisses her on red lips. 

I look away and down the tracks, willing my train to come. The bench suddenly feeling cooler under my legs; I look down to see my knuckles, white, hands gripping the metal. There is a matching cold in my stomach. It’s an emptiness that has always been there, that I’ve willed there. 

I look up, and the couple has vanished. I wish they would come back, make me aware of the ache in my stomach, the coolness of being alone. 

Back and forth. Trains screeching, doors slamming, a group’s rollicking debate. High heels on rough pavement. Running with tickets, running with backpacks, running with children in tow. 

One is standing there; patched tights, orange felt coat, crooked bangs. She’s holding her mom’s hand, trusting, oblivious to the world. Her mom looks down at her and wistfully smiles with love born out of an unbroken connection.

I wonder if her mom truly wants her to be happy when she’s grown. I wonder if the child would ever expect to feel the ache gone cold with suppression of self. To sit on a cold metal bench waiting for a train to her mother, if she’ll make it, or yet again, it will be somebody else. Some other version of herself. 

The mom tugs the child’s hand a little. She clops along, her patent leather shoes dragging on rough pavement. 

Humming engines, humming busker, rustling leaves in trees. Clear plastic baggy with trail mix. Sit, stand, one eighty spin to the other door, raisins on the ground. Through one door, back through another. 

Unsure, a student flips their yellow backpack to the front, contorting to probably find their ticket. Crinkled papers spill out. Defeated, they crouch on the ground. Remove textbook, remove laptop, remove sweater, reveal ticket crumpled but there. They look at the ticket, their watch, the platform sign. Muscles relax; they sink to their bottom and start stuffing their backpack again. 

I wonder if they’ve been in love yet. If they’ve had their first kiss, if they went to their prom last year and rubbed that soft spot on people's wrists right below the corsage. I know where my ticket is-- I’m early for my train, but I’ve never been in love, and I’ve never known the ease of being messy out loud. 

They run to their train, hop on, plop down and smile to themselves as the doors ping and close. 

Breaks steam, couplings lock, unlock, doors hiss and swoosh. “Sorry.” “Excuse me.” “Can I get by?" Car engines start behind me; door shuts, engine starts, door shuts, engine starts. “You made it!” “How was the trip!” 

A couple gets off the train, first him, then her, offered hand accepted. Suitcase one, suitcase two handed down. Hobbling with arthritic knees, my own shaking on the bench that only grows colder. He takes out a paper map and pats his front pocket, side pockets, back pockets, looks up and sees a pair of green readers floating in front of his face. She’s there; he smiles, puts them on, and straightens the map.  

I wonder if they’ve ever questioned if they would be alone in too many of these moments and if that would wear an empty cold in their stomach. I wonder if their wedding day was simple and their synergy now complex. I wonder if they ever accepted that growing old with someone might not be an option and sank into the tolerance of always buying one ticket. 

They walk arm in arm, a Venn diagram, off the platform. 

Crumpled paper rolling, stepped on, flying, falling on the tracks, a train zooms by not stopping, passengers on the other side, concealed, revealed, concealed, revealed.

A couple is among them. Him in blue sweats with a painted-on tie, her with a cheap tiny veil blowing behind her. He’s looking at his phone, she’s looking at her watch. Another train shoots by and he squeezes her arm, never looking up. She smiles at him, and he at her, and they return to their places waiting. 

The cold ache sinks deeper. The bench suddenly digging into my legs. I wonder if they know how easy it is for them to buy a cheap tiny veil and wear it outside. I wonder if they are taking today for granted, not really present, not really seeing the gift in it. I wonder if friends and Neighbours slipped paper envelopes into their pockets, and their hearts swelled as they said goodbye. I wonder if their parents were there at the wedding, if a grandparent shed a tear.  

One of the trains slows down and then stops, goes faster, and the platform is empty again. 

That din when there’s suddenly no noise, nothing hitting on rough pavement, knee bouncing, gum chewing, neither of them my own. Someone sitting on the bench beside me. Boots crunching on rough pavement. Shift, turn, eye contact, smile.  

Do they know who they are sitting beside? Do they recognize the cold, the ache, the white knuckles gripping our bench? I wonder if they also live inside their head. I wonder if they look out through eyes that scan for moments of safety, for some soft place to land. I wonder if it's just a smile; or if it's an invitation, a question, a want.  

Garbled announcement, garbled announcement, zipper slides, shuffling papers, looking down, looking up, number matches mine. 

I’m holding my ticket too tightly; it crinkles beneath my lavender nails. Doors open, doors open, doors open, and I sit on the platform and watch as the train moves down the track. 

October 21, 2022 22:42

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


06:16 Oct 22, 2022

Loneliness and waiting for nothing? Excellent.


Show 0 replies
Andrea Vermeer
23:55 Nov 06, 2022

Thank you, everyone, for the kind comments and feedback! I'm very excited to start writing more!


Show 0 replies
AnneMarie Miles
04:45 Oct 28, 2022

This is poetry. The fragmented sentences are balanced eloquently with details. Saying less is really more powerful. I had highlighted many great lines that stuck out, but this is the one that did it for me: "I know where my ticket is-- I’m early for my train, but I’ve never been in love, and I’ve never known the ease of being messy out loud." This idea that you can get some things right, but not others. You can appear one way, and lack something. You can be prompt and organized, but you're lonely. You portray this beautifully. Well done ...


Show 0 replies
13:42 Oct 22, 2022

This is really amazing! I liked how you captured feelings and emotions in simple and snappy sentences while then expanding upon them in further paragraphs, how you get so much of an insight into the main character simply by reading how they perceive other's and the coldness in their body. The recurring theme of being cold and empty was really clever! I hope you're alright, all writing comes from somewhere.


Show 0 replies
Laura Potter
07:48 Oct 22, 2022

This is really lovely. You capture the bustling atmosphere of a train station through quick turning description, and that makes for a great contrast with the internal and rather rambly thoughts of your narrator. A very human story. Wonderful work!


Show 0 replies
Nicole Lee
05:20 Oct 22, 2022

Omg I literally love this <3


Show 0 replies

Bring your short stories to life

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