Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the ROMANCE genre (04/19/07)
- TITLE: Missing a Train
By James Wood
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Still, they caught each other’s eye every night at 9:15. And, for a few seconds, time would stand still. Then, with but a few stolen glances traded, they would board their respective trains and speed off into the night.
As Amy stood on the platform at 9:07 this night, she felt that wonderful feeling of anticipation whetted by an afternoon of daydreams.
Jonathan slipped his ticket into the feeder, and saw it pop out on the other side of the turnstile. As he picked it up, he was deep in thought. Would he talk to her tonight? He recalled the advice his friend had given him, something to the effect of “Dude, just talk to her. Don’t be such a chicken.”- though he had not used the word “chicken.”
His nervousness escalated faster than he did towards the top of the BART station.
At 9:15, their eyes met. Jon walked to his usual spot and stood there for a moment, seeming undecided. He scanned the other passengers at the station. The few regulars were there. There was crushed hat guy, and newspaper lady. Family guy and the kids were there as well. There was also angry cell phone guy yelling into his earpiece about missing the margin call, and a scattered assortment of others.
Jon just stood there sweating. What was so terrifying about this? Family guy was yelling at his son to behave and hold his hand. Newspaper lady rustled her paper and snapped it straight. Every noise made him feel jumpy.
Don’t be a chicken.
Jon moved to cross the platform just as the call for the arrival of his train came over the speaker. He sighed. He gave Amy a look that said, “I’m sorry.”, and swore that the next opportunity presented itself he would act on. Jon stepped up to the yellow line next to family guy and his son, who was still throwing a fit. The train began to approach the platform just as the unthinkable occurred.
The son, in one last angry tug managed to rip his hand free from his father’s grasp. But, in doing so, he lost his balance, crossed the yellow line, and fell onto the tracks.
In the split second that it took for newspaper lady, crushed hat guy, angry cell caller and sundry to react in horror, John leapt into the path of the oncoming train. In the final second before the train arrived, its horn blaring and brakes screaming, he flung the boy from the pit of the track line and onto the platform.
Jon didn’t even feel the train hit him.
“It’s funny,” was his last thought. “The things we’re afraid of.”
* * * * *
Amy was unsure of herself as she approached Jon’s mother. Would she be offended at her showing up here, a total stranger?
“Mrs. Banks?” she asked tentatively. A woman, haggard from sleeplessness looked up at her. Amy introduced herself, and they talked for a while. The grief brought them together.
“I’m so sorry this happened, Mrs. Banks,” Amy finally said, putting her arm around the woman. “Is there anything I can do for you?”
“No, dear, I’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. It’s him I’m worried about.”
“Is he awake, can I go in and see him?”
“I believe so, dear. The doctor warned us not to tire him out though. Thank God it just clipped him.”
“What I have to say won’t take long,” Amy assured her.
Amy went in to the hospital room. There, hung like some sad puppet in traction wire and wrapped in casts, bandages, and gauze like a mummy, was Jon. He recognized her immediately.
“Look,” began Amy, “before anything else happens; before a meteor crashes into the earth or Russia launches missiles at us, or I don’t know what – I want you to know one thing: I love you.”
Jon smiled. When he could speak again, the first thing he’d do was tell her he loved her too. Nevertheless, he had a feeling she already knew.
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