Dec. 8th, 2011

strryeyedgrrl: (Default)
He didn't stop running until he reached his street. Then, the better part of his brains took over and reminded him that his neighbors might get suspicious if they saw him sprinting to and into his own apartment. He slowed down his pace until he reached his apartment door, on the ground floor of a four-plex that his landlord had called "antique". He'd called it "ancient" later when describing it to friends, but the truth of the matter was that it was cheap, it was cozy and it was theirs.

His hand was frozen on the key, just having been slid home in the lock, thoughts of those old friends rushing back to his mind. They'd all faded away, too, but whose fault had that been? Had it been his? Had it been hers? How long had it been, anyway? He sighed and shook his head to scatter the memories. He supposed it didn't matter. Besides, he had more pressing matters to attend to.

First and foremost: What the fuck?

Closing the door behind him, he slid to the ground with his back to the door. He'd left a window open and the curtain there blew in with the light breeze and rustled up against the wall. Even the children outside had stopped their shrieking. There was silence around him, enough that he thought he could hear his upstairs neighbor's voice talking on the telephone, ordering a pizza.

At least, he thought it was a pizza. Distracted, he listened a bit closer for a moment, then shook his head again.

He'd honestly felt the push at his back as he'd stood waiting for the train to take him on to the great hereafter. Then he'd stumbled over his own feet, tumbling to the ground beside the tracks again. Again, in that brief moment right at the end, he'd seen the conductor of the train with the look of shock on his face. He'd registered, briefly, that it was a different engineer than the night before.

He pulled his knees up to his chest and hugged them close to him, resting his chin on his knees. He tried to still his mind, just to think clearly, but it was difficult. He had so many questions that he was pretty sure that no one would be able to answer. Who was there left to talk to? Furthermore, who the hell would believe him? Finally, he just sighed and closed his eyes.

When he woke, he wasn't sure how long he'd slept. It was dark outside, though, and he could hear the faint hum of his neighbor's television, playing one of the late shows. His body ached from having slept in such a strange position, all curled up in front of the door. He stood and stretched and listened as his stomach grumbled. He hadn't eaten all day and, suddenly, he was famished.

He tugged on the grey striped hoodie he'd left on the couch by the door. Patting his pockets to determine that he did have his wallet on him (why did he need it if he was going to go stand in front of an oncoming train, he'd asked himself many times), he turned and opened the front door. When he did, something that had been rolled into a tube and tucked beside the door knob and the door frame fluttered to the ground. He bent and picked it up, unrolling it to see what advertisement he'd been hit with this time.

A smiling woman beamed back at him from the black-and-white photocopied ad. She was bent into a yoga position and the business name at the bottom of the page seemed to indicate that was the exact purpose of this ad.

"DO SOMETHING AMAZING TODAY!" the ad screamed at the top of the page. "BE SOMETHING AMAZING TODAY!" it read at the bottom. In the middle of the page, in slightly smaller font, it read, "Be more than you think you're worth - be a yoga hero!"

"Well, that's a load of bupkis," he muttered to himself and tossed the advertisement back into his apartment. It seemed a little overboard for a yoga course plug - kind of like the screaming radio ads for the monster truck rallies he remembered from his youth.

Giving the flyer no more thought, he closed the door behind him and headed down the darkened street, his shadow trailing long behind him in the glare of the streetlights.

* * * * *

She still wasn't entirely sure where she was. This city was too big for her. She'd pulled into a gas station not more than twenty minutes ago, hoping she could get her bearings, but she was still unsure of where exactly the motel was where her husband was holed up.

She'd been prepared to leave him. She'd packed the children up and sent them off to their grandmother's. They'd be there until the end of summer, picking berries and catching fireflies. While they were gone, she'd been able to envision herself packing their rooms, packing the living room, packing the moving truck. They'd stay there with her parents for a little while and then head on out on their own.

Now she was here, though, in this unfamiliar city and without any idea the address of the motel and only a vague telling of the name. Her husband's co-workers had called her to tell her of his "breakdown" and asked her to come fetch him. She wondered if this would change her plans, if she would be able to still be strong enough to leave.

She also felt partially responsible for his meltdown. If she hadn't texted him to tell him that they were leaving, would he have been going through this? What if he'd had an accident with the train? She'd never been good at calculating when he'd be stopping and where, so she was always making mistakes like this.

She sighed and decided to try asking for help from the convenience store cashier. She opened the door of her old sedan (with its faint smell of spilled juices over years past) and got out, stretching her arms above her head. Across the parking lot, a man in a striped jacket was walking towards the convenience store as well. When she bent her arms back down to her sides, the man stopped in mid-stride.

He seemed to be staring at her.

She was about to avert her eyes from him, head into the convenience store and ask the man behind the counter if he knew where the half-of-a-name-motel was, when she heard the tires squealing. She heard shouting. She thought she saw the man in the striped jacket start running.

All told, she was pretty much confused out of her mind until she hit the ground with the man in the striped jacket on top of her. The sound of screeching metal continued on and the air seemed to fill with a brown, dusty, smelly smoke.

She didn't realize that she was cursing (and loudly, at that) until the noise abated and the man pulled himself off of her and then offered a hand to assist her up.

"What happened?" she asked him.

"Crazy driver," he replied, seeming a little out of breath. "Drove right into the damn building." He paused, taking a moment to really look at her. "Are you okay?"

Dazed, she looked down at herself. "I guess so. That was amazing."

The man blinked - once, then twice.

He was silent.

Need more background on The Guy and the Train? This season, I'm going back to my roots as a writer and tackling the land of fiction. This season of LJ Idol, for me, is an exercise in that: In stretching my creative legs to build characters and moments and places off of a single flash of inspiration found in a tent in the middle of Oregon. If you'd like more context, check out my previous entries. Above all, though, enjoy the ride.


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