Almost

A short story

He thought she’d be here and there she was.

She was sitting on the bare cement block that hadn’t seen paint for years and the wind whipped her hair around her face. She wasn’t wearing shoes.

moody3

He walked up the steps that ended at the platform and watched her. She didn’t move except to pull her sleeve down around her arm. She rubbed her nose and didn’t see him.

He walked toward her and stopped when she looked up. Her eyes were unfocused. The wind teased her hair around her head and she cast her eyes downward.

He stepped forward and opened his mouth. She opened hers first.

“Don’t think that you’re going to convince me because you’re not.”

“I know.”

“I’m not going back, I’m staying right here and I’m not going back.”

“I know.”

He looked past her, down the rail yard and the tracks that bent with the current of the trees. The leaves were beginning to turn brown with the season. He heard the distant whine of an engine.

He took another step toward her. She didn’t look at him.

“I think you should go away.”

“Please, hear me out first.”

“You should go away. My ride’ll be here soon.”

He sat down next to her on the block. She swiveled herself away from him and sprawled her hands around her face.

Whispered, “Just go away.”

The sky was beginning to darken, the leaves to throw weird shadows on the wooden tracks. Silhouettes like that always gave him the creeps; he didn’t like imitations of things, things that weren’t real.

train

He hovered a hand over her shoulder but then drew it back.

“I don’t want you thinkin’ that nobody here cares.”

She shook her head in her hands.

“Don’t say that.”

The train whistled again in the distance. She lifted her head and looked to the noise and on her face were tracks of black trailing down her cheeks which she didn’t wipe away.

He looked to the noise too but then back at her eyes. One last chance.

“I’m saying this because I don’t want you to leave, you don’t have to leave. Before I came here I didn’t think I had the nerve to ask you this, but now I think I do. It’s bad, I know, it’s bad for me too, but you don’t have to get away from it all to feel different.”

Her eyes flashed with bitterness. He saw a different hell reflected in them.

“What do you know about how bad it is for me, huh? You think you’re gonna get me not to go by coming here convincing me things are gonna change, that I’m gonna wake up tomorrow and feel good? ‘Cause that’s not reality.”

The sound of groaning tracks was growing stronger.

“I know you’re angry. I am too. But you’re not alone in this.”

She got up and walked to the edge of the platform and looked down the empty tracks.

She turned back to him. Her eyes were set.

“I have to go.”

He got up and walked to her. Gently he drew his arms around her. She flinched but didn’t push him away. He bent his head to hers.

“Go away if you want but take this with you: there’s someone here who feels–”

His words were cut off by the sound of a rushing train.

She shifted her eyes upward to his and he could see the salty water welling up and he knew he was close.

“I just don’t want you runnin’ away without knowing that.”

He felt her sigh into him, her arms coiled into his chest and her eyes making moisture on his shirt. She said something about going home.

“I can be that,” he reminded her.

A train was coming.

They stayed that way for a long time.

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