Monday, February 10, 2014

~~On the Train to Venice: Compartment One~~

DISCLAIMER....This story is not a story. It is a small exercise I did some years before. It's just a series of train compartments, telling the story of each occupant. Here. Have Compartment One.

Compartment 1, Occupant One: Annie

I settle in my seat, giving a brief smile to the dirty kid occupying the seat across from me. The young man accompanying him glances up from his laptop, flashes a grin, before going back to his rather noisy game of pinball. Good. No one feels the need to talk.

I turn to the window, stare out at the world flashing by, going on without me. Ever since the Day came, it’s been doing that, flashing by while I watch through a window as everything that matters to me dwindles away in a black tide of moonlight. I feel a fresh tear slip its easy, sensuous way down my cheek, and wipe it away before any one notices with my fist.

Ever since the Day came, I’ve been finding it easier and easier to cry. It’s so hard, to keep in the pain when the glass overflowed with it. Like trying to staunch the flow of a tsunami with a Kleenex.

I pull out my little notebook, my art pencils, and scribble in a small picture of a wolf howling at a full moon, its sad eyes filled with a pain that others never will know: The loneliness of a lone wolf. Strange, how I haven’t tried howling yet. I’ve tried talking, thinking, writing, drawing, doing anything that eHow has suggested. But why bother? Even if I get past the Day, past the horror, how can I get back to the world? It won’t stop for me to get on again, just leaving outside my window, watching it go by without me.

My thoughts are broken into with a sledge hammer courtesy of the Pinball guy: “Hey, darlin’, why you cryin’?”

I snort. Why, someone bothers to ask! “Got no reason, man. Got no reason. Just tired, y’know?”

“Yeah. I get that. Hey, none o’ my biz, sorry for crowdin’ your space,” he replies, going back to his game.

Putting the glass back up on my window.

I look out at the world going by, leaving me alone, forsaken, forgotten. Just like Logan did, except he didn’t leave just me in his wake. Eating his dust.

He left the whole world behind. I wonder if I’ll ever have that courage, to leap from the cliff and dive forever, plummet into eternity. Maybe I’m daring fate, going to the City on Water.

But wouldn’t it be worth it, to be with Logan again?

Enough. I need to focus, remember where I’m going and why.

Venice, and my last birthday gift from Logan: One ticket to Venice.

Maybe he wanted me to die, to join him.

The train wheels groan and shriek one last time, halting our passage.

Welcome to Venice.

Compartment One, Occupant Two: Jay Blue

I gotta get out of here, afore this train stops. Gotta hotfoot my way outta sight, leave Mr. Perfect eating my dust. Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go.

The girl across from us is crying her eyes out, watching the world go on by, just like I am. Except I’m ticking away the meters to my final destination, where it’s ‘clap me in irons, lock me up in a room half my size, and throw away the keys.’ She tried to smile at me earlier, but man, am I way too focused on getting my ass outta here to even try to smile back. Mr. Perfect Older Brother offers her some line, but she’s focused, too. Focused on not giving him an answer.

Huh, Maybe the two of us have something in common, after all.

I kick and swing my heels against each other, staring down at the mud, tar, and God knows what else stuffed down my nails and smeared down my body and clothes. The sewer run hadn’t been one of my best moves, but hey, bought me enough time to make a couple of miles afore my big bro found me throwing my feet on the main for a set-down. If you ain’t a tramp and don’t speak like me, it means he caught me begging for dinner in somebody’s house on the main street, instead of wrapped in a napkin, like I usually score it.

I rubbed at a blob on my knee, yelped when I realized that the dirt was the only thing covering my the bone of my knee. Ah, crud, Guess I took a worse tumble than I thought when I hit the grit to dodge my brother and the bull. But, hey, should’ve expected that. You jump off a train going fifty miles an hour onto wet gravel, you don’t exactly except to run away unhurt. But I still managed to get into the sewer without him noticing, right?

And, trust me, it was no easy task, lifting that manhole cover with a broken two-by-four. But I managed it, and I’d have been dodging him still, were it not for my cursed belly.

I look at the girl, anywhere but at Mr. Perfect. She’s shifting in her seat, her eyes glazed. Lost to the world. Tears slip down her pearly white cheeks, slip off scarlet lips, fall from a soft chin. I blink, and give myself a good kick, knocking some of the dirt off my leg, a cockroach scampering off my leg and under the seat. I wince, glance at my bro, but he’s way too immersed in his game to notice that he and I might have unwanted passengers.

He was still tapping away at the keyboard when the train stopped. The girl left, tears still slipping down her cheeks, unnoticed. I wondered what her story was for an instant, before I took to my feet and ran off the train.

Welcome to Venice.

Hopefully I won’t stay too long.

Compartment One, Occupant 3: James

Finally, I found him. Thirteen year old Jay Blue sits beside me, shifting in his seat. I play pinball, taking my mind off the fact that I’m here to put my brother in prison. Or, in other words, take him back to Mom and Dad after he’d ran away three years ago. The kid gave me quite the chase, and I guess I’m sorry I showed up in his brand-new, maybe much better, life only to take him away from it, but it couldn’t be helped. He couldn’t stay out here. He just couldn’t. Who knew what he had been through?

The red-haired girl who occupies the seat across from us cries silently, staring out at the wonderful world as it flies by. I try to ask her what’s wrong, maybe offer her some comfort, but if I go over there, Jay Blue’ll pull a runner. I can’t risk losing him again. He is just too important to us, to my family, to let him go away again.

I look at him when he looks at the girl. I see him examine her, and smile sadly, thinking, Oh, yeah, he hit puberty, alright. I wish I could tell him I was sorry, tell him I loved him, do anything to keep him from hating me. But I guess that that ship has sailed long ago.

I go back to my game, winning easily, wishing I could be doing anything else. Jay Blue glances back at me briefly, a harsh look rising in his eyes, much different from the one he was giving to the girl. Like she ever will notice, much less care.

I tap away at the keys, mind elsewhere. When I hear him yelp, I turn to him in shock, my hand rising from the keyboard with a remnant of the brotherly instinct, but he doesn’t notice, and even if he did, he’d just shrug it off. I follow his eye to his knee, see his fingers pick at torn skin, wipe the dirt away, revealing the white of bone. Oh my god. I knew he’d been hurt when I saw him limping as he ran, but cut to the bone? Oh my god, what did I do to him?

I know that, hurt leg or not, he’ll pull a runner when the train stops, and, as I lived with my family for twice the time he did, I get that, but should I let him go? Should I just let him go, leave behind the control freaks, the perfectionists, the social climbers we call our parents? They would hate me, and maybe disown me, if they knew I’d let him get away, but  maybe I could trick them. Fool them into believing he’d gotten away by mistake, and just let him go, and not even bother trying to get him back? Or, just maintain the pretext of searching so he can get away from them?

Is it worth giving up my little brother to an uncertain future to get him away from Mom and Dad and their influence? Or, more specifically, do I let him run away to keep him out of all AP classes, calc, an Ivy League tuition, a future as a lawyer, and a ‘presentable’ woman you hate for a wife?

The thought of ‘wife’ makes my decision. Mom was already searching the totem poles for mine, and I was only twenty-five.

There’s no way I can let him go through that.

The train slows, its shriek and whine telling me we’d arrived in Venice.

Jay Blue stands, but I mime being focused on shutting down my laptop, inwardly begging him to run. When the girl leaves and I still haven’t looked up, he flashes me a wink, grabs his torn backpack, and sprints away.

Welcome to Venice, little brother. I wish you luck, wherever luck may take you.

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