Compartment Two, Occupant One: Lindsey
No one gets a kid like me. The pretty In Crowd Individual, one of the people who causes so much pain, so much suicide, takes the seat across from me. I narrow my eyes at her. Teeth clenched, I return to my book, identifying well with Carrie. She did what was right, killing all those people. All those jerks who care so little about the one important thing in life: Death. The end of all things. The only important thing about life is ending it.
She did them a favor, that Carrie. Sent them where she belonged, before she went there herself. A stupid jock walks in, sits beside the social climber girl who's probably a cheerleader. Great. Just great. Wouldn't it be nice to send them where they belonged: Off this train?
I go back to my book, focusing on the words. They don't give a shit about me, about anyone but their so-called perfect selves. So why should I care a thing about them?
A girl walks in, and I look up, smelling her. Perfume. Cheap shampoo. The woods. I stare back at my book, figuring she'll go and leave me be. But she doesn't. She goes straight for me and I flinch, covering it by resurrecting my glare. What in hell does she think she's doing? A girl like her doesn't belong here.
She sits beside me, puts her bag between her black-enclosed knees, and pulls out a small red leather case. From inside that case she tugs a smaller version of an iPad, but the screen says it's a Kobo. Never heard of it. She smiles at me when she sees me looking, and turns it on. When it uploads, there's a list of what she's reading. She hits a button, and the book uploads.
And it's Carrie.
She glances at the cover of mine, laughs cheerily, and before you know it, we're talking.
We talk all the way there.
When the train pulls into the station she bids me goodbye, hands me a post-it note from inside her laptop case with her name and number on it, and she goes.
I go, too.
Time to see my father.
Time to face the worst demon Hell has to offer. I head off the train, my unbroken glare strong as ever.
Welcome to Venice.
Compartment Two, Occupant Two: Nina
I scamper on the train, yelping with delight. I am loving this! Venice, here I come! I sing all the way to my seat, and settle across from a Gothic teenaged boy, who glares at me before going back to reading his Stephen King novel. It's Carrie, I notice. Strange title. My best friend is named Carrie, and when she forgets to brush her curly blond hair, it's a Stephen King cover right there on top of her head.
A big, muscled young man walks in, and takes the seat beside me, smiling. He doesn't talk, though. He's listening to some song I don't know. And doing it rather loudly. But, hey, it's got a good beat, so whoopee! Fine with me! Long as you can dance to it, you can be listening to rap, for all I care.
I tap my toes to his music as a young woman slips beside the Goth guy, and she, surprisingly, pulls out a copy of the exact same book, and they start talking about it. What a pair of losers! First there was the black-leather, pierced eyebrows, tongue ring, and more earrings than I can count boy, and now there's a stylish, well-dressed, creative-looking rounded girl too!
Another person joins us, and he, too, goes straight for the Loser Seat. He's thin, with uncombed hair and massive grey eyes. He looks like he belongs there, too. Just a bit too much of the girl in his walk for my taste.
The last person to join us, a rather happy-looking young man, sits beside the Jock, crowding the big guy against me. Mr. Muscles notices, and smiles. I shake my head at him, remembering Kay back at home.
Kay was my boyfriend of three months, and he was tough, strong, just a bit mean, and he was so extremely popular. Top of the totem pole kind of popular. Ever girl who's anybody was after him, and a few still are, until he walked up to me one day and asked me out in the cafeteria. Right in front of everybody!
I smile when I think of him, barely noticing when the train picks up speed. The hours fly by as I tap my toes and grin to the music, feeling Kay's hands spinning me around at prom , my perfect dress flying around me. He's wearing a gorgeous black tux, a single red rose stuck into his shirt, and the music is pumping through us like a steam engine, or like the train I'm on now. He kisses me, and just as the people are aaaahing, the wheels break into my music, and I hop to my feet happily, almost forgetting to grab my purse on the rush out the door to enjoy my birthday present.
Thank you, Kay!
Welcome to Venice!
Compartment Two, Occupant Three: Eric
I can't believe my dad is forcing me to go to Venice to meet with him. It's supposedly this place on water where you can't play sports and all you can do is eat some stuff called gelato and talk about the sun.
My dad is such a big-shot geek. He talks about books and stuff like they're actually more important than sports, and he is so disappointed in me. But he totally loves Jet, the little bohemian babe he's got for a daughter. My step-sister's a writer, and she is obsessed with this band from the sixties, Simon and Garfunkel, or something gay like that. He adores her geekiness. How stupid could a father be?
I'm at the top of the school, and he talks so much about his daughter and her IB classes and her genius-level IQ, never even bothering to mention that I was crowned Prom King. And guess who was Prom Queen? Yep. Miss Cheerleader Aubrey Johansen, the top babe of the school.
While Jet is at the bottom, running around doing art and writing stories that the teachers swear are awesome.
What do teachers know?
But there's one bright spot to this lame trip: I spy an empty seat behind a cute cheerleader, and take it. I notice her noticing my arms and legs, and give myself a mental grin…. Aubrey was a world away. If no one came in….
But then my mood's screwed. I spy a Goth sitting curled on the seat across from me, glaring at me like I'M the social reject, and I glare right back at him. He goes back to his book, not caring.
A girl, bit overweight but wearing a low enough neckline and with a narrow enough waist to more than make up for it, slips onto the train.
Grinning in a way she had to know, I slapped the set beside me.
"Come sit down, babe." I called to her.
She ignored me, muttered something that sounded like, "Vapid vacuous non-entity," and walked right over to the Goth.
Another social reject?
Not worth my time, then.
Going back to focusing on the cheerleader chick, I think about her and the things I'd do to her if the Social Rejects hadn't gotten into the compartment.
But, for one reason, I get rather happy they're there. A kid climbs on and doesn't give us a glance, heading straight for the Goth boy and the reader, who have started yammering over some lame book called Carrie. A strange-looking kid gets on, and takes a seat in the only one available, shoving me against the girl, and squeezing her between me and the wall.
Oh, yeah. This is going to be quite the ride.
When the brakes screech, I walk off the train and duck to the side, so I can follow the cheerleader to wherever she's staying.
Maybe me and her can get a little closer.
Welcome to Venice.
Compartment Two, Occupant Four: Autumn
Call me Autumn. Or Fall, if you think you're clever. Believe you me, buddy mine: You're not clever! And, worse yet, don't you dare think that this is a clever pick up line: "I think I'm falling for Fall." Or: "I'm falling. Fall, mind if I fall on you?"
I have heard those FAR too much not to think they're funny.
And I can also turn those boys off with one sentence: "Did you need to have a concilliabule with all of the other boys who tried that line and failed, or did you come up with it yourself?"
Every time, those turned-down suitors were too befuddled by the thirteen letter word I was using to come up with a reply beyond the range of incoherent babbling.
Having a living, breathing, walking, talking dictionary for a brother really does help sometimes.
Even though he does get annoying, correcting your grammar every time you talk, and your grammar AND spelling every time he sees you write anything--he'll even correct my spelling on texts!
But back to my story.
I take a seat beside this awesome-looking Goth guy--why am I always attracted to the wierdos? Is it because I am one?--and completely ignore the lascivious invitation from a really hot guy who looks like a football player and has already gotten one hot girl shoved up against the wall.
Figuring that, if I gave him my usual charentiesm, he'd leave me alone and I'd stop getting gymnophoria, I mutter to him as I take my seat, "Vapid vacuous non-entities are SO not my type."
He stops mentally undressing me.
I really confused you, didn't I?
Okay, here's my mini-dictionary: Concilliabule means 'secret meeting of people who are hatching a plot', charentiesm means 'artfully veiled insult', gymnophoria means 'the sensation that someone is mentally undressing you', and (my personal favorite) vapid vacuous non-entity means 'dull, unimportant AND unintelligent nothing.'
Once again, I rock.
For the entire ride there, me and the boy I'd sat beside (after discovering we were reading the same book, of all things!) talked about the relative merits of the renowned horror novelist Stephen King versus the epic story teller R. Scott Bakker. When the conversation moved to Dean Koontz versus Patrick Ness, the gay guy who'd sat down beside me joined in eagerly, and the conversation ended on a who-knew-the-biggest-word competition.
I won with the most abstract word I knew,
'Hippopotomonstroses-quipdalian', which means 'pertaining to long words.'
Lindsey got pretty close with 'Honorificabilitudinitatibus', which means 'with honor'.
Delwyn, the gay guy, committed a witzelsucht, which means 'a feeble attempt at humor', and called him a philosophunculist, which means that he called him a guy who pretends to know more than he does just to impress others.
From there, the conversation descended as each boy sought the recumbent bus, the 'either verbal or physical knockout blow.'
I merely relaxed and became thelemic, which means that I permitted them to do as they liked.
I drifted the rest of the way there, watching happily as the two of them argued all the way off the train and exchange phone numbers before parting company.
Hmmm, I wonder if Lindsey knew Delwyn was gay…?
Welcome to Venice.
Compartment Two, Occupant Five: Delwyn
I didn't know what I was getting trying to save a life and also go, seeking out a new one. I knew it was not going to be as fabulous as Aidan told me it would be before tossing me my bag and riding off into the sunset on his motorcycle, leaving me to board the train alone.
But screw my ex boyfriend!
I scramble easily onboard the train, find myself in a compartment with a pair of seats left--one beside a bohemian girl and a Gothic lad, another beside a football player (WAY too muscular for my taste! He'd break me in half) and a cheerleader who was giving him the silent treatment. Do you have to ask which seat I took?
I settle my skinny butt down beside the bohemian, and she gives me a swift grin before going back to her debate about the various merits of Stephen King versus R. Scott Bakker. I let 'em talk, figuring I might as well drift and think 'bout the way Aidan's hair flies back when he's going fast, and the wild grin on his face he flashed me whenever he careened madly down the road with me hugging him tightly from behind, straddling the bike.
I notice the convo going on beside me as it gets way too fabulous not to join. They're talking about Dean Koontz!
He'd never written a gay guy, but who needs one when he has Odd Thomas?
Before you know it, me the fabulous biker accessory, Autumn the way-fabulous bohemian, and Lindsey the too-fabulously-tough-to-be-real Goth boy were talking like we'd known each other our whole lives.
I adored the change from the yammering Aidan and I managed to call conversations. When we weren't kissing or shopping, we didn't say much of anything but asking each other how each other's days went.
And then he had me in bed, and nothing mattered.
Oh, man, these two reminded me WAY too much of Logan….
I remembered the times we'd laughed together, his girlfriend Annie never thinking that, every time he kissed her, he thought o' me, and not o' her.
He'd committed suicide about a week after we'd first kissed.
Do I blame myself?
Oh, hell, yeah.
Was I going to Venice so I could stop Annie from joining him in death-by-drowning?
Oh, hell, maybe.
Maybe I wanted to join 'im, too.
The wheels gave a fabulous screech and I said farewell to the fabulous people I had spent the entire ride talking with, before scrambling off the train, looking for Annie.
And also for a canal deep enough to die in, and hidden enough to hide in until it was all over. Fabulously over.
But, before I could enjoy the ambience, I trade my cell number and email address for my companions', taking special care with Lindsey's.
Maybe, just maybe….
Welcome to Venice.
Compartment Two, Occupant Six: Joel
I brush my hair back and climb onto the train. I find a seat in a compartment, but the only one left was beside a big teenager. Gulping, I scramble onto the train, keeping my head down. I curl up tightly against the wall, giving the teenager as much room as I could possibly give, but he still pretends like I'm taking more than my fair share, and squeezing the poor girl against the wall. I wince, but a guy across the way shoots me a look without seeming to realize he was doing it, before going back to talking with his companions. I want so badly to join them, but I was over here and I could barely hear them over the big guy's music….
But I guess I was used to being on the edge of things.
Stephanie had been my only friend, and when she joined a group that refused to accept me, I was left alone. Unhappy.
I know that the three across from me would accept me if I only dared to try, but why bother if I can't trust them?
And they'd just betray me, anyways.
Leave me alone.
I gazed out the window in the compartment door, looking out to the little hallway that connected compartments. Should I see if I could find an empty one? But, no, if no one was yelling at me or turning away from me, maybe I could just stay here on the edge of things?
But I knew I couldn't. I was too LAME not to be with them! They'd never accept me…that is, if they actually knew I was there.
They usually don't.
I never got girls. They were so out there--especially Liana, the girl of my dreams. I never understood her. But I never understood everybody.
I never danced with anybody, neither. Was never asked, and couldn't ask.
My life sucks.
When we moved, I left behind every last person I knew. And, when I arrived, every one hated me. I dressed wrong, talked wrong, acted wrong….
I WAS wrong.
And now I was going to live with my uncle for a week in the City on Water.
Was it going to be any different?
I gotta try, though.
I just have to try.
The wheels screech and I flinch, before sprinting off the train. No one notices me, either off the train or anywhere else.
No one ever does
Welcome to Venice.