Wednesday, March 14, 2012

KekahJ week 95: Escape


Picture 1

Picture 2

KekahJ's Choice: Picture 2


She sighed and leaned her head against the windowpane. The glass was cool against her cheek and the warmth of her breath created a hazy mist that obscured her view. She reached up and swiped a hand across the glass, clearing away the moisture. However, her view wasn’t improved much. The train was almost completely shrouded in a thick, swirling mist.

The landscape that zoomed past her window was breathtakingly beautiful, but the fog made her uneasy, as if she’d be unable to see something, or someone, approaching until it was too late.

She glanced nervously around the crowded compartment. She’d already memorized the faces of everyone present, but she studied them again, partly from nerves, and partly out of habit. As she finished, she sighed, looking down at her watch. She wondered if they’d reach their destination on schedule. The train had left the station a few minutes late, something that had nearly sent her into a full fledged panic, but they’d made good time since then.

Her stomach growled and she wondered if she could chance grabbing a sandwich from the cart at the next stop. She tapped her foot nervously for a moment, then slid it backward until she felt the bag she’d shoved under her seat. Her nervous fingers fidgeted with the zipper as she pulled out her wallet and surreptitiously counted her money again. There was no need. She knew exactly how much money she had down the the last cent. It was money she’d scrimped and saved and stashed away for weeks in preparation for this day.

Despite her constant fear, she must have dozed off at some point, because when she opened her eyes again, the train was slowing and pulling into the station. The fog was less dense here than it had been out in the open country, but it still swirled ominously around the train as it slowed to a stop. Her fellow passengers began to stir, many of them preparing to depart. She envied them their looks of boredom. For most of them today was a day like any other. Just another leg of their daily commute. One more exercise in tedium. For her, it was the flight of her life. Everything was riding on this day, this trip. She’d painstakingly planned out every aspect of this day, every detail, and now there was no turning back.

She yawned and stood, stretching quickly before retrieving her bag from beneath her seat. Her stomach growled again and she decided that if she was fast, she’d have enough time to grab a bite to eat before the train pulled away from the station again.

Once off the train, she glanced around nervously. Every stranger that passed her made her jump a little. She pulled her sweatshirt tighter and tried to melt into the crowd. She was relieved when she reached the sandwich cart and there was no line. She quickly mumbled her order and waited impatiently as the man prepared her sandwich. It seemed to take forever. Behind her, the train emitted a shrill whistle, warning passengers of its impending departure. Finally, the man placed the sandwich in her hand. She turned and jogged back to the train.

The gray mist still swirled around her, and she had one foot on the platform when she felt the hand on her arm.

“Don’t make a scene.”

It was impossible to describe the complicated mixture of emotions that flooded her at the sound of his voice. It was a voice she’d know anywhere. A voice that stopped her dead in her tracks. Her hands became unable to grasp anything anymore, and her sandwich fell to the ground, lost and forgotten in the swirling mist.

He pulled her back away from the train and propelled her along the platform. She kept her head down and followed him without incident. It would do her no good to resist anyway. If there was anything that time had taught her, it was that compliance always yielded the quickest, least painful outcome.

The train whistle sounded for a final time and the train began to move again, pulling slowly away from the station, unaware and unsympathetic to the fact that she was no longer on board. She watched it leave as silent tears began to stream down her cheeks. All of her planning, all of her thorough preparation had come to this. She’d been so cautious, as careful as she knew how to be, yet it was still all for naught.

She wanted to let the despair she felt take over. She wanted to give into it, to scream and yell and stomp her feet, but she couldn’t afford to feel that much. She couldn’t afford to have emotions anymore. So instead, she did what she always did. She swiped at her tears, drying them on the sleeve of her jacket with her free arm. She took a deep breath, and she replaced all of the feelings; the hope, the despair, the anger, the pain, even the strange relief she’d felt; and she pushed them back down to the tiny place deep inside where they lived. Once they were safely locked away, she let the numbness spread.

She was good at this part. She’d done it countless times before. If there was one thing she knew how to be, it was numb. By the time they reached his waiting truck in the parking lot, her face was a blank, unreadable mask. He seemed pleased by this. He smiled at her as he opened her door. She did not smile back. She knew what was coming, and even the numbness couldn’t keep all the pain out.