The time in between

The train was a funny place today.  Nothing was as it normally was, or maybe it was and I finally noticed.  What I saw on the train were people, personalities, and events, not just the groggy masses trying to make it from point A to point B without noticing the time in between.

Before the train took off, I was already asked for my ticket.  Most of the conductors know me and don’t ask for my ticket after the first week of the month (I ride with a monthly pass).  The other strange part was that the stop was only 45 seconds, I had just barely made it to the upper level to an open seat, and the conductor wasn’t in my car at the time I boarded; how he appeared made me think of the Polar Express.

Shortly after the train left, a man was escorted back to his seat, the seat directly in front of me, and was lectured (almost yelled at) by the ghost conductor who didn’t know me.  Even though his fare was to take him 90 miles down the track, his smoking addiction earned him an early exit at the station just 20 miles away.  By the strong smell of smoke, I could only guess that he had locked himself in the bathroom or other confined space and had burned through at least two cigarettes.  The look of the smoker, at least from behind, reminded me of my father-in-law.  I felt sorry for him (not because he looked like my father-in-law, but possibly because I envisioned my father-in-law in the stranger’s place).  I hope the man makes it home.  Being 70 miles from home is a far place if you don’t have a car, money, or a friend.

Nearing the end of our trip, I went to the bottom of the car and stood next to a college student who often rides to the same station I do, both of us queuing for the doors to open.  The train stopped seven blocks from the station, waiting for a delayed train to move out of our path.  I’ve always thought this student to be a little OCD, and I was proved right – we got to see someone who was VERY OCD.  Up and down the stairs the man went, mumbling, counting, checking his watch, talking non-sense to the student each time he was at the bottom step.  It was funny to me, though I held in the laugh, when the mildly OCD student whispered, “Crazy,” behind the stair climbing mumbler’s back.

While all this was happening, I was trying to remain unnoticed, trying not to speak for fear of coughing or irritating my already sore throat, and trying not to alter my breathing for fear of having my nose run, again.  I tried to appear like the groggy mass, going from point A to point B without noticing the time in between.  However, I made mental notes of the people and events I saw… potential material for stories in the future.

About R. Garrett Wilson

I am a member of the Stanislaus World Builders writing group and have participated in the FSFW writing group. I have written one drama that was based on the book of Mark and performed at my church in 2007. My story, Journeyer, is published in Analog Magazine and a novelette, The Bakrra Encounter, in the FSFW 2010 anthology, I Dreamed a Crooked Dream. I also took part in the community novel project, Stanislaus Reads and Writes, and have a chapter in their novel, Ashes in a Teardrop. Beyond writing, I enjoy road trips, photography, woodworking, watching tennis and cycling, and reading.
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One Response to The time in between

  1. Loved this post! Sad and funny. Tense and light. Wonderful!

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