A Short Story
The water was cold where I laid.
A small breeze scraped against my face, shaking the leaves from trees and rippling the surrounding water. It was dark. Cold. Isolated.
My fingers were frozen, and my clothes stuck to me like glue. I didn’t want to move for fear of what laid beyond the darkness. At the same time, I wanted to be brave, like the toy soldiers I used to play with my father in our living room, in front of the heat of the fireplace. That heat was gone now and replaced with ice. Those toys are gone now and replaced by only the water and trees that surround me. My father, he’s gone too and I’m alone–isolated–once again.
The sky was empty here and a fog was quickly lapping over the water and trees, hiding them from sight. My mind told me to move, but my body rejected. It’s funny how people say that mind has matter overall, but for me, I am just tired. It’s like I’m drowning. My head is above the water, but my body is being pulled underneath and I can’t breathe. This is how I’ve always felt, especially after my parents died in the car crash a few years ago. I was sent to an orphanage, with the hopes of finding someone who could possibly replace my parents. Nobody could, and nobody seemed to want to. I dwelled over the only memories I had of them and it seemed to make the struggle to breathe, harder. I enveloped myself in the dark and silence of my room, high up in the brick “palace” away from all of the noise and it brought me peace to be alone.
I hardly remember the fire. The flames that raced up the walls, eating away everything at sight, leaving behind piles of ash. Nobody came to wake me, only the warming of the flames as they broke down the door and swept over the room. The warmth the flames penetrated, the rage that fueled their destruction was comforting. They were alone in their destruction and that was a comforting thought as they consumed me. To die is an unknown feat, but to die alone is an even worse ending. For when I woke up alone in this unknown place, my body frozen in water, and nothing around me but the trees and wind, I wish I did something different.
Maybe people don’t make the same mistakes I do. They don’t isolate themselves due to what grief has done to them. They don’t lock themselves up in a room to reminisce over the memories they have, and they probably don’t have fear of losing these memories. Maybe I’m the only person who finds comfort in being alone. There’s something terrible about it all. There is nothing comfortable in isolation, no matter what people may say. It’s all just so…unfortunate.
The wind picked up speed, causing tiny waves in the water around me. I dig my fingers into the muddy earth underneath me and pull my body out of the freezing water. My vision clouded over as I tried to catch my bearings. As the blurriness faded, my eyes locked with a woman. She acknowledged me with a small nod of her head and walked away. Curiosity taking ahold of me, I stand to follow after her. My feet sinking into the ground as I pushed through the water. The woman glided across the meadow, fog crowding around her. The wind picked up again, ever so slightly, whispering in my ears and freezing my cheeks. As the fog lifted around the woman, it revealed an abandoned train station. Gold accented the lampposts, small flames flickering inside their glass doors, towering in front of the station. A gate, tall and medieval looking, connected to the lampposts, blocking the entrance to the building. The woman pushed open the gate and slipped through to the other side. Thinking I may lose her inside the station, I began to run. As I pushed through the gate, then the broad doors of the station, the woman was nowhere to be found. It was as if she simply vanished. The station was completely empty. The ticket booth was boarded up, along with some of the windows. Dust lingered on the few benches in the corners and an old travel pamphlet marked 1947, was the only sign of life. There was no train, only the rusted tracks that were covered by dirt and weeds. The wind whispered slightly, and the coldness was setting in as the sun began to fall behind the trees.
As hours passed, I drifted off to sleep and was awoken by the sound of a whistle. A train was slowing as it reached the station. My hands shook as I walked towards the platform. Smoke was settling around the train and beside the tracks. The conductor smiled at me from underneath his cap, his yellow eyes gleamed in the surrounding darkness.
“Ah, there you are,” an angelic voice exclaimed from behind me.
It was the same woman from before.
“I wondered where you went,” she said, her blue eyes shining. “Come, we must hurry onto the train before it leaves without us.”
The woman led me into a compartment, where she drew the curtains back to let in the darkness.
“The train rides are much more enjoyable when you can see where you’re going,” she stated. As I became comfortable, I began to recall the events that led me here. The fire at the orphanage, where I burned. I should be dead, but I’m not.
“Is something troubling you, child?” the woman asked.
“I should be dead,” I told her, “I don’t understand.”
She acknowledged my statement and then said: “You will understand soon.”
“Is this heaven,” I ask.
“No child. You have not completed what you are meant to. Fate is not done with you. Trust me when I say that the world is not done with you yet.”