This is a short story I wrote for The Runaway Train Challenge on Vocal. If you like it, please read it there!
Every night, I boarded the train. It arrived as I drifted off to sleep. I could hear it coming. The rhythmic sound it made and the longing call of its whistle. Every night, I would travel to places I had been before. I would disembark the train and the conductor would nod, as if he knew me. He would remind me the return train arrives in three hours. I hurried off the train, I wanted to return to who I was before. I wanted to watch my fears, bad choices, and the blatant disregard for myself again and again. I wanted the opportunity for a second chance. And somewhere between dreams and reality, it was being offered.
I rubbed my eyes and looked around. Clouds illuminated the black stoic train. It was busy with people walking around asking for directions. The conductor would tilt his face back and laugh, and tell people they would recognize their exit. People were anxiously awaiting their trips. Every person was traveling alone. The voice of a man echoed through the station, “Passengers, please find your seats.” I cautiously climbed the steps to my window seat. Huge windows lined both sides of the train. One side was a busy city, the other a rural landscape, soon it lured into a rainbow of color as the train headed down the tracks. The clickity-clack calmed my nervous heart. It seemed a minute, yet a lifetime, and my stop was next.
The stable was siting off in the distance. No one was there. The train pulled to a stop. The conductor held my hand as I stepped off the train. He adjusted his hat and said, “We will return in three hours. Enjoy your time here, you have the power to make it stay.” I nodded ambivalently, not sure what he was talking about. I walked to the gate, and out of nowhere my beloved Irish Setter, Sham, ran to me wagging his tail. I dropped to my knees to greet him. Tears filled my eyes. I hugged him and put his face in my hands. I looked in his eyes. I saw me looking back. He licked my salty cheek, and I stood up and said to him, “I only have three hours.” He frolicked off as if it had not been decades that had passed. It was as if yesterday was today. I soon realized I was, for three hours, where I had once been before.