Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Delayed

The train was late. Again. The garbled voice on the public address system didn't say how long it would be, it just said it was 'delayed'. That sounded ominous. He cursed under his breath. Every minute spent stuck here on the platform would make it more difficult, he knew. That was the trouble with living out in the suburbs - all you got was one train every hour and even that never showed up on time. He wondered what the trouble was with this one. Probably the usual story. Some commuter shuttle being given priority over this regional line.

Maybe it was something more exotic though. Maybe there'd been an accident of some sort. Maybe some poor soul had thrown himself under the train. It happened every few weeks. They would all read about it in the paper the next morning.

He toyed with the idea of buying a paper to kill the time. No, what was the point? There would be nothing of interest, and besides he had very little money now - he'd set out with barely enough. He poked around in his pockets and found a half eaten packet of M&Ms. It was all he had eaten today. He just hadn't got around to it. He pulled out the packet and emptied the last few pieces into his palm. Popped them all into his mouth in one go, as though they were medicine. Something about the sweet taste of the chocolate in his mouth sickened him, set his teeth on edge. He crumpled the now empty packet in his fist, threw it angrily into the bin.

Almost ten minutes late now. He could feel the anxiety building up inside him, the restlessness like an itching between his shoulders, driving him forward. He walked to the end of the platform, peered down the track, as though hoping to conjure the train up. Still no sign. No fresh announcements either. Come on, come on, how long was this going to take? He walked up and down the platform, swearing under his breath. That wouldn't do. People were starting to stare. He mustn't draw attention to himself - not now - that was the worst thing he could do. He turned around and looked the old biddies who were watching him in the eye. He gave them a polite smile - half apologetic, half frustrated. The smile of a man who is ashamed to have lost his temper but hopes you understand why. Then he turned around and walked to the end of the platform again.

Sixteen minutes and counting. Suddenly, the loudspeaker crackled into action. The train was coming! It would be here soon. Right. One final check in his pockets to make sure the paper was still there. He could see the train now, the engine rounding the curve by the river, approaching the station with an air of barely concealed impatience. Behind him he could hear the other passengers stirring. Papers were being folded, bags were being lifted off the ground. There was a sense of anticipation in the air. He didn't look around though. His eyes were fixed on the train, willing it to come faster, willing it to arrive. It had to be this one, he knew. It had to be now.

He waited until the front of the engine had almost reached the platform. Then, with a quick rush forward, he threw himself in its path.

[Hat-tip to Shoe-fiend, whose post two weeks ago vaguely inspired this]

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

*!!!*

~N.

Krithi said...

God...WHYYYY???

The Man Who Wasnt There said...

ha ha..good one...;)

err...Am I not supposed to be laughing? :|

Ever wondered what suicides were like before the advent of the railways? ofcourse ofcourse there are "other" ways but inspit eof which I wonder why go for this option...

Swathi said...

he could have chosen any train, y only that train which was late??? **wonder***

30in2005 said...

How morbid!

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

Aha! So this is what happened. You've beautifully captured the impatience and agony of waiting.

dazedandconfused said...

Yup, was reminded of Shoefiend's piece while reading this and was wondering whether you would make him a suicide case or a suicide bomber...

What's wrong with me?!

Falstaff said...

N: :-).

krithi: Ah, that I'm afraid we'll never know.

man who wasn't there: I suspect you're not - though personally I thought the idea of someone having to wait for a train to kill himself under is pretty funny. But then I'm depraved. And yes, how did people kill themselves before trains. Or Tolstoy?

swathi: actually, I explain that in the story - the first paragraph tells you that there's only one train every hour. He doesn't have a choice.

30in2005: Ah, my middle name. Actually, my middle name is Wilberforce, but you know.

shoe-fiend: thanks. Yes, now you know.

Falstaff said...

d&c: :-). I actually did think about making him a suicide bomber. Then figured it might be in poor taste, given the bombings earlier this month. Plus, well, I think the story is more interesting this way.

Alex said...

I really thought you're gonna make him a suicide bomber.. thanks for linking Shoe fiend's post, both made an interesting read.

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