I recently entered a ghost story contest and two recent posts were my entries. My first entry was about my experience with psychosis, which was easy for me to write. However, I decided to take a photo and write a fictional story as well. I didn’t win but I had a lot of fun. I’m always proud of what I imagined so I decided to post it on FtB. Here is my second entry.
A ticket to nowhere
On a late summer night, after the cicadas have died down, there is a rumble in the distance. It’s ten minutes after bedtime and two sisters are getting ready to go to bed. A slight whistle grows louder and the girls shiver. The vibrations in the floorboards send icy shivers that quickly rise from their feet to their curls. Every night they hear the train even though the tracks were removed years ago.
Their father tells them it’s nothing. Go sleep. But the girls stay awake until the whistle fades and the night becomes quiet again.
The nightly event is a mystery to the girls. Where does a train without tracks go? Little did they know that lonely and tortured souls were involved. Tonight, three more passengers met their fate and boarded the train.
Indigo Higgins: Didn’t Take a Risk With Love
Indigo takes a seat by the window and pulls a weathered newspaper out of her favorite leather purse. Her most prized possession took her to the afterlife. She loved to write but there was a lot of pain in her words. She flipped through the pages slowly. It was his life detailed on paper – unsettling and raw. She had suffered a lot of losses in life but she coped by thinking of him. He was sweet and smart. Support when he knew she needed it. She secretly loved him from afar. He was constantly on her mind – a welcome distraction but a distraction nonetheless. Some days nothing was done. She dreamed of how they would spend time together and all the things she wanted to tell him. But those were words he would never hear. Deep down, she wondered what it would be like if he felt the same way, but her own doubts kept her from finding out. Why didn’t she try her luck?
She continues to leaf through the pages of her diary when she stops. Tears form in her eyes as she looks at a poem she wrote a year ago.
I want to be one with you –
Let’s create a universe
in which to live our dreams.
Stardust in your eyes,
stardust on our sheets,
stardust in your footsteps –
I always want to be by your side.
He never knew how Indigo felt. She boards the train lamenting what could have been. She thinks this train is taking her to a poetry reading where she can finally vent her feelings and go out into the world, but the train will never stop.
Thomas Rayburn: did not take a position
Thomas boarded the train tired and weak. Even defeated. It was a long battle with brain cancer and the one person he wanted by his bedside wasn’t coming. You couldn’t really blame him. Thomas had abandoned him, ruining all trust between father and son. He was only fourteen – still a child then.
Thomas had married his high school girlfriend just a few years after graduation, and his son arrived healthy and happy a year and a half later. The young family settled in the town where Thomas grew up and became active in a local church. They arrived early for services and sat in the second row before the first pew. Never missed a Sunday.
Thomas gave his wife and son the best home possible. He worked long hours but always made time for his boy. They played catch. They went fishing. They did all the typical father-son activities and Thomas loved every minute of it. As his son grew, Thomas pushed him into sports and tried to go to every game.
Then one autumn evening, everything changed. Thomas still remembers the comforting smell of the pot while cooking and how the golden light of the end of the day filtered through the sheer blue curtains in the living room. He remembered those tiny little details of that fateful night, but the rest is a blur. Her son had come home from football practice with his best friend and they headed to his bedroom to play video games before supper. After the local news, Thomas set the table for four and went to his son’s room to tell him that supper was almost ready. When he opened the door, he saw his son kissing his best friend.
Thomas doesn’t even remember what he told them. He just remembers the shock. His wife cried and chased them both out of the house. Her son was just a child with tears streaming down his face when she closed the door forever.
Thomas didn’t agree with homosexuality, but he was still his son. His wife, however, was adamant. She believed it was a sin and that her son was no longer welcome in her own home.
It was the last night that Thomas saw his son. He missed his son terribly and secretly resented his wife and her decision. Yet he stood by her side.
As he lay in the hospital, well aware of the nearness of death, he yearned for his son. He would do anything to get it back, but now his son is an adult he probably wouldn’t even recognize. He felt deep regret for not having defended his son. It was constantly on his mind in life – and now also in death.
He thinks this train is taking him to meet his newborn son and grandson. He does not know that he will never reach his destination.
Mia Clifford: Didn’t Pursue a Dream
Mia Clifford saw the world in a very vivid way. His paintings were filled with vivid colors and contrasts. Unfortunately, his beautiful paintings never left his apartment.
She grew up in a tough neighborhood. Her parents struggled a lot, and then her father left when she was nine. She was accustomed to turmoil and instability from an early age.
When she started elementary school, she developed a love of art. Teachers always complimented her creativity and all her notebooks were covered in pencil-drawn doodles. Art supplies were expensive, but it was amazing what she could do with a pack of Crayolas and a spiral notebook.
His love of art never wavered. It only intensified as she got older. An after-school job in high school gave her some money to buy some art supplies. The neighborhood, the family – all of her struggles faded into the background when she picked up a brush.
Senior year came and college was calling her name, but Mia was scared. She loves art more than anything, but the realities of life pushed her in another direction and she soon doubted her abilities.
A degree in accounting would be more practical. Mia remembered her family’s struggles and knew she needed a stable job and a salary.
Twenty-five years of working in an office. Twenty-five years without anyone seeing Mia’s paintings. Twenty-five years and an accident. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Mia boarded the train early in the morning and her stop would never come. She could have been great but now we’ll never know. She thinks she’s on her way to her first solo exhibition where the world will finally see her work, but she’ll never get off the train.
The sisters sleep peacefully as the train has passed. They ignore the suffering of trapped souls and the lessons they can learn from it. The train rumbles through the countryside night after night. It doesn’t stop and it’s not going anywhere. Passengers will forever be prisoners of their own minds. Life is very short but death is long and we cannot escape. Of all the scary things in life and death, it’s our regrets that haunt us the most.