The Train

March 11, 2012
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The smell was horrendous; hot garbage mingling with sweat and sewage. So disgusting it almost made this place uninhabitable. I’d lived in some pretty horrible places since I started riding the rails, but this one definitely took the cake. This Hooverville was set up outside one of the oldest cities in the state, near a dump site where some construction crew had dumped their junk.

Normally, that would have been good, but this junk was so old that most of it was rotted or rotting. Every day, someone’s ramshackle, tin-roofed hovel would collapse because someone else leaned on it on their way to the city, or because the wind was too much for the old boards. During the day it wasn’t so bad, no one was around anyway. We were all out trying to find work or food or both. The worst that would happen is some poor sap would come back from trying to find work in the city and find that he had to put his “house” back together. It was the nights that were bad. Always worrying that the walls would give out and the roof would crush me in my sleep. On windy nights I didn’t even sleep outside. Me and a bunch of my neighbors would sit around the fire and watch as our hovels fall, and then we’d go gather the splinters to feed the fire.

And that wasn’t even the worst part. The worst part was inescapable and hellish. It came from everywhere and went nowhere. The worst part ruined everything it touched and destroyed a mans chances of finding a job. Whether he was a farmer or a stockbroker, it didn’t discriminate. The worst part was the dust. It clung to everything it touched; hair, clothes, skin, books, newspapers, houses, it didn’t matter. It attached itself and refused to let go. It made me look like a ragged bum, which I was, I just didn’t like looking like it. Every time I went in for a job interview I’d sit down and a cloud of dust would surround me. And, without fail, the position I was applying for would become unavailable.

And what happens when there’s no jobs? We move on. I push west because I have to find work. So now, I escape the smell, the rotting hovels, and even the dust. I loaded everything I could need into the sack that now sits and bounces beside me and jumped onto the first western bound freighter I could find. There are three more men in the car with me. Chances are, none of us will find work when we get off this train, but hey, the next place might be different.

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limeturquoise825 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 22, 2012 at 8:12 pm
I really liked the story! It was very descriptive, and I could really feel the despair of the narrator.
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