Derailed [part one]

December 2, 2009
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Sometimes I wonder about what would’ve happened if I hadn’t gotten on the train that day.
It was raining that day. The sky was gray and sad. The platform was dry, and there weren’t many people on it. It was 12:09pm on a Wednesday, which explained the small number of people. The train pulled up at 12:11 and I walked on, simple as that. There were seven other seats filled in the car I was in.
There was one woman who was holding the hand of a little boy who wasn’t old enough to be in school yet. A girl my age sat down towards the middle and looked out the window anxiously every five minutes. A few rows behind me an older couple sat quietly next to each other. In the very back of the car there was a teenage couple sitting very close, making out. I sighed and tried to get as close to my teal and pink plastic seat as possible. Maybe I could melt into it.

What was I quitting on? My family? They all quit a long time ago. My parents somehow managed to keep it together long enough for my older sister to get out, but apparently I wasn’t special enough to have a normal family. My sister went to college on the other side of the country and never looked back. My friends weren’t my friends anymore. They changed. Or maybe I did. Either way I was alone.
I’ve heard on TV of people who just snap. They let their sadness or their anger win. I am afraid to be one of those people. I am afraid of what everyone will think. I would be remembered as ‘that crazy one.’ Yet I am more afraid of going on alone for the rest of my life.
I hoped that by leaving maybe no one would find out. They might not care anyway. I brought no ID with me. I had dyed my short brown hair blond the night before. I didn’t think that it would fool anyone, but who knows? I hoped no one would come looking for me.
I didn’t leave a…a note. Authorities always say that’s what gives it away. I was a little nervous that they would attribute it to homicide, because I didn’t want to be responsible for them making a false conviction.
The train made many stops but no one got off or on the train in our car. My cheek rested on the cold window and I looked out at the gray skies and the rain. I guess I wasn’t missing much. I grew surer of this thought as we got closer to the city. Gray overlapped gray and industrial buildings spotted the horizon. Who would want to live in this world, anyway? These people in the car around me, they didn’t get it. They didn’t get that it just wasn’t worth it. The anxious girl was looking at me. Who needs anxiety? The lovers in the back of the car were still making out. Who needs love? Love isn’t permanent. The little boy was sleeping with his head on his mom, and the older couple seemed to not have moved an inch the entire ride. Life isn’t permanent either. Death is, though. I almost wanted to laugh at them, each person in that car, just then. I had a feeling of triumph. I was the only one who wasn’t wasting my time on things that had to end.
In that second everything changed, though. It wasn’t me. At first I thought it was. I mean, I know that, technically, I was already crazy, but when I saw the world outside stop moving and the red flashing lights I thought I really had lost it completely. The rattling of the train, the explosion not too far away that launched us all to the ground. The small boy, crying. His mom couldn’t comfort him.
My entire body was flattened on the ground. The side of my head was dripping with blood. I could taste it. Wincing, I attempted to move. An intake of air brought an immense amount of pain to my side. I opened my eyes and could not see a thing. The train was clearly on fire. The pain in my side was as blinding as the smoke itself. I could die right here, I thought. No one will know that this was what I wanted all along. I’ll die a hero. People will miss me. No one will know….
Slowly, darkness closed around me. I was leaving. All my senses were gone except my ears. I was letting go, and I was almost gone. I hadn’t expected it to be this easy. Of course it couldn’t be.
The little boy’s screams pierced through the smoke and fire, to my almost-gone ears. If I died here, he would, too. For some reason, I pushed myself up to a crawling position, managing to ignore the pain. I followed the wailing for what seemed like miles, but in reality was only six seats behind where I had been sitting. Broken glass scattered the ground around me, sliced my hands. The smell of burning plastic was intoxicating. The boy was on the floor next to his mom. She was face down. His small leg was bent the wrong way. I cringed. He saw me then, and screamed louder.
“It… it’s ok,” I said, convincing myself as much as I was convincing him. “Come on, let’s get out.” The boy did not want to hear me. I approached him slowly, placing my hand on his shoulder. Then I realized I had no way of getting him out. I tugged on his shoulders. “Come on,” I said hoarsely. He shook his head vigorously. His face was dirty and smudged with tears. I tugged more urgently. “We have to go,” I said, and pulled him a few inches across the floor. The boy managed to crawl along side of me, despite the excruciating pain he must’ve been in because of his leg. We finally made it to the train door. There was no way out.
The windows weren’t breakable and the doors were automatic. I looked around exasperatedly, and I had no idea what to do next. I kicked the door. Nothing happened; it didn’t even budge. I slammed it, and pain ripped across my abdomen. Tears streamed down my face and I blinked them away. I took a deep breath and prepared for the third time today to die. But I had passed up my opportunity and some unwritten code wouldn’t allow me to black out again. I lay there, overcome with pain, with the boy crying next to me.
A memory floated back of the train ride, while I had been dozing. The ticket man had come and snipped a hole in my ticket. The doors that led from compartment to compartment were not automatic.
“This way,” I said to the boy. He dragged his body after mine, and I did my best to help him along but my own pain was intensifying. We were almost to the door when I heard something behind us. A cough. The crying boy heard it too, and paused for a moment. “Stay here,” I choked out. I crawled as quickly towards the sound as I could. Sweat poured out of my body and mixed with blood on my hands and face. The coughing came from the anxious girl. She wasn’t conscious. I grabbed her arms and started squirming as quickly as I could back towards the little boy, the pain paralyzing my mind. The girl opened her eyes and saw me, but she quickly passed out again. When we were all finally back at the door, I kicked it open, and smoke billowed out as cold air blew in. We fell out of the cars in a pile and laid in the mud in agony. The girl was still unconscious. Finally, I pushed myself onto my knees and picked up the girl. I was strong enough to carry her, and I could just barely manage the pain. Every few feet I stumbled and fell. The girl still did not wake. After we were about fifty yards away from the debris I collapsed. The small boy vomited and passed out. I looked back at the wreckage and could not see what had caused it. Finally, I passed out alongside them.

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