A Bad Day to Ride the Train
The heat had everyone in a tizzy. And the goddamn train was late. I’m not sure whose dumbass idea it was to take the train on such a miserable day, but there sure were a lot of dumbasses standing around sweating profusely on that platform.
The questions buzzed around my head like the flies that buzzed on the smelly shit left by the bums at night. Why’d she have to go? Why couldn’t I go with her? Could it possibly get any hotter? There were many more, but it had gotten so hot that I didn’t feel like asking them anymore. I looked over at the beautiful woman next to me, standing there all prim and proper, adorned in her white gloves and that damned bonnet I had given her for her birthday back in March when it wasn’t so damned hot. They said the temperature might reach one-hundred today. And then there was the humidity. Maybe that’s why she was leaving.
Finally I asked it. “Why the hell can’t I go with you?” I didn’t even look at her as I spoke, and Fannie didn’t look at me when she responded, “Don’t start now.” Somehow she wasn’t sweating as she spoke. She was the only one not sweating on that platform. God, how I wanted her to start sweating, to show some small sign that she did have a flaw and that I wasn’t losing the whole world. I knew she would never come back. “When the hell else am I supposed to start?” I wanted to ask, but I knew that nothing good could come of the question. Then I would just look like the monster, just like I had so many times before. So I settled on asking, “Are you going to miss me, Fannie?” but she didn’t answer. I don’t think she heard me because right when I said it the train rolled in and the screeching of the braking wheels sliding along the metal was as intolerable to my ears as the heat was to my damp skin. Why did I wear this damned suit? I wanted to leave an impression, but all I left was a big sweat stain.
When the train finally screeched to its halt, I saw that he was sitting on the train, waiting for her in that air-conditioned car wearing a suit even finer than mine. “Goodbye,” was all she said and then just got on the train, still not sweating, leaving me looking like a well-dressed pig. I didn’t want to watch the only daughter of a widower run off with the man of her dreams, so I strolled home to nothing, hiding my tears from the scorching sun.
Nathaniel Tower writes fiction, teaches English, and manages the online lit magazine Bartleby Snopes. His short fiction has appeared in over 50 online and print magazines. A story of his, “The Oaten Hands,” was named one of 190 notable stories by storySouth’s Million Writers Award in 2009. His first novel, A Reason To Kill, is due out in July 2011. Visit him at http://www.bartlebysnopes.com/ntower.htm