The 78 Special

Thanks to Twitter’s How We’ll Prompt for the inspiration.

The 78 Special
The sleek bullet train slid to a stop in the downtown shopping center at precisely 8:00 pm. The warm yellow glow from the conductor’s cabin pierced the dull muted greys of city life, beckoning to the adventurous with promises of something exciting to be found just the other side of its gleaming glass doors.

Maranatha swallowed a lump in her throat and glanced quickly down at the ticket in her hand before stepping up to the narrow metal steps leading up to the cushioned cabins inside. She hesitated for a moment before pushing the large red button on the side of the train and clutched her leather bag closer to her as she darted up the steps, her feet barely making a sound as she went.

She shook off the evening’s chill as a blanket of warm air from the passenger cabin wrapped itself around her. She spotted an empty seat next to a window and slid into it. The animated chatter from the passengers nearby became the background music for the movie playing in her head.

“You want me to leave?”

Her brown eyes looked up at him, widening in astonishment.

“Yes, I want you to leave.”

His face was turned toward the window of his second story apartment when he spoke the words, so she couldn’t see his expression, but his voice was firm and unwavering.

“There’s money on the table. Buy yourself a ticket and get out.”

She’d silently shaken her head, denying the meaning of the words he’d just spoken and the tears they’d provoked at the same time.
She stood up to go to him, to put her arms around him, to plead with him to change his mind. She took two steps toward him before his voice rang out and stopped her from closing the gap.

“Mara, I mean it. I don’t want you here anymore. We’re done.”

She’d found herself staring at the bill crumpled on the table. It was just enough for a single pass. She’d straightened her shoulders and her head, taken the money, and walked out the door without a single glance back.

The conductor’s voice broke through to her.

“Welcome to the 78 special, ladies and gentlemen. If you’ll please take your seats, we’ll be getting started here in just a few minutes. As a reminder, there is no smoking on board. Please store your luggage underneath your seats or in the overhead compartments.”

And just like that, at 8:05 pm, the 78 special pulled out of the dull grey city where she’d spent most of her adult life following the warm yellow glow filled with promises of something exciting to be found just ahead.

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