Song inspiration: There’s a song about riding on a train. A midnight train? Honestly, I wrote this so long ago and lost the music list years ago that this is one where I know there was a song inspiration, but I can’t quite grasp what it was.
She wrapped her mint green sweater tighter around her slender torso and tucked a strand of her long red hair behind an ear. Her legs jiggled nervously as she waited impatiently for the train to pull into the station. Her two suitcases had been a good seat for the last half hour, but now her legs felt cramped. She sighed heavily, tightly folding her arms across her chest.
Valentine looked up and down the platform. It was practically deserted. There were a few other people waiting with her, but no one interesting enough to strike up a conversation with. Not that she was a great conversationalist, but sometimes it was nice to talk to people, especially on the last day of life.
There was a young couple sitting and kissing on one of the benches. They looked about college age, maybe a little older, and were going at each other’s face quite ardently. She quickly looked away, not wanting to invade their privacy. An older gentleman had claimed the other bench, his luggage sitting horizontally next to him, daring people to just try and sit next to him. He was slouched over the luggage, though, half asleep, and he probably wouldn’t put up too much of a fight if someone really did want to rest their weary feet. A couple of young men and a young woman were huddled together, dressed as though they’d just enjoyed a night out. Or about to enjoy some other nocturnal activity that she, ever so prim and modest, didn’t even want to let her mind think about. At the other end of the platform was a young man, probably around her age, looking a little scruffy and like he could use a good, long shower. He had a pretty good beard on him, as well as a haunted look on his face that she didn’t really want to contemplate. Besides, he wasn’t her type. She liked a clean shaven man. But, considering the day, could she really afford to be picky?
She sighed again and started tapping her foot. She’d just finished her first year of college and was upset that, with the world ending, she wouldn’t be able to get her degree. She’d spent the last couple of weeks enjoying time with her friends, but now it was time to go back home to the quiet little suburb she’d been born and raised in, three hundred miles away. Her parents had been begging her to come home, just so they could see her one last time. Finally, a few hours ago, her mother’s voice had finally broken her heart and she’d quickly packed and purchased a train ticket, glad that the train ran right through her hometown, and was still running.
She could hear the train in the distance now. It was rapidly approaching.
“Finally,” she muttered under her breath. Time was a-wasting and she hated wasting time. It was one of the complaints her friends always had, whether they were college friends or friends from home. Valentine just couldn’t sit still.
As the train pulled into the station, she firmly grasped the handles of her suitcases and took a few steps forward, careful to not step over the yellow line drawn just a couple of feet from the edge of the platform. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the few other waiting passengers rouse themselves and edge forward.
Slowly, the train came to a stop and the doors slid open. Valentine grimaced slightly as she peered through the windows. Most of the seats were already taken, filled with either people or luggage. So much for her desire to sit alone and just gaze out the window or take a quick cat nap. It didn’t look like she was even going to get near the window. She’d be lucky to get a seat.
With a sigh, she pulled her luggage forward with her and stepped into the train. She walked past rows of seats and a couple of paired rows separated by a rectangular table, but they were all filled, half of the people snoring on a neighbor’s shoulder. Whether or not they knew each other, she couldn’t tell, but no one was complaining. Complaining wasn’t getting anyone anywhere fast these days. In the last few days, she’d only heard children whine. Sighing to herself, she walked on into the next compartment, handing off her ticket to the passing conductor. He gave her a weary smile and tipped his cap to her before moving on, a practiced motion he had done millions of times before on countless trips all around the country.
Finally, she spotted an empty seat. It was on the aisle, but it was one of the tabled rows, so she could at least put her head down. She picked up her pace so no one else could snag the seat. Somehow, though, she didn’t think there would be any competition as no one else was moving in the same direction. The dirty looking guy from the platform had taken up residence by the window, so she would end up sitting next to him, and the other people she’d been waiting with were nowhere to be seen.
Without a smile, or even a look at the guy or the slumbering older couple across from him, she stored her luggage, one under the seat and the other on the overhead rack. Then she slid in next to the guy, who looked to be right about her age, careful to stick as close to the edge as possible, though, oddly enough, the guy didn’t actually smell that bad. He smelled kind of…soapy. Like the soap she’d used to clean her hands. Now that was odd. But she didn’t dwell on it. She wouldn’t be talking to the guy, probably wouldn’t be stopping at the same station as him, and would probably never see him again.
The guy turned impossibly blue eyes on her and gave her a nod before sticking ear buds in his ears. His head began to nod slightly to whatever music he was listening to and his eyes slowly closed. Valentine turned away from him, blinking a few times before mentally shaking her head. So what if his eyes were the most beautiful she had ever seen? He still looked filthy. And that beard, oh, that beard. What was it with some men and facial hair?