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The Peace Train

by Kathryn Mahoney 2 months ago in Short Story
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Welcome to your journey of inner peace.

Jane woke up from a deep sleep. She looked around and tried to make sense of what was happening. “Why am I on a train?” Jane thought. She had no recollection of ever getting on the train and couldn’t remember what had happened earlier that day. She looked around in a panic. She couldn’t quite see who was on the train and saw no signs to indicate where the train was going.

As she searched for someone she recognized, her trepidation began to grow. This train was barreling down the track with no end in sight.

‘Ok… was I drugged somehow?’ Jane looked around at the passengers and tried to make eye contact. But no one looked at her. She tried to calm herself and figure out a plan for what she would do.

All of a sudden, a voice came on the intercom. “Hello, Jane. You are doing great. Please continue to notice your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. We are taking this train to the very first memory you can recall that was traumatic.” Notice any thoughts you are having, how you are feeling, and see what memories may come up.” “Please relax and know this is part of your therapy session.”

The familiar voice was of her therapist, Dr. Phillips. They had worked together for many years, and she wanted to try something new to help Jane process her traumatic memories. Although Jane had tried for many years to help re-process the events that brought her to therapy, it seemed she was not making as much progress as they had hoped.

Dr. Phillips let Jane know there was a new type of therapy that she was researching. It involved hypnosis and eye movements to re-process the memories that Jane was dissociating.

“I’ll try anything at this point,” Jane mentioned to Dr. Phillips. She wanted to do anything to make the nightmares stop and help her feel calmer and more in control during the day. Jane had lived in survival mode for her entire life. She knew there were parts she was afraid to remember. She trusted Dr. Phillips. She was excited to see how this could go.

Before the hypnosis session, Dr. Phillips applied a mild sedative to allow the processing to work and prevent the dissociative blocks from occurring as they had experienced in previous therapy sessions. Dr. Phillips had described the therapy session as a “Float Back.” She would start with what Jane remembered and try to float to the earliest memory. She said this type of therapy is known as a train ride. She explained that it could be powerful and emotionally intense, but Jane would finally be able to access the lost memories and find a way to heal for the first time in twenty years.

Jane sank into her seat and felt the soft velvet fabric against her skin. ‘I need to stay focused.’ she thought. After a few deep breaths, she began to pay attention to the instructions. Jane started to scan her body; her stomach tightened. Her throat felt like it was closing in, and she noticed the sting of tears in her eyes.

‘What were the thoughts she was experiencing?’ ‘Unsafe’ ‘Dangerous’ Now, she was supposed to see where this led in the form of a memory.

Suddenly a beautiful woman appeared on the train. Shiny ringlets of auburn hair framed her cheekbones. The shade of crimson lipstick she wore drew Jane in. Her emerald green dress swished as she carefully walked through the train's cabin. She gracefully walked toward Jane as if she was floating down the aisle.

As Jane took her in, her breath caught. “Mama?” She said shakily with tears welling in her eyes. It was the first time Jane had seen her mom since she was a little girl. Her mother died in a tragic car accident when Jane was only three years old. Jane’s mom had gone out to the store to get new school clothes before Jane was about to begin preschool. Because it happened so long ago, Jane only recognized her from the pictures she studied as a little girl. No longer could she access the memories that held her mother’s touch, smell, smile, and laughter.

Her mother was only a few years older than Jane was today. Jane’s mother made eye contact and, struck with emotion, softly whispered, “Janie?”

She ran towards Jane and scooped her in her arms. They embraced and sobbed for what felt like an eternity. “What are you doing here?” Jane asked incredulously.

“I’m here for you, Janie.”

Breaking down, Jane cried, “I miss you, Mama.”

“I know, baby. I’m here.” She rocked Jane in her arms and allowed the weight and warmth of her body to sink into hers.

Jane didn’t want this to end. She knew this wasn’t real but was desperate to keep this memory alive as long as possible.

“Why did you have to go?” Jane asked her mother.

“Oh, honey. I never left you. I’ve always been here watching and loving you, my dear.”

“It’s my fault you died. If you had never left to buy me shoes for school, you never would have gotten in the car accident.”

“It’s not your fault, honey. It was outside of our control. I never wanted to be away from you. I tried to send you my love as you were growing up.”

“It’s been so hard not having you. I feel so alone sometimes.”

“I know, honey. I’m so sorry. Whenever you miss me, I want you to remember this moment.

Feel my arms around you; hear me say how much I love you.

Know I am here watching you and sending love even if you can’t see it.

You are safe in your love, honey. It’s ok to feel it, even if it makes you sad or scared.”

“Please don’t go.” Jane pleaded.

“I’m right here with you, Janie.”

Jane’s mother faded, and a calmness swept over Jane.

“How are you doing, Jane?” Dr. Phillips’ soothing voice came over the intercom.

“I’m doing ok. Wow. That was so intense. I’m feeling good.”

“Ready to proceed?”

Jane took a deep breath.“Yeah, I’m ready.”

The following person to enter the train Jane instantly recognized. He was the tall, dark-haired, blue-eyed boy Jane had loved her entire adult life. His smile lit up a room, and she painfully noticed the two dimples on each side of his face that she fondly remembered kissing every night before bed.

The handsome young man that entered the train was Tommy Marshall. They were inseparable throughout high school and college. It looked like they had the perfect relationship until Tommy broke Jane’s heart into a million pieces the week before college graduation.

Jane still dreamt of Tommy and wished they were together. However, Tommy had married Jane’s best friend, Ashley, two years ago. They were happy and effortlessly in love, along with their darling little girl, Sarah.

Jane hated that her heart skipped a beat when she watched him walk closer to her.

“Hey, Jane.”


“I wasn’t expecting to see you here,” Jane said softly.

“I’m here for you,” Tommy said.

“Wow, that’s a first,” Jane said bitterly.

“I feel so much shame for hurting you, Jane. I wish I could have taken everything I had ever said and done back to avoid hurting you. I was young and stupid.”

Jane started to feel a surge of rage.

“Am I just supposed to say, no problem, and be ok? We were together for five years. I thought we were going to get married, and you turn around and cheat on me with my best friend?! I can’t trust anyone because of you! I am forever broken because of you!”

“I’m sorry,” Tommy said.

“I know. I wish you knew what it felt like for me.”

“I know. I always think about you and feel sick to my stomach thinking about how I hurt you.”

“You were never my person, Tommy.”

“You’re right; you deserve someone who will stick by you.”

“I wish I didn’t miss you. I want to hate you, but I still love you.”

“I know. I’m always going to have feelings of love for you too, Jane. I know you’ll find a guy worthy enough to love you. Just keep having hope, ok?”

“Whatever…it’s easy for you to say that.”

“I know, I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing you can say that will make me stop hating you for what you’ve done.”

“I know. I get it.”

Jane screamed and yelled and fell into a fit of sobs while Tommy held her.

“I’m sorry.”

“I know.”

Tommy left, and again, Jane felt some relief. She hadn’t seen or talked to Tommy in 2 years.

Jane couldn’t believe how powerful this therapy was. She never showed such intense emotions in her life. She felt lighter.

“You’re doing an amazing job, Jane. How are you doing with the memories and emotions you are releasing?” Dr. Phillips asked.

“I’m doing ok. I’m tired, but I’ve never felt this much relief.”

“We’ve got one more memory to process, and then we should be done for the day.”

“Ok. I’m ready.”

The last person was a little girl. She instantly recognized her auburn curls, shy smile, and bright green eyes. The last person to board the train was Jane. She had just turned four and was in the depths of grief after losing her mom.

“Hi,” little Jane looked up at big Jane and smiled.

“Hi there.”

“What’s your name?”

“My name is Jane; how about you?”

“Me too!!” She looked excitedly at big Jane and her eyes shined.

“My mommy calls me Janie.”

Suddenly, little Jane looked down at the ground and softly whispered, “She used to call me Janie. My mommy is in Heaven now.”

“Aww, sweetie, come here.” Jane motioned her over to have her sit next to her on the seat.

Big Jane wrapped Janie into her arms and hugged her. “Do you know how much your mommy loves you?”

“To the universe and back?” Janie asked curiously.

With tears in her eyes, Jane smiled and said, “Yep. That is exactly right!”

“Your mommy sent a message from Heaven, and she told me she was with her little girl Janie every day. She was sending her love and watching her grow big and strong.”

Jane hugged her and said, “She wanted me to give this hug to you so you could remember what her hugs feel like.”

Janie sobbed and hugged Jane back. “I miss my mommy. I don’t want her to go to Heaven.”

“I know, sweet girl. It’s ok to let yourself feel your love for your mommy. Even if that makes the sad feelings come up. You can be safe feeling love. Just remember she is sending it right back.”

“I talk to her sometimes,” Janie whispered.

“Really? I love that!” “What do you want to tell her right now?”

“That I love her and miss her and have been singing our song every night before bed.”

Jane had forgotten the special song they sang every night before bed. She used to love Winnie the Pooh as a child, and they would sing the song every night. First mommy and then Janie. Mommy constantly changed the words to make Janie laugh, and she’d giggle and say, “Mommy! That’s not right!” They would sing it together, and Janie would squeeze her mom tight and say, “I love you, mommy.” With tears in her eyes, Jane asked, “Would you like to sing your special song right now? You can imagine singing it with your mommy, and she is giving you lots of hugs and love.”


The two girls held each other and sang the song together. Jane changed the words, and Janie giggled and hugged her tight.

“Thank you, Jane. That made me feel so much better.”

“You’re welcome, sweet girl. Keep feeling the love that is around you. It’s ok if sad feelings happen. But keep looking for the love.”

Janie smiled at Jane and began skipping down the aisle, singing the song. She heard her giggle as she began to fade out of sight. Jane sobbed and smiled.

What a fantastic gift she experienced getting to heal that heartbroken little girl. She kept thinking how strong and sweet that little girl was; even though she had experienced inexplicable loss, she was resilient.

“What does that little girl need, Jane?” Dr. Phillips’ voice came on the intercom.

“She needs to know she is worthy of love and can feel safe in love, even if she is sad the person is no longer there.”

“That’s exactly right, Jane. The love never dies.”

Dr. Phillips had her hear those words and think of Janie, Tommy, and her mother. It started to feel more and more accurate as she listened to those words and remembered each person.

Then the most amazing thing happened to Jane. New memories came up like a projector on the screen. As the train rushed by, Jane looked out the window, and beautiful memories started to come up. Memories of Jane and her mother playing hopscotch outside-painting rainbows together-making up silly songs. Her mom put her favorite bandaids on her knees when she fell and scratched them—making sandcastles at the beach. All of these old memories she had forgotten enveloped Jane in love.

She continued to look out the window and more memories flooded in. She remembered the first time Tommy nervously told Jane he loved her- their first kiss- the night they stayed up talking about what it would be like to get married and have kids together. She had a sense that she would build that again with someone new. She could find safety in love and know that even though it didn’t work out with Tommy, the love they did share was real. It wasn’t her fault.

Jane felt entirely changed by this session. She smiled, cried, and held on to the love she felt swirling around inside her. She didn’t want this feeling to end.

However, the train ride had ended. Dr. Phillips counted down and told her to open her eyes slowly. She was back in the office that she so clearly remembered.

“How do you feel?” Dr. Phillips looked at her expectedly.

“I’ve never felt so much love before. Thank you so much.”

“You’re welcome, Jane. Please, keep holding on to these feelings. You’ve done an amazing job, and I’m so proud of you.”

Jane’s journey had ended, and she was so excited to go live her life finally. She was free.

Short Story

About the author

Kathryn Mahoney

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insight

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (4)

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  • Sprint Facts2 months ago

  • mark william smith2 months ago

    well done. great message!

  • Camilla Richter2 months ago

    Aww, this is so sweet! I love the chance Jane had to love on her past self. Beautiful.

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