No stop in sight
I never win at anything—Liza muttered to herself as she looked out the window. Her last five dollars spent on another losing ticket.; she had one ticket left and it was unlikely to be anything but wasted money.
Some lucky soul will have a whole new life come midnight—she mused, reading over the blank ticket she held in her hand—unscathed by her rusted penny. The world outside looked anything but inviting. Somber, heavy clouds clung onto every building in sight. Liza was miles above the city and yet she still couldn’t escape, not even for a few hours.
She could see the train had somehow managed to get stuck inside the terminal—a loud buzzing from the end of the cab let her know there had been an error of some sort, something about mechanical problems or an unsigned inspection waiver. Useless jargon that meant something more serious was likely afoot.
The train crept forward—slowly rocking back and forth in a sea-sick inducing motion that made Liza wish she had taken the bus instead. A few other passengers were looking around, silently making eye contact with her—clearly miffed by the new change of events. Thankfully no one decided to state the obvious or attempt any small talk. She sat unscathed as she shifted her body to face the window yet again, hoping to signal that she wasn’t in the mood for idle chatter.
“What do you think is going on…” a rather handsome man asked, his low brooding voice beckoned from across the aisle; he had managed to lean all the way over and was practically invading Liza’s space as he moved to a closer seat— as though on purpose.
“It’s not like anyone’s sitting here,” he laughed, talking mostly to himself, but Liza didn't seem to care.
“I’m not sure, you know about as much as I do…” Liza shrugged, responding rather abruptly a tinge of aggravation in her voice. The train stalled for a few minutes; the rocking more prominent as a woman in a bright blue pencil skirt suit came by, looking more like a flight-attendant than a train-stewardess.
“We will be rolling out shortly,” she announced by way of an intercom telephone mounted under where the loud buzzing siren still wailed, a large fake smile plastered across her face as she began tending to the bar-cabinet between the cars, clearly as annoyed as the rest of the passengers.
With less than a hair out of place the stewardess looked as though she wanted to crack, to snap and simply lose it but instead, she buckled into a seat facing Liza, giving a slight sneer as the train lurched forward violently with enough force to send them all hurling into space as it flew out of the station.
Liza wasn’t sure how she would be able to take a nap now, the train was moving at breakneck speeds. Rows and rows of bulbed railway lamps passed by in a flurry as the train headed for another set of buildings—a skyway hotel that neared a hundred stories tall, a great pyramid shaped structure. She caught glimpses of the towering lead-lined windows that domed into soaring sky-lights. It was like being inside the largest kaleidoscope ever built—the forged steel roof and crystal chandeliers reflected jewel toned flashes of light as the rays of warm sun flooded in. From Liza’s seat the river and sky melted into one large pool of cerulean blue.
There, ornate balconies dripped in lush bouts of potted ivy hiding the lives of tenants who were housed within. An oversized clock hung above the courtyard where flowing fountains and well-wishing pennies sat under each sunny moon. This was the place Liza would live if she had all the money in the world. She thought back to the ticket burning a hole in her bag and all the good she could do if only she had the money…
The train passed under a looming arch where Mythological Winged beasts and drooping creatures robed in stone veils were carved—signaling the start of their journey as they passed through. Liza felt herself drifting, growing heavy; she tucked her satchel under her head as the trains roaring speed lulled her to sleep.
“Ticket my dear…” a gentle whisper interrupted her dreams; the train stewardess was standing at the foot of the aisle impatiently waiting, her folded arms practically outstretched in the most uncomfortable of ways.
“Yeah, sure…let me look for it…” Liza mumbled, fumbling idly around her bag as she searched for her train ticket. It was almost as nerve-wracking as when you’ve forget to have your credit card ready in the check-out line.
“I must have misplaced it…give me a second,” Liza added, feeling the familiar crinkle of her eyebrows furrowing with unnecessary worry as she imagined all the eyes of the train were burrowing down on her at that very moment.
“Fine…I’ll be back…” the stewardess replied, clearly annoyed as she tramped off to another passenger seated a few rows back.
“I know it’s in here…” Liza said aloud, practically dumping the contents of her bag onto the seat next to her. The only thing she found were her two lottery tickets.
“I…I don’t know…” Liza whispered getting up from her seat as she looked around for the stewardess. The train appeared less crowded than before, at least a half-dozen passengers had disembarked.
My nap must’ve been a lot longer than I thought—Liza mused, looking around for a clock.
“Excuse me…do you have the time,” Liza asked the handsome man who had moved back to his original spot.
“No…but I gather it’s late, probably close to eleven,” he answered, his enthusiasm from earlier had all but disappeared.
Confused Liza went back to her seat, she could have sworn her ticket was for eight-to-ten. She must’ve slept past her stop and to make matters worse, she couldn’t check her train ticket to verify.
Liza pressed the button over her seat for the stewardess; the young woman came back down the aisle in a huff. “Did’ya find your ticket yet or what…” she demanded; not one ounce of hospitality licked those bones.
“No, but…exactly how many stops have we made, I was supposed to get off an hour ago, you know, stop number fourteen. It should have arrived around ten. The guy over there said we were nearing the eleventh hour..."she paused, "There has to be another stop, what time will we arrive...,” Liza questioned, grabbing her bag and putting it across her body.
The woman said nothing, turning instead to walk back towards the butler’s cabinet between the two cars. Liza followed closely behind, practically walking on the backs of the woman's feet.
“Hello…” Liza repeated; her voice growing louder as the seconds passed. She felt like the woman was flat-out ignoring her.
“I’m talking to you…” Liza continued.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. We don’t have any more stops for the night,” the woman replied coolly; saying nothing further before moving by Liza as though she wasn’t there.
Liza turned to look back towards her seat.
The guy had moved closer; now he was sitting in the seat directly next to where she had been sleeping—making it awkward—do I sit back where I was and show him, I’m not afraid or do I move somewhere else—Liza wondered, slowing her pace to ponder, the windows showing blurs of the lights and cities that whirled by.
“You know, time doesn’t wait for just anyone…” the man began; casually picking at the frayed hole on the knee of his jeans.
“You really should scratch that last ticket, but…be warned, it won’t do you a bit of good…” he added, crossing and uncrossing his legs as he moved into a more comfortable position.
“And why not…” Liza asked curiously, choosing instead to sit in the aisle seat nearest the strange man as she turned to face him directly.
“Well, I don’t want to spoil it for you but you really shouldn’t have taken that nap…you really shouldn’t have slept on an chance to leave…you never know when you might get that opportunity again…”
Liza dropped her head, angling her jaw as her teeth clenched. It was a habit she was still working on but no matter what she did, the seething aggravation still welled up inside her.
“Angry?” the man inquired; a composed smile forming as he began to intensify his focus on Liza’s every move.
“No…just wondering…” Liza began, still guarded.
“Wondering what,” the man asked. Something about his tone made her think he already knew the answer…
“Wondering how you think you know so much about me,” Liza answered, her cheeks growing flush as her nostrils flared with each exhale.
“I just know people, I know how people work…I think you need to slow down and look at the bright side, quit being so hard on yourself…you know, actually live life…” the man replied, “you aren’t as bad off as you think…” he whispered, winking as he got up to leave.
“Where are you going…” Liza called out after him as he headed for the back of the train.
“I’m getting off on the next stop, you still have some work to do, think you should check your last ticket and do some more soul searching before you leave the train….” He replied, pausing briefly before continuing— “and remember, the train doesn’t stop until you are ready…be patient with yourself and you will know…good luck…”
The man quickly exited through the heavy black door. The crisply placed glass window was the same dark shade of black. She couldn’t see through it, not even a peep of light shone through. The handle didn’t help much either—it didn’t push, pull, turn or twist.
Defeated, Liza went back to her lonely seat. She was now the last passenger in the car, dozens of seats in an island of roaming cars and she was the only one left.
What did he mean—Liza wondered to herself as she rummaged through her bag before pulling out the last lottery ticket.
As the coin rubbed the flakes of silvery dust the winning numbers revealed themselves—14, 10, 88, 6, 15—she had all of them, every last one.
Liza put the penny down, taking a second to shake off her thoughts as she looked again, sure enough, her eyes weren’t playing tricks on her, she had won the ten-million-dollar prize.
She quickly ran towards the front of the train— “Miss…Miss…Hello…can anyone hear me,” Liza shouted, running down the aisle pushing every call button she came across.
The train-stewardesses voice broke over the speaker above— “Please remain seated, you aren’t ready to disembark, we will be with you shortly…”
Liza felt her insides give out, she had to get off this train. Her legs shook as she clutched the ticket tightly in her hand, fearing if she moved any faster, she would take off into the air.
Hours must have ticked by as Liza fell asleep once again. She awoke to the sound of a dining cart being pushed by, the sound growing louder until it came to an abrupt stop next to her dangling feet.
“You need to eat,” the woman whispered, her voice stern yet gentle.
“You have to reserve your energy, trust me the sooner you cooperate the sooner you can leave…we are trying to help you,” the woman continued an eager, pleading look on her face, her eyes showing concern.
“What do you mean, what do I need to do…” Liza asked curiously, unsure of how or why this was happening.
“If I have to answer that, then you really aren’t ready…” the woman added, handing Liza a key along with a note.
The note read: The ways of the world are fickle and more serious than you know. You have been given a second chance at life, use it to your advantage…chose between the following—money, freedom or happiness—you can only pick one so make sure you don’t waste your life waiting…good-luck, and when the time is right, the key will take you wherever you want to go…
Liza sat, even more confused than before. In her hands she held a ticket worth more money than she ever knew existed and yet somehow, she was still unhappy—
She turned the key over in her hand, it must belong to a door, a way out…but is that what she really wanted? Liza made her way back over to the heavy black door; a lone key-hole glistened prominently against the rather boring façade. She smiled, all the money in the world and she had to leave it all behind but it couldn’t be that easy, besides, she won that money…right?
Liza carefully pushed the key into the lock before giving it a hearty turn. The heavy door crept open; still air hit her like a wall. The light from the room behind her flooded into the pitch-black compartment, it was empty.
About the Creator
Writing my escape, my future…if you like what you read—leave a comment, an encouraging tip, or a heart—I’m always looking to improve, let me know if there is anything I can do better.
& above all—thank you for your time
There are no comments for this story
Be the first to respond and start the conversation.