End of the Line
By: Tammy Vreeland
You find yourself waiting in line for a train. You are not sure how you got there or where you are going. There is a large crowd pushing to get on; many are anxious and excited but you are not, you take your time.
You look around and see all the seats are taken. A flash back to when you rode the school bus where there were no seats available and no one would let you sit with them.
You move from car to car. Finally towards the end you find cars of people standing, similar to a subway. You find an empty handle and grab it, as soon as you do the train starts to move.
You want to ask where the train is going but it is unusually quiet and no one will make eye contact with you. You look around to get your bearings.
There are large windows to see outside and you can see clearly things passing you by. At first, it is the country side and the train slows as if to let you see more.
You see a field of dogs and cats, they look vaguely familiar. Strangely, they grow from kittens and puppies to full size instantly. Once full size they look directly into your eyes before they disappear.
Your heart breaks with each passing look, for you know you will never see that look again.
Your latest pet looks around as if not able to see you. However, in the last moment they lock eyes with yours. You see a combination of fear and sadness which leaves you with a great sense of guilt.
Reeling from the heart ache you try to close your eyes but you cannot, you are forced to keep them open. You look around and see others in immense sadness as well.
Sighing you look back out the window, the field is gone. This time you see a small town beginning to appear, it is the town you grew up in. A sense of hope begins to creep up on you.
Not wanting to turn your eyes from the window that surely will give you comfort, a persistent need fills you to look forward. In front of you a large screen lowers. It shows you the cars in front of you with the people sitting down. You are allowed to see their reaction to outside first before you have your own.
Every one of them is happy and joyful. They wave to their friends and neighbors. The friends and neighbors wave back. Some come on the train and sit for a while, embracing them, while the ones outside the train continue to laugh, wave and talk to them through the window.
The train slowly rolls forward so that it is your turn. You see faces that you have not seen in many years. And though you are happy to see them, they act as if they do not know you.
Some who you thought of as your closest friends stand there and whisper about you, encouraging others to laugh at you instead of with you.
As with the emotion of sadness and guilt from your lost pets this time the pain brings along new emotions…betrayal and humiliation.
The raw emotions leave you broken, anxious and yet so tired. Not knowing if you can deal with it, the train moves forward to a nearby station. You look at the large screen in front of you and watch the seated people react once again.
You can tell this is a stop for family. It is one big happy family reunion. Grandparents coming on the train, embracing their loved ones while other family members stay outside. You can literally see the love radiating a warmth from them.
The time comes for your turn and you see your family on the platform. They sit there bored and uninterested. Your grandparents come on the train but walk right by you. A coldness like you have never felt before in your life envelopes you.
You look frantically back out at the platform for some sort of love that may warm you but the platform is empty. This time the emotion of abandonment not only adds to the other emotions but intensifies them.
The train slowly moves on but begins to pick up speed. The things you loved such as cars, games, even movies and books flash by you. They are nothing but empty memories. Nothing tangible that gives you comfort or warmth now.
The big screen in front of you begins to show you that the train is emptying out. You are not sure where the people have gone but you desperately want to move to where they were sitting. However, the train is moving too fast now.
Not wanting to, you look out your window for you cannot resist. You see images of now what you know to be life continuing on without you. You see your children moving easily on with their lives. Embracing the things that would hurt you the most. A sense of disappointment and failure floods over you.
The pain is unbearable and yet there is hope of one. One that may have that flicker of heat and love you so desperately crave and need. You finally see the love of your life and look! There IS a flame for you that burns brightly over his head!
Your shattered heart knows that the heat from that flame will mend all the broken pieces. You yearn for that flame and even try to reach out for it but the train does not allow it. You try to ignore the thought that nags at you as you watch his life quickly pass by.
Does not the flame seem to be getting dimmer? In fact, in time he seems almost content without you. Lives among friends, retires and enjoys his hobbies. A part of you yearns to be in front of the train where you can sit and wait for him but another part of you holds you back knowing that rejection will be your ultimate demise.
Finally the train comes to what you know is the last stop. You see the love of your life about to board. Doubt becomes stronger and you find yourself even further back in the train. You can just barely see him. The fire above his head is quite dim now but you desperately hope it is enough.
He steps onto the train and has a seat, as the doors close the slight breeze from the door blows out the flame. You can no longer see him.
You continue standing at the back of the train not knowing of anywhere to go. The final emotion has overcome you. One you have never experienced before. One with the combination of them all leaves you with no doubt what it is, for this must truly be death.
Background to End of the Line
This was actually a dream I had not too long ago. Usually, I am not into writing short stories but this one begged to be written down.
Many who have read it instantly jump on the band wagon that this is a religious dream. That it is obvious the people in the front of the train are going to Heaven and the standing ones in the back of the train to Hell.
However, my take is quite different. Recently I have been going through a wide range of emotions. You could even call me a train wreck, pun intended.
You will notice the varied amount of emotions tied to this dream. What I found most interesting was the sequence the dream took. Beginning with the loss of unconditional love from your pets and guilt of not being able to continue to make them feel safe and secure.
The dream continues with I suppose my greatest fears, the loss of friends, family and love. Even the people in the front provided me with two more emotions…being jealous and envious of what they had.
No words could ever really describe the intensity of this dream. The pure terror it instilled with each clackety clack the train made down the track. Nor the extreme emotional response I had in each part of the dream as each emotion was handed out.
The coldness along with the lack of color inside the train in comparison to vibrant and lush colors passing you by. In the end the train was old and filled with graffiti all around. I found myself at the back of the train surrounded by horrendous looking ghouls and monsters.
The people that had surrounded me in the beginning were no longer people but these monsters. Scared I look down and realized I was too.
Now this is where you might be quick to think aha! Demons on their way to Hell but at the time this is not what I thought in the dream. In fact, it was like a calm that came over me and it all made sense.
True my pets loved me, however animals can still love monsters. Friends and family over the years had abandon me for surely they must have known something I did not? The unknown of that alone made me question my other abilities, parenting or even holding on to true love.
However, each ghoul and monster unique in their own horror, they all had one thing in common. A deadness in their eyes, void of all emotion.
When given the chance to sit in the front where all the happy people were my doubt had chosen for me.
I had come to realize to sit in the front may give you happiness but with that one emotion all the other emotions are always nearby.
So you see in the end, the ultimate gift was not to feel pain as only humans can.
Compelling, sad, thoughtful...journey...darkly beautiful...perfect combination of words, music and images. I see this not as anything "good or bad", "heaven or hell"...rather just as it is; a human experience...Life
**Now available in White Noise Stories - Volume One with a new ending.