Expect Delays

Written by Mel O’Connor

The purgatorial nature of a train trip is uniquely heightened when another passenger calls each stop before it passes. He’s my arch-enemy, I think. It’s the smug little smirk he does when he raises a thumb to the V/Line employees. It’s the mocking tone in his voice when he precedes their announcements like a dark harbinger, stealing their work away from them, hoarding it for himself. Worst of all, it’s my inability to intuit his motivations for this behaviour. I don’t know his name, but I know his face. I see it at night when my dreams change tone.

That’s why I’m certain that when I die, it will be in a showdown against him, our silhouettes set by lightning. The trains will rattle by us. He’ll be wearing his homemade counterfeit V/Line lanyard, purple paper and paste. I’ll be wearing my very best dress. It will be over in a flash, white lightning fissure holding the sky captive. The security cameras will be the only thing that catches us before I hurl us both forward beneath the caboose. Neither of us will explain our reasons. He won’t offer me respite from the hours of agony spent trying to decipher him, just as I won’t offer him justification for my homicide. But at last the train station will be free of him. You’ll be able to hear the announcements, once he’s gone.

Mel’s work appears in the Tension, Taboo, Myth, Ethereal, Illusion, Epilogue, Silence, and Genre editions of WORDLY Magazine.

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