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One Missed Train

by RandomTalks

11:14 PM

He clutched the ticket in his hand forcing his legs to go faster than was possible. He could feel it now, he could feel the train waiting at the station, it's doors stretching to close but not yet, not without him. He had to make it. He could not miss this train. He rushed down the escalator skipping two steps at a time, yes, there it was - the train, the doors still wide open as if beckoning to him to move faster. He was going to make it. He could feel it now. And then suddenly -

"Hey! Look where you are going!"

Before he could decide whether to apologize or shout at the man he had crashed into, he heard the train doors closing. "No wait!" he yelled, but to no avail. The train started with a screech and moved on leaving him behind. He stood there, in the middle of the near deserted station, wondering what he was going to do now. He could feel his heart beating in his chest, he could almost hear it in the silence of the night. Just for a few seconds, he had missed his train, he had missed his chance.

He dragged himself to a bench and sat down with his briefcase. It didn't seem nearly as important to him as it had that same morning when he had left the house without wishing his wife a happy birthday, fearing that if he didn't leave in that very moment and waited for her to come out of the bathroom, he would miss the meeting. After all, everything he did was for her, was for their daughter. Why didn't it feel enough then? Why did he feel like he was going to lose everything he ever had?

He checked his watch, 11:20. The next train was at 11:30. There was no way he was going to make it in time now. He pulled out his phone to let her know that he was running late. It was dead, he hadn't thought of charging it once during the entire day. He cursed himself, and held his head in his hands. It really was over now.

The first time he met his wife, he had missed his train. He remembered being frustrated about work, and feeling like he was going to be stuck in that same minimal paying job for the rest of his life. He had been so lost in his musings that he hadn't realized when the train had come and gone. It seemed like one of those things from the movies, like it was meant to happen, like it was in god's plan. because there in the next train he boarded, stood the most beautiful girl he had the fortune of meeting in his life, clutching at least three bags in one hand and biting her nails with fierce concentration. She always shopped when she was anxious, that was the first thing he had learnt about her. It had seemed sweet at the time and he even enjoyed her nervous prattling when she took out the bill and promised to return all the items the very next day in the first few years of their marriage. Now that he thought of it, he could not remember when she had stopped coming to him with all her guilty pleasures.

He remembered those early days of their relationship when everything was perfect. That first encounter at the train had made him miss his train every day so that he could see her home from music school. Those moments of first getting to know each other, and realizing God had made someone just like him so that he wouldn't be lonely in this world - he could relive it all over again. they had dated for over a year when he had proposed marriage to her. He remembered that exact moment - they were at the theatre watching a dramedy that had the comedy missing from it and she was laughing so hard at some scene only she found funny and he knew, he knew then that there was no one else in the world he would rather go to boring theatres with.

The distant rumbling of the approaching train brought him back to reality. He got up with his briefcase, and waited with the two other passengers in the lonely station. He took a seat by the window, and glanced at his watch. 11:30. Would she still be waiting at their restaurant? Or would she have gotten up, cursed his entire existence and marched home in order to binge on ice cream. She did have a temper after all. He had realized that especially after she became pregnant with their daughter. That was when the money problems started. He had a desk job, and she played at clubs with her college band. He knew they could not support a child with what they earned. And he was tired of being criticized by their families for their poor life choices. So he started working overtime. Those were long years. He worked double shifts, he made his sales, and he gathered more clients. Soon he had his own separate office, his own separate title, but still it wasn't enough. Their daughter had more than what she could ask for; she was healthy, went to a good school, had every other opportunity to become successful in life, but still it wasn't enough. Not for him. He had to be at the top. He had to be the best. No one should be able to look down at him or criticize him again. He was going to ensure that. And he did.

He finally had all he wanted. He was happy. So when Sophie suddenly announced a week ago that she was going home, he fell from the sky.

"What do you mean Soph? You are home."

She laughed. " Jack, honey, this has not been a home for a really really long time. Besides Sara's a grown up now, she can handle herself."

"Wait a second," he said getting up from the bed, "You are serious?"

She looked at him for a while and then shook her head with a small smile.

"Sophie, look at me. I know we have been fighting a little more than often these days, but you don't have to leave. We are a family, we don't leave."

"A family Jack? Tell me, when was the last time you have been a part of this family? Really, tell me."

"What are you saying? When have I not been there for you both? I was there for Sara's sweet sixteen, I organized the whole damn thing! I was there when she gave a speech in front of the school and I was there when you opened your new club and sang in front of a hundred people. Could you not see me Sophie? Do you not see me?"

"Well done, you got all of the days that's circled on the calendar! What about the days that are not circled Jack? What about every day?"

"I work Sophie! I have to go to work so that we can have a better life, so that our daughter can have every thing she wants."

"Wake up Jack! Open your eyes. Our daughter already has every thing she wants. You spend more time in that office than you do in this house, and it was okay for a while, but I am tired, I am so tired of this. You don't include me in your decisions, you inform me that you are in a different city over a freaking phone call, and sometimes you don't even find that necessary!"

"Look at me Sophie. Every thing I do is for you. Don't you see?" he asked, the desperation now seeping into his voice.

"I am not your responsibility Jack, I am your wife. And Sara is your daughter. When are you going to realize that?" she said.

" It's okay, I am going to leave early from now on, I will get to spend more time with you guys. I will go to your shows, I will be better, I promise, It will be okay."

"No it won't. You don't have to do anything. I am sorry. I thought I could do this, but I can't, I am sorry."

She turned away and before she could catch her hand, she slipped out of the room. "Soph, wait, where are you going? Don't you love me anymore?"

The train jerked to a stop. He didn't wait to catch a breath, he jumped to his feet and began running. 11:55. She couldn't possibly be waiting for him anymore. Even if they were in a city that never slept, it was late. She had asked him to meet her, to talk about this, to find out together where they lost sight of each other. And even if it made for one hell of a depressing birthday dinner, she had still agreed to to do this. She still wanted them, she still wanted him. And now, she could be gone. And he could have lost her forever. He ran faster. The restaurant wasn't that far from the train station. It was where they had their first date, that is if he did not count the several train rides and it held a lot of memories for both of them. He cold see it now, he could see the turn in the road that would lead him there. But he was afraid to take it, he was afraid to find out. He wanted to stop right there, take a few breaths and prepare himself for all the situations that could happen, but it seemed like his legs never received the message. For they never stopped. They continued running, and he was there.

And there she was, standing outside their restaurant, looking as beautiful as the first day he had met her. She was turning here and there, searching for something, searching for him, he realized. And he had kept her waiting. For years.

He ran the last few steps to her and as soon as she recognized him, she turned away and started walking, but this time he caught her hand.

"I am sorry. I missed the train, I am really sorry," he said.

"Oh you are sorry? You kept me waiting till 12 in the morning in the restaurant all alone on my birthday and you are sorry?" she asked.

"Soph, wait!" he said running after her, "Sophie please wait for a second."

Suddenly she turned around and crossed her arms across her chest. "What? What can you possibly say to me in one second that's going to change my mind, that's going to erase the last few years you have stayed as a guest in your own home?"

"I love you,"

"I am sorry," she said shaking her head, "that's not good enough." Just as she was turning away he caught her hand again.

"I love you Soph, and I want to be with you. That's all I know. That's all I have. My love for you. And I am sorry that I hurt you, and that I lost my sight of you over the years, but I can't, I can't lose you."

He paused and swallowed hard. "I am not perfect okay? I make mistakes, I take wrong decisions and I forget what's really important. But I never forgot you Sophie. I got too busy painting the picture, but you are the frame. You hold it together; without you, it all falls apart, I fall apart. And I am sorry if that's a ridiculous example; you see, I prepared an entire speech on my way over here but the moment I see you, there is only one thing I know and that is that I love you. Please, just give me one last chance, give us a chance."

She looked at him. He could see the tears in her eyes, but he also knew she was never going to let them fall. Because that's the way she was. He pulled out a box from his case and put it her hand. It was a very small model of a house with 3 tiny figurines standing in front of it. She shook her head.

"It's not my birthday anymore."

"And it's not a gift. It's a promise."

She looked up at him again and his heart stopped beating because he did not understand that look. She put the box in her bag and stepped away without shifting her eyes from him. When she was at least three feet away, she cleared her throat.

"A known record label heard us at the club last night. They think we have great potential, and they want us on tour. It starts next week, and I...I have agreed to go,"

He took a minute to process that. "That's great. Sara will leave for college in 2 days and I will take some weeks off work. It will be awesome. We can-"

"No Jack, you don't understand. I want to do this on my own. I want this for myself. For so long, I have been your wife and our daughter's mother and it was good. But now I just want to be me. I want to not think about all this and concentrate on who I wanted to be and never became."

He swallowed and she paused.

"This doesn't mean that It's over. I heard you. And you heard me. Maybe for the first time," she said. "I just need this, and I wanted to let you know."

He nodded, mostly because he didn't know what else to say. But it was alright. It was going to alright.

'Soph?" he called. "You are the mother of my child, the love of my life and the girl I missed all those trains for. And I just wanted you to know, I am really sorry."

She nodded, "I know."

"I will see you then?"

"I will see you."

She turned around again and walked away this time. But he didn't lose hope. He checked his watch, it was past midnight. A new day. And as he watched her get into her car, he realized it was his new chance. His new hope.

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20 Reviews

Points: 2982
Reviews: 20

Sun Apr 25, 2021 3:24 am
winterwolf0100 wrote a review...

So I read this last night and only realized now (24 hours later) that I hadn't actually left a review like I intended to. (Oops!) My thoughts may be a bit muddled because I did, like I said, read it 24 hours ago and I may not remember every exact detail, but here we go:

Okay, so first off, I just want to say what an amazing piece this is. Seriously. I have difficulty reading short stories because if I don't get into the story right away, I can't focus on it. I have to change what I'm doing if I'm not intrigued. It's especially hard for me to get into stories written in 3rd person because there's something about it that just makes it more difficult for my mind to process it. But with your story, I couldn't stop reading. I genuinely enjoyed it, and wouldn't be writing a review if I didn't.

Secondly, you have mastered the short story technique. You didn't leave me wanting more-- at least, not to a cliff-hanger point. Of course I would've loved to read more, but it also felt like a satisfying way to leave him, even though we didn't know exactly what was going to happen. It wasn't a fairytale ending-- it was just a regular one. It was the type of ending you could see in the real world, which made it all the more impactful for me personally as a reader.

Now, onto some minor details:

Before he could decide whether to apologize or shout at the man he had crashed into, he heard the train doors closing.

As far as I remember, we don't ever hear what happens to the man he crashed into. A simple "When he turned around, the man was nowhere in sight, and he had missed his train" would make sense and let the reader know that the man wasn't about to be a main character in the short story. (I originally thought he was going to be until a few paragraphs later when I finally realized he wasn't coming back into the story.)

He checked his watch, 11:20. The next train was at 11:30.

So... this is already quite late if he was hoping to make it to dinner with her. And in reality, a ten minute difference in the trains means he would only be... 10 minutes late? It seems given the situation he would've attempted to get home a little before 11:20 if he was planning to have dinner with her at a restaurant, but as far as I recall, him getting off late from work wasn't really addressed. If he is already late and already freaking out about missing this train, then the 10 minute wait would make sense. If he was supposed to take the 10:00 train but lost track of time at the office, then him freaking out about an 11:30 train versus an 11:20 train is completely understandable. Just make sure you address why he's already out so late and address why that 10 minute difference makes such a big impact.

"What do you mean, Soph? We are home."

This is a beautiful and perfectly timed flashback. The only thing I'm missing is some action on his part. I want to know how he said this line. Did he say it with hurt? Anger? Confusion? Did he speak it or did he yell it? Maybe he faltered as he was saying it. Giving just a bit of detail towards the beginning of the conversation will lead into everything else. It's completely okay to not give descriptors on every dialogue line-- in fact, it's encouraged. But at the beginning of the dialogue, it helps the reader get a read on the situation and on the character's feelings about it.

"I'm sorry," she said shaking her head, "that's not good enough."

I have no commentary on this other than WOW. That lines packs a punch.

"It's not my birthday anymore."

"And it's not a gift. It's a promise."

Okay again, basically nothing to say other than this line is fantastic. I would give a small note that a house with figurines in it seems very... on the dot. Is there nothing a bit more sentimental or personal he could've given her, something like a model of a train with people in it or something along those lines? I understand the sentiment behind it but also... what is she going to do with a mini house that has three people in it, you know? Just a thought. I'm really just nitpicking at this point.

"It starts next week and I... I agreed to go."

So the record label heard them the night before, and in one day, they already scheduled a lineup of tours and talked to all the band? That seems very quick, especially since other band members might probably need more time to think about it. The record label would also probably need several months to get together a tour schedule, since tickets for things like that start selling months in advance. It might make more sense if she planned to tell him about leaving at the birthday dinner but she had known for a few months, and had agreed back when he was barely paying attention to her and she felt like there was nothing left for her to stay for.

She turned around again and walked away this time.

So this is a really cute way to begin to tie up the story. The only question I'd have is why they are not going home together since they still live together? If she's staying somewhere else then you may need to specify that earlier in the story so the reader knows.

Honestly, this story was amazing! It really allowed the reader to feel close to Jack even if they were just learning about him, and to sympathize with both him and his wife and the problems they're having in their relationship at the moment. You did absolutely fantastic with this, and I really hope I'll get to see more work from you like it soon.

As for everyone I review, my PMs are always open if you want to discuss your story further, talk writing in general, or just chat! I hope this helps, and stay safe! : )


RandomTalks says...

Thank you so much for taking out the time to review my work. It was really detailed and helped me understand a lot of little things about my writing.
Also, they are not going home together, because she drove to the restaurant in her car, I think I specified that in the second last line or something. Thank you again!

Of course! I only write reviews if I feel I have enough to say, because otherwise it takes your work out of the Green room and you don%u2019t get any reviews from other people. In regards to the car, that makes sense! Maybe she should specify that she needs to think on her ride home, because otherwise he%u2019d probably just ride in the car with her home I%u2019d think.

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7 Reviews

Points: 119
Reviews: 7

Sat Apr 24, 2021 2:56 am
KassandraRose wrote a review...

Really great story! I love your writing style, and everything flows really nice. The story line was incredible--I especially like how the story has the flashback in the middle. It adds more context to the story, and it is in the perfect place. It doesn't feel choppy or just thrown in there.
I also really like how the story doesn't exactly end with a happy ending, but more of a hopeful ending. I feel like this is very relatable to a lot of people. And the characters feel like real people that can be related to. Unlike some other stories where the characters seem flat and emotionless, in this stories the characters have real feelings and emotions that people everyday feel.
Overall, this story is amazing. Keep writing because you have talent!

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11 Reviews

Points: 722
Reviews: 11

Sat Apr 24, 2021 1:25 am
LizzyTyler says...

Good morning/evening/night,

This was a very well done short story. I only wish I could write half as well. It was a nice, hopeful, and sad, with a good amount of backstory, that ended with hope. It was not some sugar coated happily ever after. It was a real, touching, and painfully truthful short, calling forward real problems, and realistic people to make you think, and connect with.


[as a roleplayer is feeling sad about torturing her characters] RavenLord: "You're a writer, dear. Embrace it."
— RavenLord