I Asked For Your Company
I asked for your company.
It was dark beyond the window to my right. I hate the dark, the feeling that there is always something lurking in the blackness of night. The lights of the train station were dim, at best, but at times, nonexistent. The rain outside beat against the roof of the car and tap-tapped against the windows like tiny pebbles. Taped to the walls near the door were pictures, drawings, I guess done by little children with big imaginations. One was of a series of hearts and a music box that could have been playing a love song.
My skin itched from fear. My nerves burned as if on fire.
From my seat near the door of the train car, I saw you. Dark hair, cut short, a mole on your left earlobe. Sad eyes surrounded by bruised hollows, small nose, thin lips, a scar on your right cheek, put there by someone who didn’t think you were special or of any consequence. You were soaked from head to toe, as if you had just come out of the rain, much like I had. You looked lonely and downtrodden, as if you were running away from something … or someone. There was something familiar about you, something that felt like kinship, but I couldn’t place it.
You stared at me without seeing me, your eyes hauntingly distant. At that moment I thought I could love you forever if you would just speak to me, just say ‘Hello.’
“Stay here with me,” I whispered. You opened your mouth and spoke words I could not here over the steady drumming of rain all around us. You could have said anything. I asked you to repeat it, but I think you said something else instead. I know not what that was.
I asked for your company and you made no move to give it to me.
I reached for you when the train began to move, needing the touch of someone to allay my fears. My heart lifted into my throat. My stomach flipped several times. You put a hand out, fingers up, as if to stop me. You didn’t quite touch my fingers, but it was clear you didn’t want anyone touching you, least of all, me. I dropped my hand back into my lap and clutched at the small bag there, the one with the bare necessities to get me through with life. You lowered your hand as well, but I couldn’t see if there was anything in your lap.
You stared at me, unflinching as the world passed by us in the dim, almost brown color of the car’s ceiling lights. Outside, the rain pelted the glass and the clouds hid the moon and the stars from our view. Water seeped in through the windows and trailed down the walls like tears.
“They say the world is going to flood,” I said, hoping for conversation. I knew the topic was depressing, but ‘How’s the weather?’ sounded lame when I considered it had been raining for nearly two weeks.
You didn’t respond. I think I angered or upset you when I reached for your hand. I didn’t mean to. It’s just … it’s just … I was scared. I just needed comfort.
Water rose along the rails outside the car. It splashed along the sides and sprayed outward as the car picked up speed. It flowed in through the windows, some of them cracked in places.
I asked for your company as the dim lights on the car flickered. I looked up, as did you, to assure myself they were still on. The sound of water filled my ears and I tried to talk to you again, but I couldn’t hear my own voice inside my head, much less when I spoke. You looked much the same, eyes big and fearful, trying to speak but your voice carrying nowhere beyond your throat.
The train slowed, as if it struck an embankment along a river. Then it stopped. The lights flickered again, then went out entirely.
I asked for your company as water came in through the cracks in the doorway and the windows all around us, slowly at first, then faster, faster, faster.
We stood, yes, you and I, and ran for the door. I bumped my hip on the side of one seat and my feet came from beneath me. I tumbled to the floor and slid a foot or two before my shoulder struck the edge of one seat.
“Don’t leave me,” I yelled as I reached for you, but I couldn’t see you anywhere.
As water filled the car, I struggled to my feet, slipping once and falling back in headfirst. I swallowed water. I came up, my mouth open and searching for air.
“Help me! Don’t leave me!”
I got to my feet, maybe with your help, maybe not. I do not know, but when I stood, there you were, soaked from head to toe along with me. You stared, wild-eyed and terrified, but said nothing.
The water rose above my thighs and I waded toward the door. You did the same but you were so far away. Somehow we met there all the same, but … but somehow, you had gotten out and stood on the other side. The door was closed, as were the windows, yet we stood on opposite sides of the door.
I placed my hand to the glass. You did the same, this time not pulling away but reaching for me. Our hands seemed a perfect fit, a perfect match.
We both slapped at the door’s window. My fear of drowning kicked in, and from the expression on your face as you beat on the window right along with me, you had the same fear. I didn’t understand this at first. You were outside the car. You could swim to safety or climb on top of the train. Then I realized you weren’t scared for yourself, but for me.
I asked for your company when I was afraid and you stayed with me as the water rose above my waist. Your eyes grew wide and we must have had the same thought because I swung my fist as hard as I could at the glass door. You did the same. My knuckles split. So did the glass.
The weight of the water pushing on the window collapsed the cracked glass in on me. As I was shoved backward and carried to the back of the car on an icy cold wave, I saw you being pulled away, in the opposite direction. I screamed. I think you did, too.
I sunk beneath the water, the train car no longer a way to safety but soon to be a tomb. The drawing of the heart picture floated by me before it was sucked away, possibly on a current that would lead out to sea.
As the water filled the car well over my head, I lost you forever. I asked for your company and you stayed.
This was originally supposed to be a story for Stitched Smile Saturdays. The featured image was the actual prompt. After I completed the story, I realized I was nearly 300 words over the 1000 word limit. Even after culling back as many words as I could, I was still nearly 200 words over the limit. Instead of posting it to the SSS blog, I decided to hold it for later. I consider this later.
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