Thursday, November 4, 2021

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 224


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Flash fiction lightning streak image


This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. She posts an image as an inspirational prompt for writing a story. This is from Miranda's post: This week's photo prompt was taken by Jonathan Steele, an American photographer. He calls it Winter Train. He says: Essex Steam Train passing through Deep River Ct during a snowstorm. (that's Essex in Connecticut in the US).

Here's a link to the prompt image. Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Mine has 351 words for those who are counting, a bit on the short side.


Great Expectations

K. R. Smith

When the nights are cold and the wind is still, sound can travel a long way. You can hear a branch crack under the weight of the ice a mile away. Or the cry of a fox. The whistle of a train on the other side of the valley can sound like it's right next to you. And you heard it again tonight.

You'd expected to, though, hadn't you? But you're never sure quite when. You down a glass of whisky and think, maybe not this time. And just as you start to drift off, it comes, piercing your mind with its shrill blast. So, you put on your coat and boots and walk into a frigid winter's evening.

Remember the time you decided to play it smart, to outwit them all? On that special day, one week before Christmas, you packed a little food in a sack and went down to the station and waited. It's busy, as people are traveling for the holiday. Shivering and shuddering in the snow, feet half frozen, the time dragged on until it was dark. And when you thought you'd finally broken the cycle and decided to head home? That damned whistle blew again.

Still, it's worth it all to see her, even if it's only for a moment. At least you try to convince yourself so.  Sweet and young, beautiful and smiling, she's waiting at the station. You smile back and start to run towards her. Her arms are outstretched, reaching for you as the train arrives, but you can't run fast enough, can you? There's ice and snow on the platform. No matter how many times you try, you're always just a second too late.

She screams as she slips beneath the wheels, then it's all over. In an instant, she's gone. It's all gone. There's no train, no Emily, no crowd waiting to board. It's back to the rusty tracks of a rotting station closed almost twenty years ago.

And what remains is cold silence—except for the crack of a branch or the cry of a fox—until next year.

 
© 2021 K. R. Smith All rights reserved

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