Train TracksA Story by Kate
Minimalist fiction. The story of a girl.
Through the house’s backyard passes a railroad track, cutting through high grass until it fades into a pinprick in the distance. The night is cloudy, a full moon occasionally breaking through the darkness to stroke the ground. Inside the saltbox house a girl is sitting at the table, drumming her fingers against the edges of her dinner plate. A man and a woman are seated also, picking at their food.
“You should have some of the Jack in the Box I picked up,” says the man.
“I’m not hungry,” says the girl.
“But you have to.” The man pushes the plate towards her.
“I don’t want any.”
“Eat it.” A silence follows.
“I got a job at the store today,” the woman says.
“That’s great. If you had started last year you might have made manager by now.”
“Then she wouldn’t have met you,” says the girl.
“That would have been horrible,” the man says.
“Completely,” says the girl.
“Honey, we should go to that restaurant for dinner tomorrow. We need to celebrate your great new position in the store.”
“I can’t go,” says the girl.
“I was asking your mother.”
“She can’t go.”
“Yes I can,” the woman says.
“But you promised " “
“Don’t tell her what she promised or not,” says the man. “She wants to go to the restaurant. She can’t be your personal slave all the time.” He reaches over the table.
“Ow!” she says. “Stop!” Silence fills the room.
“After dinner could you go get some chips for the game tonight? You could use your employee discount,” the man asks.
“I need to do my nails for tomorrow,” says the woman. “It’s my first official day.”
“You could run out and get some before you paint your fingers.”
“So how was your day?” asks the woman.
“Fine,” the girl says.
“Mine was lonely without you, baby. How am I gunna manage with you gone all day? I’m gunna to miss you,” says the man.
“Me too,” says the girl.
“Sorry?” says the woman.
“I’m done,” the girl says. She stands up, turns her back on them.
“No you’re not,” he says.
A distant train sounds its horn, low and long.
In the room there is a flash of motion. Skin contacts skin. The girl gasps.
“May I please, please be excused?” the girl asks.
“Only if you clean up your plate,” he says.
She rises and leaves the room, carrying her plate into the cramped kitchen. Over the window hangs her mother’s dream catcher, traced by dust that had long ago settled in its crevices. Behind it she can see the smoke stack of the train rising up to meet the moon’s light midway. She brushes the dream catcher gently, pushing it aside to get a better view of the train. She watches as it moves away, squinting as it grows smaller and disappears. The girl runs her fingers along the edge of the window, down the neck of the faucet.
“What’s taking so long? Where is she?” the woman asks.
“She’s probably still in the kitchen,” says the man. “Don’t worry about her.”
“Whatever you say,” the woman says.
© 2010 Kate