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THE TRAIN RIDE
By Chris Bedell

 

 

 

“I can’t believe you’re breaking up with me, Kelly. Didn’t I mean something to you?” I asked.

She rolled her eyes at me. “Of course you did. But what do you expect me to say? Because we’ve been drifting apart since the last week of August.”

The wind whistled outside the train window, which made me glad to be outside instead of inside. There was nothing more annoying than cold air nipping my face. Kelly and I were on our way back from New York City and headed to Ivywood, Connecticut, which was one of those snotty suburban towns. Except the stereotype was unfortunately true in this case. And wasn’t only because Ivywood was part of Fairfield Country. Parents were so pretentious in Ivywood. They worked themselves into panic attacks if their children didn’t know what their summer activities or jobs were by Thanksgiving, which was worth chuckling about since today was the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

She narrowed her gaze. “Don’t act stupid. We’ve each developed separate lives at our colleges.”
The train screeched before coming to a complete halt. Although various people flocking off the train didn’t make it any less crowded since more people replaced the ones that left. In fact, one of the people that sat down a few seats in front of us, would have made my grandma scoff. The lady, who couldn’t have been older than twenty, had blue pastel hair, eyebrow and nose piercings, a dress with a bunch of peace symbols on it, and a rose tattooed on both of her wrists. Although she kind of made up for her shocking appearance by owning a Gucci purse. Sure. The woman’s one fancy item might have seemed odd given her appearance. But life was full of contradictions. Also, I only happened to recognized it even if I couldn’t see the label since Mom had the same one. Having one designer item wouldn’t have saved her appearance in Grandma’s eyes, though, because she had more questionable factors than nice factors. And Grandma loved judging people.

“That doesn’t mean that I want to dump you,” I said.

“But we’ve only seen each other once since we went off to college,” Kelly said, twirling a strand of her blonde hair.

“Well, that wasn’t my fault. I’m the one that always tried making plans with you. But that was too difficult…” My gaze shifted to the view from the window. Trees continued bobbing in the window while black draped the night sky, making me thankful that we took the train instead of driving. Sure. Always living in fear might not have been smart. But driving in the dark wasn’t for everyone. And it wasn’t like we tried staying out as late as we could. Having a wild night would have been a disservice to us since we both had to drive back to our respective colleges tomorrow afternoon.

However, taking the train twice, enjoying a Broadway play (we saw Hamilton), having a meal and walking around made a lot of the day go by faster than expected.

“Our schools are two hours away from each other, Rob.”

I tugged at the sides of my leather jacket, making a twinge of nostalgia roll through my body.

Feeling reminiscent had nothing to do with being dramatic. I just couldn’t help myself since Kelly was the one who gave me the leather jacket for my fifteenth birthday. My parents couldn’t afford it at the time. Kelly’s parents originally made more money than my parents until Dad found a better job as president of a hedge fund. “Good to know how you feel…”

“I’ve made up my mind, and I would appreciate some respect.”

“Well, I’m sorry if breaking up isn’t easy for me. It’s not like I can forget how we’ve been dating ever since the eighth grade.”

Kelly shook her head. “You’re wrong. This isn’t easy for me.”

The train stopped again, but it still wasn’t time for us to leave. People once again got off the train as more people replaced the departed travelers. The train continued on its way after another beat or two.

I scowled at her. “Did you even want to come today?”

“Of course I did. You know I will always care about you.”

My pulse rang in my ears. Oh well. Living in an obnoxious suburban town couldn’t solve all of my problems since I always worried about anything and everything. “Fine. You’re right. I’ve been in denial a long time.”

She sighed. “I understand.”

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Of course,” Kelly said, nodding.

“Is there someone else?”

Kelly averted her gaze, looking at a spider crawling on the floor in front of us. She smacked it with her shoe. “Yes. But I told him nothing could happen between us until I talked to you.”

“Thanks for not breaking up with me over a text.”

“I would never do that to you.” Kelly wiped a piece of lint off her pea coat.

“Will you at least still drive me home since your car is in the train station parking lot?” I asked.

She inhaled a deep breath. “Of course.”

I picked at one of my nails while the train stopped and the cycle of people getting on and off once again repeated.

Remaining quiet had nothing to do with not getting my way since what I said earlier was still true. Spending years dating someone couldn’t be forgotten about-as much as Kelly might have wished that were true.

“I hope you know that I never wanted to hurt you.” She tried grabbing my hand, but I pulled away.
“Kelly, please!”

Sure. There was nothing wrong with a comforting gesture such as holding someone’s hand, patting a shoulder, or giving a hug. But it was way too soon to think about us being friends.
My gaze returned to the window and I would have laughed if right now wasn’t such a serious time. We were so busy arguing that I ignored the pattering of the rain and the thick layer of fog cloaking the air.

Kelly sighed. “I really do wish you well.”

That was easy for her to say. Kelly wasn’t the one trying to balance a bunch of different thoughts and emotions at once. Or maybe she was and hid it better than me. Regardless, Kelly should have let the silence be since she couldn’t put me back together. Kelly was the one that dumped me. And I wouldn’t dignify Kelly’s insensitivity because causing a scene was the last thing I wanted.

The screeching train stopped and we got off and stepped onto the sidewalk. More people descended the train stairs behind us before scurrying off into dozens of different directions.

Oh well. I could at least be glad the rain stopped no matter how annoying everything was. At least for the moment.

I tilted my head back at her. “You don’t have to drive me home. I can call my mom.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Well, I guess this is goodbye.”

“Goodbye, Kelly.”

“Be well.” Kelly opened her arms and seemed like she was about to gesticulate at me to give her a hug. However, Kelly’s arms soon fell to her sides. Her high heels scraped the ground as she walked towards the parking lot.

The cawing of birds echoed in the background even if the fog made seeing them slice through the sky impossible.

I pulled my iPhone out from my jacket pocket and dialed a number. “Hi, Mom. Change of plans. I’m going to need you to pick me up from the train station.”

I pressed END after Mom agreed, and put my iPhone back in my shorts’ pocket. I checked my leather jacket for any valuables before tossing into a nearby garbage can. Sure. Being cavalier was wrong since the jacket cost $75. But I didn’t need a reminder of Kelly. I was so over her. Or least I would be in time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author
Chris Bedell's previous publishing credits include essays on Thought Catalog, short stories on the online literary magazines: Crab Fat Literary Magazine, Short-Story.me, Quail Bell Magazine, Abbreviate Journal, Pidgeonholes Magazine, Chicago Literati, The Vignette Review, and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, while his creative nonfiction personal essays have been published on Inklette Magazine, Sprout Magazine, and Entropy Magazine. The writing podcast-The Drunken Odyssey published one of his hybrid creative nonfiction personal essays/book reviews. He also became a blog writer for Moledro Magazine and has a creative nonfiction personal essay forthcoming in The Creative Truth. Chris graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and is pursuing an MFA in Creative and Professional Writing at William Paterson University.

 

 

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