Short Story: Destination Not Forgotten

The sound of feet are shuffling rapidly, and the people keep coming and going. I almost feel like I am part of my very own time lapse where I am sitting still, and everyone around me is moving quickly. My destination is a mystery because in reality I am just in it for the ride. Wherever I end up, is where I end up. I’m OK with that, because I think it makes things more interesting. My whole life has been filled with people coming and going, just like this train ride I am on right now. People enter, and then people leave when they have arrived at their destination. Some people leave impressions, others not so much. Sometimes it’s just a glimpse of a face, or even a tiny conversation, and others had a huge impact. Some positive, some not so much, but they all leave once they’ve reached their destination. I wonder, as I sit here on this train, with all these thoughts flowing through my mind, where is everyone going. Why was everyone’s destination to leave me, and not stand by my side? I don’t get to ever find that out because I am not living their life. I have to think about it a different way as well. In others eyes I was the person that arrived and then left when I reached my destination as well. Do they think the same thing as me, or is this something that doesn’t even concern them? I’m lost in the thought when I feel a slight bump on my shoulder. Immediately I scooch over as much as I can while muttering “sorry” under my breath. Not even glancing at who or what might have hit me. There is a good amount of space on this seat on the train, but I still continue to be bumped. I finally look slightly and notice someone looking at me. He smiles slightly, while I give him a confused look. In my head I’m thinking, “Do I know you?” as well as, “Please stop touching me.” His face has a look of concern with a slight twinkle of wonder in his eye. He smiles at me, despite my concerned unapproachable face and asks me a question.

“So where are you heading today?”

I stare at him for a second, still looking confused, when I finally realize, this person is really talking to me. He is genuinely asking me a question, where he actually looks like he cares about a response. I look away for a second trying to think up a response as if this was the hardest question anyone has ever asked me.

“Well, anywhere really.” I finally managed to say, and he gives me a look of acceptance.

“That sounds like a fun trip. I feel like that might have to be my next one.” He smiles at me and then looks forward. I stare at him for a second, and then scan the rest of the train. It’s not as busy as it was before, a lot of people have left and a very few remain. I am assuming the last stop is coming near before we are forced off the train. I look at him again, and he is still staring straight forward so I decide to ask him the same question.

“So, what about you? Where are you heading?” He looks at me surprisingly as if he had expected the conversation to go no further. I look away quickly assuming that maybe he didn’t actually want to talk. Maybe that was all the conversation he wanted, and I now have just broken the social vow of just literal small talk.

He looks back at me and smiles, “Oh just here and there, nothing to exciting. I got some errands I need to run, so nothing like you, which sounds like a day full of adventures.” He looked forward again, and his eyes seemed sad. He was forcing a smile and small talk, and I just couldn’t figure out why. I’m not much of a social bird myself, and I never know exactly what to say to keep conversation going, but for some reason with him, I just couldn’t help but pry.

I looked at him with concern, but he continued to not make eye contact. “Where are you really going?” I asked him, clearly seeing right through his words. He looked at me confused and hesitated before he spoke.

“I’m not good at this faking stuff, but I try really hard. It’s really sad when even a complete stranger can see through you huh?” He kind of chuckled and then breathed a deep sigh. The train came to a stop and made the announcement that this was the last stop and everyone had to get off. He looked up suddenly and looked around quickly.

“Oops, I guess I ended up missing my stop.” He laughed slightly. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you miss your stop.” I apologized while getting up to leave. “Oh no, it wasn’t you, don’t even apologize. I should probably stay more focused on my surroundings when I try to start up conversations with strangers.” He smiled and got up as well. We both walked out of the train and stopped before we went our separate ways.

“I’m going to visit my sister in the hospital, I just really wanted some distracting time, so thank you for allowing that time for me.” I stood there for a second surprised, but also expecting an answer like that. I could tell by his body movement, and even the tone in his voice there was something more going on. He wasn’t just going on any random trip, it was a trip that was very important to him. At this moment I realized that, that was a moment he needed someone, just as much as I needed someone as well. We both were put on that train, to help the other one out, without even realizing.

“You don’t have to thank me, honestly I should thank you for even starting a conversation. I didn’t know where I was going and now I do.” He looked at me confusingly. “Would you like some company on your walk to the hospital?” He looked surprised and then finally understood what I meant by knowing where my destination was now. He smiled and looked down at the ground, then back up at me.

“I would love that, thank you.”

It’s funny how things happen like this. People being at the right spot, at the right time, when someone needs you most. You never realize you need someone until they pop up out of nowhere, and kind of force themselves into your lives. One little question can bring you a whole new world. That’s what this little train ride did for me. I was planning on leaving and never coming back. I had no one here anymore that needed or wanted me. I had lost everyone and everything, and was on my last train out. Now I have a reason to continue, someone helped me without even knowing, and I helped someone as well. Sometimes not having a destination turns out to be the biggest surprise of your life, and this destination will never be forgotten.

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