Wreck, Draft

She widened her eyes, then squinted.

A single point appeared from deep within the tunnel.

She stood near the middle of the platform, northbound side. Not too many people waited around her, just a few latenight commuters, a few awkward couples on midweek dates.  She held her arms slightly away from her body. Her jeans clung to her legs and her back felt sticky underneath her lightweight t-shirt. Sweat pasted her hair to her forehead. The summer heat had seeped through the streets down into the tunnels, turning the underground maze into a giant steamroom. No one talked; no one held hands. Everything perspired.

Her heart raced.

The approaching train pushed hot air through the station. Its nearing, thunderous momentum shook the platform. The train’s lights grew larger and soon she saw its whole face. She saw the front windows; she saw the door you can’t open from the inside. She saw the driver. She took a deep breath.

She timed it.

She closed her eyes.

For a split second, her body stayed mid-air.

Silence surrounded her as the train slammed into her, punched that last breath from her lungs,  bumping her forward a few feet before she fell onto the tracks.

She figured not to jump over the space between the rails, on the chance of the train passing over her and maybe even allowing her to survive. She tumbled and bounced between the rail nearest the platform and the far rail.

And, the third, high-voltage rail.

The brakes screeched. The train lurched. But she did not hear or feel this. She did not hear witness screams. She did not hear voices of loved ones in her mind or see flashes of friends’ faces. She did not smell her skin burn.  She did not feel ribs crack or organs crush or limbs sever or her own breathing arrest; her own corpse, a tattered lump.

Her eyes fell open.

10 thoughts on “Wreck, Draft

  1. i like this, it has a lot of intensity. its a bit narrow, try to flesh it out a little more, give some voice to the other senses

  2. Initial thought: Put a paragraph break between ‘her to survive.’ and ‘She tumbled’.
    I note you keep the concept of ‘her’ even after death. Is this a larger trait to your writing and outlook, or something intrisic to the story?
    More after I re-read, re-read, re-read, have a nap, and some soup.

  3. Okay, soup consumed, nap had, story reread. In counterpoint to Kyle, I like the thin, bones-and-breath style for this piece. My only negative critique would be grammatical. “Not too many people waited around her, just a few latenight commuters, a few awkward couples on midweek dates.” should be two thoughts minimum, in my mind. “. Just” Perhaps a para break afterwards as well, moving the focus from the population to the heat. But eh. I’ve always been a bit structured in that.
    Positive critiques include the lack of answers and the palpable desperation, both of which are the companions of many a suicide, and so I give you kudos for pulling that out of a page.
    Keep writing, O She Of The Touched Ceiling.

  4. Francis. Dear friend.

    I knew there was a reason I’ve kept you around all these years.

    Valuable stuff, yours.


  5. What does she hear?

    I hear the rumble before I see the distant headlight.

    I may hear the horn or the bell, depending on the transit authority.

    I would hear the crescendo of the screams on the platform. But not the top or the downside of the parabola.

    For me, as the one who hears way less than the average bear, that is what I want.

  6. The sentence Frank (I’m assuming that’s you Frank!) mentioned also made me stumble a bit, as did the phrase “witness screams.” I had to re-read both and then pick up again. It could just be the way my eyes are translating it to my brain though. Maybe “she didn’t hear the screams” fits more with the bare-bones tone of the piece? Also coming from the structure angle, maybe no paragraph break between the first two sentences as well as between “…onto the tracks” and “She figured not to..” To my brain that zips things up more tightly and leaves space for the impact of the other separate paragraphs.

    Just some observations on an already great piece (as always!). And I still have a picture of the very moment when you touched that ceiling.

  7. Thanks, Sarah. Very helpful. I’ll consider the witness screams line a little more. It does seem a bit bulky. As far as pacing and separating/conjoining thoughts, I can’t budge too much, as I know this is a pretty unreliable narrator. I know folks want a firmer grasp on setting when they can’t quite get inside of the woman’s head. Believe me, I’d like to make this prettier in some ways, but I can’t.

    You guys, I had all but forgotten about touching the ceiling. And to think you were referring solely to my feminist tendencies. 🙂 Perhaps scan that photo and post it in facebook?

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