There could have easily been a thousand of us on the platform. Around us, life bustled on, unseeing, unfeeling of our presence. I watched as people sped by, bristling with purpose. I wondered if perhaps they knew, in some corner of their minds, that one day like those of us on the edge of the platform, they too would wait for the train on this side.
On my side, unlike the other, we stood silently waiting for our train. Grandmother had often told me of the train, “Be good, little child,” she would say to me, “be good so the train takes you home.” I wish she here were with me now.
“I reckon it will be a jolly ride.” said the man beside me.
“I don’t know,” I said, “it’s my first time.”
He chuckled, “Of course it is, my dear,” he said with a hint of sarcasm. I was going to answer, but then I didn’t know what to say to that. Did some people make this journey more than once?
“How did you get here?” a lady in a red dress asked. She was dark as coal, wand her lips, coloured a shade so red it could have been blood, momentarily distracted me.
She poked me with long fingers, each adorned with a ring. These rings could have fed my family for a lifetime, I thought.
“Car accident,” I said stammering a little.
“Humph, lucky you,” She said. I was confused; how could I be lucky to have been stuck in a mangled car a thousand miles from home?
“My husband sent me here so he could take my money and run off with his secretary.” She offered.
“These rings are all I am left with, but at least I have them. They’re worth a fortune, you know?” She said.
Would her rings follow her aboard the train? I didn’t think so.
“Do you know where we are going?”
I turned to see who had spoken to me. This time it was a little girl.
“I am not sure.” I said to the little girl; she could not have been more than five years old; I wondered if she was scared to be alone with all these people. Did people feel fear on the platform?
“You can hold my hand if you’re afraid.” I said stretching my arm out to her. She took it and smiled.
“I’m not, but thank you. I hope we are together when the train stops.” She said.
I looked at the little girl; her eyes were so bright, and somehow I felt that she knew more than most of us on that platform.
“Do you know where we are going?” I asked her.
“Not really, but I know it is home.” Home, that word that Grandmother had used too. I smiled.
“I think you are right.” I said and squeezed her hand.
“Free pass for home, free pass; buy one get one free,” I looked up to see a man peddling his goods. He had all sorts in his cart. Watches, cans of food, you name it, but he seemed more focused on handing out the pieces of paper he had with him.
He stopped in front of us, “free pass, Miss,” he said.
I took one from him and examined the intricately designed piece shaped like a business card, the words FREE PASS written in curly script at the centre.
The little girl looked at me, “I don’t think we need this, Ona.” I hadn’t told her my name.
“Are you sure, Miss? With this you’ll get through the gatekeeper without any questions.” he said.
Was that possible? No questions at the gate?
I handed the card back to the man, “thank you sir, but I’m sure.”
A sudden blaring filled the station; I was sure there would be frenzy, but nothing happened. People still went about their businesses.
“All aboard the eternity express.” I heard the announcer say. I wondered vaguely if it was the same announcer that called for the other trips, they sure sounded the same.
The train stopped in front of me, and soon people started moving inside. I saw the man from earlier enter, and wondered where the lady in the red dress was.
With one last look at the busy passengers oblivious to the silent platform, with its train cars on the railroad of no return, I squeezed the little girl’s hand, stepped off the platform and onto the train.
Anne is a writer, who is also an Information Technology specialist. She writes short stories, loves to read, and loves to watch TV; she loves storytelling in any form. She lives somewhere in Nigeria with her family.