by Kyle Muntz
I've never liked waiting for trains.
There's an old woman beside the platform, dying where she stands. Her face looks so wrinkled it might fall off; her hands are claws tapering narrowly at the end, with feeble joints like variegated pendulums. I think she might be wearing a mask, but no, it's impossible—she's just carrying history, every second making it older, until minutes, until years pour backwards, into a place where even she isn't aware of them anymore (if she's aware of anything at all).
I've never liked wearing wrinkled clothes in public, but right now, I suppose I don't have a choice. I probably look like my own phantom, with big black streaks beneath either eye. This is the first time I've ever described myself as “gaunt”. I can't help but slouch. Even my brain is beginning to lurch.
The old lady turns in my direction. She can almost see—not quite, but almost. I think there might be a resemblance to my grandmother. I don't like her, I suppose, because I don't like my grandmother either.
It scares me to know my face will look like that someday.
At times like these, I can't help thinking how hideous we are, in crowds. There are lots of ugly things in the world, but nothing more repulsive than people; even now, as they shuffle from place to place (some with bags folded over their arms, others rolling their luggage in little carts across the ground—always looking down, looking forward, to keep from seeing anyone else's eyes), every step is a reminder: we aren't as beautiful as we would like to be (no, there's no beauty left in the world, or if there is I can't see it), and nothing forces you to realize that more than real people… but whenever I find myself here, in this “real world”, I can't bring myself to look away.
One thing I'm really good at is blaming other people. That's the only thing anyone is good at. Remembering that makes me feel better... but not by much.
I don't feel healthy, right now.
The old woman is still standing there. She hasn't moved since I got here (except a slight quiver behind her eyes—stroke, maybe? I can't say, but it seems like the rest of her should be shaking too) so maybe I was right, maybe she is a statue; maybe she's stood there for decades, without shifting, and she'll be there even when I die (which, with the way things are going, might not be long), and then for a few years after, too, until her bones begin to shatter, and little splinters fall all over the ground.
I'm getting tired of this.
I wish the train would come soon.
All rights reserved.
This was an excercise in characterization and establishing a voice, done for a creative writing class. I'm vary wary of such excercises, especially considering the prompt for this one was that it had to take place in a train station, but I like the way it turned out.