A Long-Winded Arrival and A Hasty Retreat

A very short story about split-second decisions, regret, and taking your time with things.


1. A Long-Winded Arrival and A Hasty Retreat

Cyra put down her luggage and stared at the train. It was a beast of a machine, a hunk of iron on wheels with small holes cut in the thick outer walls for windows. She’d be sitting in that for 4 days. The ticket in her hand fluttered in the breeze that passed through the station in uneven gusts, flapping back and forth.

A man came up behind her.

“Move along please, we need everyone on the train in the next five minutes.” he said. Cyra nodded and took up her suitcase. It was time to go.

Everyone, at some point, has to pick up their suitcase and get onto the train. You can’t just stare at it, admiring it or not and expecting something to happen, holding your ticket and willing yourself forward. A long-winded arrival.

The cab she took was completely empty, dark and cold. Cyra sat down on the seat and put her suitcase underneath it. It was very cold.

The train will be leaving soon, everyone please get on and store away your baggage.

She pulled her suitcase back onto her lap, opened it, and brought out a slim, metal square. Lifting up the lid of the laptop and moving the luggage back under the seat, Cyra typed into her web browser ‘destinations.’

Sometimes, it’s nice to know where you’re going to, but other times, just getting on the train and sitting there for a while, and getting off at an unknown station in an unknown place can be just as fun.

There has been a slight delay, but we will be leaving shortly.

Cyra sighed and closed the document on her laptop. She closed the lid and strained her eyes upwards to try and get a peep out of the high, tiny window. She could see nothing but the shadowy silhouettes of birds flying past. There was no glass in it, so a cold breeze blew in and goosebumps lifted on Cyra’s skin. She rubbed her arms.

We apologise for the delay, we are afraid that the train won’t be leaving for another half an hour due to circumstances beyond our control. We thank you for your patience and we will hopefully be leaving by then. Have a nice journey.

Cyra sighed.

There are delays. There are setbacks. Maybe you shouldn’t let them bring you down, make you get off the train and go home. Just wait, train your patience, find something to occupy yourself. The likely outcome is that you’ll end up where you want to be. Or otherwise, where you need to be.

Her phone beeped. Cyra looked at the bright screen, rubbed her eyes and read.

‘Reid needs your help. Please come home.’

She pushed the lock button. No.

Decisions are terrifying. There’s almost no way to know which one is the right one. Gut instinct can help. Other people can help. Facts can help. But remember, the selfish choice isn’t always the wrong one.

There was another beep.

‘Come on. Please. We can’t. We can’t do it. It would take too long to tell you how much it would mean to me. Reid needs you. I need you.’

Cyra wiped her eyes, stopping the tears from falling any further. She put her phone back into her coat pocket and stood up. The cold floor burned her feet. There were too many things buzzing around in her brain to make her think straight, too many things to help her make her decision, but she knew something, which she replayed again and again in her head as she leapt off of the train.

‘I have to go home. I have to go home. I have to go home.’

Things happen and things don’t happen. People make stupid decisions. People make decisions that are so right and fair that it’s almost unbelievable. People leave and people return, and one thing is for certain. People are hypocrites.

A hasty retreat?

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