Staying on Track


1. One

I’ve always been fascinated by trains – Yes, it’s kind of odd, but that’s beside the point – I would always watch in awe as the trains would speed in from pitch black tunnels, their lights illuminating the station and the track up ahead.

My fascination wasn’t necessarily about the trains, as much as where they went, the black tunnels they would zoom into once they’d collected their passengers. Id wonder where they went when I wasn’t on them, whether they’d sit in the black tubes of darkness of zoom off into a black tunnel of oblivion.

When I was eight I was waiting for the train to pull in, I was heading to the city with my parents and had eaten quite a few packets of lollies while waiting for the train to arrive, which had given me a sudden burst of excitement and courage, (not to mention the severe amount of hyperactivity that sent me jumping around the platform). Mum had warned me multiple times “Peter, when we are at the station we sit calmly. Wouldn’t it be quite a shame if someone knocked you over the edge of the platform.” In which then she’d tell me to sit down, and then pass me another gummy worm.

Now, as much as this should have scared me, it didn’t. The Thought of getting run over once I'd fallen off didn't cross my mind as much as the possibility of all the attention I'd get if I did have to get rescued. So that’s pretty much what I did, I got out of my seat when neither mum nor dad was looking and walked over to the yellow warning tape.

You know when you’re younger and you think that nothing's going to fall or that you can't actually walk somewhere that says do not enter. Or that you can't drop your mum’s $200 phone into the pool, because it will levitate back up to you just before it falls in the water (trust me, it doesn’t). Well that's exactly what I thought about the yellow tape. Like maybe there was an invisible wall just before the edge of the platform that would stop you from going any further when there was no train to board.

So when suddenly my toe hit the other side of the tape, everything seemed wrong. Like somehow my whole life had been a lie. And so then had I thought to myself, ‘Well maybe the barrier is on the edge of the platform, right on the tracks. So I took another step, this one causing my toes to hang from the edge of the platform. Suddenly at the beginning of the close off to the tunnel I could see the train start to pull in, lights vibrant and blinding. I leaned in slightly, something of which my 8 year old body seemed to have a challenge with as I lost my balance slightly, but thankfully quickly regained it.

So by now I was awestruck by the train, the fact that there was no ‘invisible barrier’ and I couldn’t stop fidgeting from the two packets of gummy worms I had consumed. So I don’t think any of that was helping as I realized how close the train actually was. I tried to jump back but instead I kind tumbled forward slightly and then backwards and landed on my bottom with my legs directly in front of me hanging over the edge of the platform.

Now once again my small eight year old mind betrayed me by thinking ‘Oh! What a great chance to test the invisible barrier theory one final time! I’ll just keep my legs here, and if they get hit by the train I’ll know for sure what’s going on here!’ Fortunately my father had noticed my disappearance from the seat beside him and had spotted my lying, waiting for the train to hit my legs – How nobody else noticed me is still a mystery to this day- he jumped up, being the fatherly hero I saw him as seven years ago, grabbed me from the floor just in time for the train to miss my legs by seconds.

While the theory I had as an eight year old seemed great to my parents to tell to all family friends, relatives and even maybe a few of my girlfriends and mates. To me as a seventeen year old boy it was quite the opposite.

Luckily Dale and his family were able to sit and listen to the train story each dinner or event our families attended together, automatically making him my best friend. We spend our days playing video games and watching ridiculous YouTube videos.

He thought himself funny, Dale, always cracking jokes about the train incident and making funny nicknames for me. Unfortunately for me my surname – Thomastin - has certain similarities to the great TV show that I adored as a child ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ and so Dale took it upon himself to grant me with the nickname ‘Triple-T-E’ obviously it wasn’t used much, but once Billy Warameer heard Dale say it at a Starbucks.

Once he’d worked out what it stood for and the whole of year 9 called me it for a term, variations of the nicknames including ‘Triple-T’, ‘Thomas’, ‘Tankies’ and the most used one ‘The guy who nearly got hit by a train’.

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