Past Imperfect

A piece of flash fiction published in Trunk Vol 2: Blood in November 2012.

I wanted to reverse.

I’d seen that face before. Eyes wide, staring into mine. Begging. Daring. Why like that? I was pulling the emergency brake. Pressing the horn. Why the eyes? He knew I couldn’t idle at the station. Knew I wouldn’t stop in time.

He was standing on a ledge that juts out from the pedestrian bridge. I thought the railways were getting rid of those. Makes it too easy. There’s cyclone fencing on suspension bridges and CCTV cameras on cliffs, but the railways’ idea of community service is to give jumpers a comfy ledge to leap off.

He was stretching his arms out either side, tightrope-walker-tight to stay balanced, like he didn’t want to fall by accident. Like he was forever waiting just for me. Patient. Focused. Staring straight into my driver’s cab looking like Jesus on Mount Calvary.

I was pressing the horn again and again, but didn’t hear a thing.

He’d wanted me because I had the momentum he needs. Chosen my express as a sure bet. Picked me, and now we are we.

He kept his arms splayed as he dived onto the tracks. Blood coating my tongue as I bite hard on my cheek. The train pushing on against the brake. Going under the bridge and over him, stopping five hundred metres later, five hundred metres too late.

Yanking the cab door open, I throw up on the tracks. Tuna mornay.  I tell myself: don’t look back. This time, wait in the cab. Call emergency services. Lie to the passengers.

I used to like driving through this station, it’s how they used to be––old school suburban with flower gardens and wooden benches.

I climb out of the cab. Slide jelly-legged down the stepladder. Run past the carriages, past the windows of snub-nosed passengers, back to the bridge.

There’s nothing on the track.  No one. No body there.

 

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