Eight and Sand

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

“It really is always such lovely weather here,” Alice remarked. 


It was perhaps the hundredth time she had commented so. Jack never minded. With the endless arrivals and departures around them, he liked the reminder that it wasn’t wrong of him to enjoy staying in this place. It wasn’t exactly the Grand Central Station of his boyhood memories, but even so... 


“Of course. When I was young and it was bright out like this, I wished for it to last forever. It was always so beautiful.” Jack laughed, playing with the brim of his hat in slight embarrassment. “Listen to me, I sound like a grandmother, don’t I?”


“It’s nice.” Alice was smiling. This was not unusual, but Jack sensed something new about it today. “It’s good that you remember something so clear, even now.”


“Come on now, I’m not a day over thirty. Not really.”


“I wonder a lot whether I ended up having grandchildren. I’d have liked some to talk to like that. I barely had any time with my daughter to — “


“Say!” Jack hastily cut her off. He pointed over her shoulder to the several people who, without their noticing, had gathered together and were running in a group for one of the gates. Its time was set for twelve. “Where d’you suppose they’re going?”


The impending departure only made her smile even more unsettling. “Maybe right back out into the city. The real one.”


“What, all of them?”


“Well, I don’t know about that.”


Exactly. Who says they’ll even end up in the same place, even if they do leave by the same train?”


“Scattered like dandelion puffs, all over the world.”


“Doesn’t that scare you?”


“Yes. But I want to go back and see new places. After all, when it’s been sunny for so long, you start wishing for some rain.” She sighed. “It’s been fun, Jack. But I think now’s the time I go find some.”


If Jack still had a heartbeat, that would have stopped it. After all the time they’d only had each other here, she was just going to...!


“Come with me?”


His legs wouldn’t move. “I..I can’t. Please wait for me.”


“I don’t think I can anymore. But I hope to see you in the next life anyway. Maybe we’ll be siblings.”


“Or maybe I’ll be your grandchild.”


That got a rare laugh out of her. “Oh, Jack. Don’t wait that long to move on, for your own sake.”


Jack was unable to look away as she disappeared into the gate with the rest. He imagined her boarding the train, sitting down, being carried away into the dark. Part of him yearned to race after her. The rest of him looked around at the bright gold station interior that never wore down, the endless sunlight streaming from the windows, his own body that would never be hurt again, so long as he stayed here, and couldn’t. Not yet.


“Be safe, Alice,” he murmured.


The clock struck twelve.


Submitted: April 29, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Shannon Brady. All rights reserved.

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