“Good evening,” says a low, smooth voice. I look up from the little screen to see a man in a neat business suit lounging on the seat beside me. I didn’t even hear him step onto the platform.
“Hey,” I say curtly. I really hope he’s not trying to hit on me.
“Catching the eleven o’clock?” he asks.
“Mhmm,” I grunt, turning back to my phone.
“Now, don’t be like that,” says the man. “The train’s fifteen minutes late, I was just hoping to make conversation while I wait.”
“I’m married,” I say. Without looking up, I raise my left hand, and wiggle the gold band with my thumb.
“That’s fine,” says the man, “I just want to talk.”
I sigh, and stare off into space, filled with darkness and tiny, flying bugs.
“The train’s really running fifteen minutes late?” I ask the man, turning to face him. He nods slowly and deliberately. I put my phone back in my purse and turn to face him.
“My name’s Lincoln,” he says, holding out a hand.
“Phoebe,” I reply, accepting the handshake. His hands are quite strong.
“So, what do you do, Phoebe?” he asks
“I work at the nursing home,” I say, pointing off where I’d come from.
“You’re a nurse?”
“Receptionist,” I correct him, “what about you?”
“I’m a murderer.”
I stare at him for a moment, before I burst out laughing.
“Don’t laugh at me,” he says slowly. I’m still grinning when I look at him, but when I see the cold stare on his face, my smile drops.
“You’re kidding right?”
I’m sure he’s just joking, but he stares at me so deeply, I almost can’t look away from his dark, brown eyes.
“Should I be scared?” I ask, playing his game.
“Well, that’s up to you.”
“Okay. What I meant to say is: ‘Are you going to kill me?’”
He raises his eyebrows, glances down at my feet, and slowly his eyes scan along my high heels, up my legs and along my body. The entire time, a shiver runs up my spine, almost as though he were following the tingling sensation with his eyes.
“No,” he says finally.
“Okay . . .” I say. I have no reason to believe what he’s saying, but I don’t find this particular joke funny anymore. “Why would you tell me you’re a murderer?”
“Because I’m an honest man.”
“Come on, seriously.” I scoff, “If you were a murderer, you wouldn’t just tell people. If you did that, you’d get found out. They’d tell people and you’d go to prison.”
“Why? Who are you going to tell?” he asks, smirking.
“Well, you know . . . the police!” I say, a little louder than I intended.
“And tell them what, exactly?”
I don’t answer. What can I say? It already sounds ridiculous. I stare at him a moment, but as the seconds tick onwards, the silence makes me feel smaller and smaller.
“If you’re a murderer . . . who have you killed?” I ask quietly, almost whispering.
The man shrugs casually.
“I don’t know their names.”
“Well, how many then?” I ask, emotion creeping into my voice.
He stares off into space for a moment. I feel my stomach sink as he starts to quietly count on his fingers. He suddenly clicks his fingers loudly, making me jump.
“Twenty-eight . . .” I mumble as the number sinks in. I feel sick.
“Well, it might be twenty-seven. One girl was pretty feisty, managed to kick my knife away. So I had to use my hands. Goodness, it was messy . . . she might’ve survived, but she wasn’t moving when–”
“Why are you telling me this!?” I shriek. He looks at me, and frowns.
“Isn’t it obvious?” he asks, staring back at me with those dark eyes.
“No,” I whimper. He sighs heavily.
“I’m invisible, Phoebe. I could scream and kick and punch, and nobody would look at me twice. No matter what I do, I don’t exist. Even if I take someone’s life and throw it away, it doesn’t even matter. Even though I can prove that I am stronger, smarter and faster than the people I dispose of . . . nothing changes. Because I can’t tell a soul and it cuts me deep. Deeper than I’ve ever cut anyone before.”
In the distance, I can hear the train coming. I suddenly gasp for breath. Lincoln glances at the train’s headlights in the distance, then back to me.
“Until now, nobody has ever seen who I really am. I want to thank you for that.”
Suddenly, he stands up, grabbing my arm as he lifts me to my feet.
“I guess it’s time to die, now. I’m so sorry, Phoebe,” he says. Lincoln leans towards me, and I feel my whole body tense as he leans his face towards mine. He kisses my cheek and whispers to me: “Close your eyes. I don’t want you to see this.”
I squeeze my eyes shut. I can hear the train coming closer!
In an explosion of sound, I feel the train rush past. When I finally open my eyes, I’m alone on the platform. Oh, God . . .
Someone raises the alarm. I see a transport officer running toward me.
“Holy hell! Are you alright, ma’am?”
I’m not. I can’t even speak. I can barely believe what just happened, how could anyone else? I’m so alone. I almost feel invisible.
– – –
This story was written for the 6th Annual Junior Authors Short Story Writing Contest, which is a writing competition hosted by Laura Thomas at her website.
If you're a writer, and between the ages of 9 & 21 years old, I implore you to give this a go and flex your writing muscles. You need merely write a story in under 1,000 words and submit it before the Deadline of June 30, 2013.
All content, genre and themes are allowed, the only limit is your imagination. Check out the Rules and how to Enter at LauraThomasCommunications.com/JuniorAuthorsContest/.
And, since you'll be competing with me . . . GAME ON!