Having been a writer for as long as I can remember, I have an arsenal of stories written throughout the years. Looking back on those stories is always fun, both as a reflection of where I was at the time and how far my writing has come. I figured, why not share some of those stories here. They aren’t doing anyone any good locked away in boxes and hard drives.
Weekend Flashback #1 – The Platform (2007)
This piece was written during a creative writing class in college as a personal memoir. The summer before I started college, I spent 10 days in France with my high school French Club and this story recalls an few moments of the hassle and drama of traveling in a large group on public transportation. Enjoy!
For being in such an exciting place, our train car was awfully quiet. I suppose it had to do with everyone being so exhausted—we had just spent three days walking around Paris and another day exploring the Valley of the Kings. But still, as I looked out the window, tired as I was, and watched the French country side go speeding by, I found it to be simply spectacular. Little villages and towns dotted the fields and meadows, and from time to time a castle popped up on the horizon. I could have watched it for hours had the swaying of the train and the rush of the landscape not made me train-sick.
Eduardo, our tour guide, stood up all of the sudden and hurried back to where Mr. and Mrs. Chapman sat looking over a map of France. After a few minutes of intense conversation, he centered himself in the middle of the car.
“Ladies!” he yelled, intentionally loud to wake up those who were sleeping. “Ladies, wake up; pay attention.” Several girls groaned, wiping sleep from their eyes.
“We may have a problem.”
He had our attention.
“I have just realized that we only have ten minutes between trains.” His fingers flickered the number ten as he spoke. “Frankly, this many people and all of your luggage make it a stretch.” Everyone laughed a little. Between twenty-one people, we had a lot of luggage. “Now, add into the mix that we may have to change platforms! Which means probably two flights of stairs with our luggage in ten minutes not to mention getting all of you girls and your luggage off this train and onto the next one.” Speaking rapidly, Eduardo had to stop and take a breath. “So that means I need everyone to pay attention.”
From there he went into a detailed explanation of how we were to effectively disembark the train. I listened intently with everyone else, thinking to myself that it would really suck to miss the next train because that meant we would miss the one after that and our entire day would be shot. When Eduardo finished, the car erupted in chatter that didn’t break until he stood up again, ten minutes from the train station.
So, we put our plan into action. Everyone filed boisterously into the aisle. For those of us whose bags didn’t weigh as much as a small whale, we pulled them quickly off the overhead luggage rack. The rest of them waited impatiently for Eduardo and Mr. Chapman to heave the suitcases to the floor. With our luggage in line to make a quick exit, we all played musical train seats and baggage, attempting to unite ourselves with our scattered gear—some of the girls squeezed their way down the narrow aisle, while others crowd surfed their bags down the line.
By the time everything was somewhat organized, we had pulled into the station. From either end of the car, Eduardo and Mr. Chapman literally chucked our bags out the doors onto the platform, barely giving us girls time to jump out without getting beamed by a flying suitcase.
On the platform, chaos erupted as Eduardo took off down the platform looking for the nearest attendant. Scrambling to grab our luggage we started to follow him, only to be told to go the other direction because, “We have to change platforms! Everyone follow me!”
Almost running, Eduardo fled down a flight of stairs, leaving us to follow awkwardly behind, suitcases flipping over off the wheels, skidding on the cement and bags bending their carriers in half with the weight of a thousand souvenirs. The underground passageway between platforms echoed deafeningly with the clank, clack, crash of our luggage sliding, rolling, bouncing down the stairs and up the other side.
Time progressed in slow motion as we emerged onto the next platform and raced after Eduardo to the correct car. “Go to both ends, load from both ends!” he hollered over the train station ruckus as steam billowed out from underneath the train. A TGV sped by on the opposite side of the platform, rushing everyone with a gust of wind and Eduardo started heaving luggage through the door, ushering whoever was next in line up after it so they half fell into the car, tripping over the bag in front of them. Gradually, the twenty-one of us spilled into the already partially filled locomotive, just as the conductor came over the intercom rambling in French that we had two minutes until departure.
Steam bellowed from beneath the train again, and the doors closed with a definite, airtight thud. We were still stumbling into our seats as it pulled away from the station and as the last of us sat down, Eduardo announced with triumph, “Eight minutes!”
We answered with a resounding, “Ugh.”