The sun beat down hard on Annie’s head and shoulders as she ran. It was already 2:14 when she arrived at the substation and hurtled herself down the crowded steps, apologizing as she went. Two minutes until the the train left. The line to run her ticket was agonizingly slow. I’m never going to make it.
Down the escalator to the boarding ramp she pushed, and when she reached the bottom… Oh God, Annie! You’re so stupid! She pounded the side of her temple with her open palm. The train hadn’t left yet, but she’d run down the escalator to the westbound trains!
She walked slowly to the edge of the platform in dismay, panting heavily, dripping with sweat. There was no way she could make it back upstairs, across the terminal, and down the other side in time. Her fiancé was seated alone. She could see him in the window, impatiently checking his watch, and watching the door to the other platform. Stephen was going to be so mad at her.
This was not going at all how Annie had planned it. Her thoughts shifted to the little purple box in her purse. She was almost three weeks late now. It was because she’d passed a pharmacy on the way to the station that she was about to miss her train. What if it comes back positive? What will Stephen say? God, what will Daddy say? She had to take the test before they left for the weekend though.
Stephen turned his head her way and saw her. He shrugged at her through the window in exasperation. Annie shrugged back shaking her head helplessly. Stephen glanced at his watch again and then jumped from his seat. He went to the door on the wrong side of the car and pulled it open. An alarm immediately started dinging like a sale alert in a department store.
“Come on,” Stephen yelled.
Oh my God, am I nuts? Annie sized up the jump. It was one she should make easily. She took a few steps back, ran and jumped for the door. As soon as she pushed off of the platform she realized her legs were too tired from running. She didn’t have the strength she needed. One foot hit the train and she caught the door with one hand, falling backward and barely hanging on outside over the other track.
The unmistakeable hum of a westbound train in the tunnel grew louder and louder as it arrived. Annie turned to look and saw the train coming. She didn’t have the strength to pull herself up with one hand, and she looked frantically back up at Stephen.
“Stephen!” she shrieked.
Stephen just stood there holding the door in paralyzed shock as if he hadn’t really expected her to jump. A large dark hand shot from nowhere and grabbed her wrist. A strong arm pulled her safely through the door just as the westbound train came rushing into the station behind her. Stephen let go of the door. It slid shut and the annoying alarm stopped dinging.
Annie stood shaking in the safety of the car. The doors closed, the train lurched and they were on their way. Her hair was a wreck. Sweat was dripping down the tangled strands and she could taste a salty droplet that fell to her lip.
Stephen didn’t seem to mind. He leaned forward for his accustomed kiss. Annie’s lips began trembling with the rest of her and she pulled away from him. The little purple box in her purse suddenly carried a terrifying fate.
“You were going to let me die, Stephen!” she choked.
© 2011 Anne Schilde