Amazing Kids! Magazine

Never-ending Trip to the Future

By Anthony Petranilli, age 16, Denver, CO


Once again, my mom and I decided to visit our relatives in Iowa. That is to say, mama decided so, and I had nothing to say against it, preferring others to decide for me. Finally, we reached our car despite the stifling heat when I began to regret we did not choose a more expensive, but comfortable transport. The whole day I was lying on the comfortable couch in the compartment and thinking about how not to spoil my life even more. My results in college were not the worst, but I might have been able to do better in my classes. At the same time, I knew good grades were not enough to succeed in this life. My spineless mind had always stopped me when there was only one step to a complete triumph or failure. All my life I was so afraid to lose, that it prevented me from winning too. With these pessimistic thoughts in my head, I started to realize that I was falling into the land of Nod.

I got up quickly, as usual, in the morning. Mama made some sandwiches and I ate them, before deciding to wash up and walk to the toilet at the end of the car. When I opened the door, in the window I saw a black-haired girl in the enclosed platform, sitting on the edge. I opened the door to the platform, trying to ask her why she sat there, but when she looked at me, she jumped under the wheels! I felt my eyes widen and my heart skip a beat. Why had she done that? Did I scare her? I ran to our compartment to find Mama reading another meaningless detective novel.

“There is…was a girl, and she…she…jumped under the wheels! She is dead!” I cried, hardly being able to pronounce everything clearly and suffocating because of what I just saw. The scene played over and over in my head: Pause, rewind, and play. Pause, rewind, and play.

“Once again, and slower, Winston,” Mama talked as if I told her about such things every day.

“A girl sat on the enclosed platform and jumped under the wheels. She is surely dead now,” I was surprised how calmly I said it.

“Good. You may ask the conductor about it,” Mama sighed in the same indifferent manner.

I was too shocked to say something else to her, but I listened to her advice and found the conductor who spoke in the same bored tone as Mama: “Boy, you know you may have serious problems for telling such kind of lie. There is no black-haired girl in this train at all, so go now to your compartment and don’t disturb me.” I could hardly believe my ears. What a dirty indifferent and cruel monster, I thought. I could not remember how I spent the rest of that dreadful day, but I could not sleep until 3 or 5 am, until my mind surrendered to the natural needs of my body.

The next morning, I got up early as usual.

“Have we arrived already?” I asked yawning.

“What? We arrive tomorrow, we just took the train yesterday,” Mama looked indifferent as usual.

“But…” my voice broke off. I started to realize that something was wrong with this train. My unconcerned mother behaved quite differently. There were too many strange things in this place. When I asked our conductor about the arrival time, he told me the same, and I began to think that it was all some kind of hallucination about that girl. Until…

“Winston? Right?” that same girl looked at me with her large green eyes. She looked more alive than she should be after falling under wheels. “I am Tina.”
At first, my words failed me. Just yesterday, I had seen this girl die and now she was standing right in front on me, perfectly in one piece. “Yes, but how?” I could not make up a better question.

“Quite simple – we are stuck here forever. Just accept the situation – this train will never arrive. I spent almost two years here. Yesterday, I tried to change something and jumped under the wheels, but it is all the same,” she replied sadly.

Being sure that something was wrong with my mind, I silently went away and laid on the coach, trying to sleep.

I was not surprised when I saw my mother was not going to prepare our luggage and found that we’d arrive tomorrow, even though it was already the 4th of August, and we departed on the 1st. I began to spend a lot of my time with Tina and she told me a lot about this strange train and herself. She dreamt about becoming an artist and even showed me her pictures.

“Your pictures, they are amazingly beautiful,” I was in awe of her skills.

“You’re just a flatterer, I am not talented enough for arts school… Maybe it is my destiny to spend all my life here. And besides, I wasted my days before, so being on this never-ending train ride is no different, really.”

At that moment, I had a sense of déjà vu as if she talked about my life. I felt that we had a lot of common character traits. We spent around two weeks talking about various things and spending time became much more pleasant. People around us still waited for the arrival the next day and soon I stopped to pay any attention to it. However, Tina’s words from that conversation made me consider my own life. I realize I really did waste my days and instead of changing something, I let it all fly by. I was always afraid to come and make friends with a girl because I was afraid that she already had someone else…what a blind fool I was! A hammer of enlightenment struck on my head and I rushed to Tina, who was sitting on the couch and watching the ceiling dreamily.

“I like you, Tina, and… and… you are the most wonderful girl I’ve ever met,” I blurted out these words so fast that it surprised me as much as it surprised Tina.

For a second, she stared at me with her green eyes and all the traces of worry and sorrow of being on this train forever disappeared from her face.

“And I like you.”

We locked eyes and smiled, and for the first, I thought, maybe it would be okay if we were on this never-ending trip to the future, as long as we had each other.

Suddenly, an announcement broke the silence: “Dear passengers! The train has arrived in Iowa City, please do not forget your luggage before leaving the car…” But before the announcement ended, Tina and I burst into laughter – the first time any of us had laughed in a long time.