Bo-reum Lee

Train Tracks

My Mom and Dad were out, leaving me alone with my grandmother. I was bored. My own parents ditched me to have fun by themselves! Feeling slightly adventurous and daring, I tiptoed toward the door and crept out. Luckily my grandmother didn’t notice, even when I accidentally slammed the door behind me. Immediately, I ran down to the elevator, where I faced another small girl like me who had a quizzical expression when she saw me bounce all around with giddiness. As soon as we landed on the main level, I raced out into the crowded streets, and reached my destination within minutes. I entered the playground happily. But after twirling on the slides, flying on the swings, and attempting to climb the towering jungle gym many times, I decided to go on the trail that accompanied the playground. I had gone there several times with my parents, and I loved it. The trail had water fountains, gardens, real trains speeding by.

I ran up the steps to the entrance in an adrenaline rush and began to walk along the path. There weren’t many people walking today, so fortunately I encountered no neighbors. I took a breath of air, filled with the aroma of luscious pink blossoms from the trees. I skipped merrily and only paused to take a long drink of clear mountain water. It felt cool and deliciously satisfying. Bluebirds were singing sweetly and squirrels chattered as I skipped by, and at last I reached the train tracks.

No trains were present, and everything was deathly silent. There were four tracks, designed for two trains to run by in opposite directions. There was a small patch of dirt in the middle, dividing the tracks. I looked at a group of weeds struggling to grow on the divider. Even the weeds seemed peaceful at this moment, because there wasn’t any fear of trains coming by to squish them. I then realized that this was my chance to cross to the other side. I had gotten this far, and so I was determined to finish the walk. Vaguely remembering my parents’ warnings about crossing at the right time, I sprinted toward the divider and stopped. I never felt so free and independent before! Here I was, crossing a dangerous place all by myself! As I jumped around, I tripped suddenly on a big rock I did not spot until now. Still feeling happy however, I struggled to lift myself up, but saw that the rock had pierced my right leg with its sharp edge. I tried hard not to cry, but just at that moment, I heard loud whistling noises and caught sight of trains in the distance.

Despite the fact that two trains were charging right at me, my brain simply wouldn’t function. My whole body was paralyzed with fear. No one could help me! The trains kept coming, closer, like two huge angry bulls getting ready to bash their horns into a victim. The trains seemed abnormally large, not like any of the friendly, talking trains I saw on T.V. The sun shone brightly, reflecting a metallic blue color on the sides of the trains and blinding my vision.

In a desperate frenzy, I pulled my leg towards me and curled myself into a tight ball. Instantly I felt continuous jabs of pain and saw dirt-covered pebbles fly wildly with the accelerated wind. Some of the tiny pebbles entered my eyes, and so I immediately closed them to block away the pain. Before I did so however, I caught sight of two trains heading straight in my direction. Was I going to die? There was no time to run, let alone scream. My ears screamed with agony as the trains approached me, and the hissing noises were intensely deafening. My arms were getting scratched, but I could do nothing to make it stop hurting. “Mom!” I cried into the air, somehow hoping she could help me against this frightening situation. Uncertain that it was all over, I opened my eyes slightly and saw that I was alive, but everything hurt very badly. The trains were now gone, leaving piles of dust behind. The place of the train tracks once again resumed its deathly silence.

Then, out of nowhere, a hand rested on my shoulder. I turned around and saw my parents, with worried yet grateful expressions on their faces. Dad lifted me up. My arms were badly cut; my ears felt deafened, and I was still terrified. But my parents were there to comfort me, even though I had sneaked out to play by myself. They asked me if I was all right, and why I had to take the walk by myself. I was only five, after all. So I explained to my parents that I just wanted to have an adventure and didn’t do it to be troublesome. And I did, in a way, but at a cost. That train crash taught me to stay at home and be more obedient. Sure enough, from then on I always looked at both sides of the street before crossing, and never failed to hold another person’s hand for safety. But, the one thing I didn’t tell my parents was that I learned to help myself. Even though I did something wrong, I was able to save myself in a terrifying situation, and that was when I realized that there were times when no one was there to help me but myself.

That was all many years ago. When I went back to the trail, what were once train tracks were completely replaced by the wild, leaving no memories of a young girl who once tried to pass on her own.


Copyright 2002-2007 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2007 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.