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Journey out of the darkness (short story)

Brigitte Neumann


The last night train glided out of the hall. The platform was empty, except for one man. He had lit himself a cigarette and stared at the train, whose red taillights diminished. "Not again, "Torben mumbled. A burning longing had driven him to this last train. He had hoped for a miracle that the images of the past would become a reality again.

They were pictures of Tina waving as she drove to her place of study. She who was always the first to storm out of the last car door when she arrived. Tina with her worn blue backpack on her back, in which she could stow so much. She who fell around his neck and burst out with her latest experiences. "You imagine," it had always begun.

Torben pulled the cigarette again, then he threw the stump onto the tracks. He glowed for a few seconds and faded away. The station clock showed five to twelve. An icy cold wind swept over the deserted platform. The smell of snow was in the air. The first flakes swirled ghostly in the neon light of the lanterns. Torben froze. The cold crept up his trouser legs and jacket sleeves and brought the horror pictures with him.
It was the pictures of that night almost a year ago. Here he had also stood at the platform and waited for the last train. He drove in on time, stopped and didn't let the passengers get out. Due to a technical breakdown, the doors remained locked. The lights of a freight train appeared behind the train. He raced into the last car with no brakes. Torben moaned. He lowered his head, stroking his right hand over his eyes. The power of these cruel images overcame him again and again, here at the scene of events, but also in the sleepless nights and on the speechless days. No one to talk to.

"No, no, no, no." beating his temples hard with every pulse. He went down the stairs and crossed the lit train station hall. A few punks protected themselves from the cold. Empty beer and schnapps bottles testified to a binge.

"Haste an Euro," slurped one of the young people dressed in black.

He ignored him and stepped outside the building.

The wind had weakened. The snow trickled in thick flakes onto the houses, the streets, the vehicles and the few people on the road.

Torben shrugged as he felt a touch of the elbow. Did the kid come after him?

"Quiet, you won't get a dime from me!"

"I don't want an euro," said a female voice from behind.

"Inga!" Torben turned around."You? How did you get here?"

The unexpected presence of his wife made him angry. He wanted to be left alone. Of all of them.

"I've been looking for you."

"You? What do you want from me?"

"I want us to talk again."

"Let me go. I don't want to talk to anyone. Not with you at all."

"Why not?"

"Why not?" He screamed. "That's what you're asking? Because you make it so easy for yourself."

Inga flinched, straightened up, wanted to answer, found no words. Torben looked at them, turned away and left. He couldn't bear that his wife had put away her daughter's loss much more and that her life lived on for a long time as if nothing had happened. For him this was the unthinkable - for all time. He sped up his steps. Inga followed him.

"Torben!" She screamed his name, grabbed his sleeve again, held him, pulled him back so that he stumbled, tumbled a few steps around and came to a halt right in front of her. Their eyes met. His grief, anger and pain looked into a mirror full of tears.

Was that Inga? The woman who has shown strength in every situation over the past few months and never showed weakness? His iron shell of sorrow and pain got ripped.
"Inga," he stammered, "you're crying?

He attracted her. Both had thick tears running down their cheeks. A crying fit shook her. As he wore off, Torben felt through the thick down jacket how thin and bony Inga had become, how she trembled, how she was snuggling up to him - and how he longed for her closeness, which he had fought off for so long. He kissed her, tasting the salt of tears and the snowflakes on her face.

"Let's go home, "he said. An untouched, bright blanket of snow lay on the dark path. Together they made the first trace and walked hand in hand towards the new day. 

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