Yay, first flash fiction post in a while. I had the idea for this scene on a train in Wellington, watching a young conductor interact with some local schoolkids. I’ve got some other related ideas, so this may turn into something longer eventually:
“And what are you kids talking about?” he said, playfully feigning a smack upside one boy’s head, intentionally catching only mussed-up tresses of hair.
“Oi, watch it, Kevin, don’t get cocky now!” the kid replied, throwing a couple of fake punches in his direction.
“I was just telling them what I’ll do once I’m head boy!” another boy said.
“You’re going for head boy? Didn’t think you were the type,” Kevin said,
“Course he’s the type!” someone else offered. “Can’t get brown-nosier than head boy.”
A round of gentle ribbing broke out among the little group of boys. Kevin plopped down on a seat nearby and mostly just listened. It was weird to think only three years ago he’d been just like them, riding this same train to and from school every day in the same uniform. Now he rode it several times a day, in a different uniform; the conductor’s uniform, complete with vest and cap. He felt very different from them and yet he felt just the same, which was why it was so easy to make time pass on slow afternoons by chatting along with them. It didn’t hurt that he knew many of them from before: younger siblings of old school mate’s of his, or cousins or neighbors.
When the train stopped he got up to do his ticket-checking round, then came back to the same seat. The conversation had moved on to a girl one of the boys liked, and whether he should ask her out and how. This was a topic of much contention and when asked about it, Kevin looked away from the expectant faces of the younger boys and mumbled something about being yourself. Goodness knew he wasn’t one to give instructions on romantic relationships, with his track record.
Station by station the boys got off the train. By the time they hit the second to last stop, the last one before arriving in the city proper, only one boy was left: Bobby Brenham, a scrawny 13-year-old with sandy hair who was always drumming on something when he wasn’t talking. Left alone without his friends, he’d taken to smacking around an empty soda-bottle and managed to get a surprisingly nice sound out of it.
As the trained rolled out of the station, Kevin left him drumming in his seat to check ticket. It wasn’t until he reached the end station that he realized he never saw Bobby get off the train. It wasn’t until the following evening that he realized he had been the last person to see Bobby before he disappeared.
It’s a bit unpolished because I’m very tired and need to go to sleep, but there you are! Good night, lovelies!
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