Leaving, short fiction by Kathy Prokhovnik

There’s no-one else waiting at the railway station. Just me on the bench in the humid night, and some small black beetles that thud into the station windows. Fluorescent lights suck the colour from the empty platform. A bell rings intermittently down the line, like the bell at a railway crossing, except there is no railway crossing. Here, you drive over the line on a bridge, then make a sharp turn left to the station. 

A dog barks. There are cones of light under the streetlights on the town side of the tracks. It’s like a painting of a small country town with all the elements in place. I have a burst of nostalgia for the passing of summer. I don’t even like summer, but now I remember summer nights as times of freedom and energy, of joy at the end of a hot day. I remember summer nights when we sat on the verandah, listening to the frogs.

The train bursts around the corner and catches me up. I’m propelled through the countryside, a tube of dull light whisking past dark paddocks and small glimmers in distant windows. Travellers from further up the line drowse, their legs obstructing the corridor. At Central we’re cast out, sleepy, clutching pillows. 

The night is thick and heavy, the air full of smoke from fires that ring the city – burning off on the hottest April day in history. 

I catch a train to Newtown where a busker sings deep and smooth in the shadow of the station.

A homeless woman sits hunched on the steps of the church, looking out into the uncertainty of the night. 

A young teenager talks into her phone, her voice rising indignantly. ‘It’s not! It’s not late.’

Women in a bar laugh and throw their heads back, their long bare legs stretched out and their arms filling the space as the music pumps louder. 

Even though the thick air catches in my throat and sits in my lungs, I linger on that greasy street, the cars heaving by, and breathe in the smoke and exhaust fumes and feel the night heavy on my arms, and look at the people who stroll and rush and stagger and I enjoy feeling the flow of life in all its hurry and purpose. All held together by the warm, sticky air, the darkness that isn’t quite dark, in the thick pulsing night. 

Fiction-Kathy-Prokhovnik.

Kathy’s day job is editing and technical writing, but she also has a novel in the bottom drawer and a narrative non-fiction social history of Sydney emerging. She lives between Sydney and her farm at Gloucester. She blogs at http://kathyprokhovnik.com/ about the highs and lows of gardening.

About the contributor

Related Articles

Who By Wild Beast, short fiction by By Carolyn Geduld

Carolyn Geduld’s novel ‘Take Me Out The Back’ is due from Black Rose Writers in 2020

Autumn Leaves, short fiction by Pippa Slattery

Pippa Slattery’s story Rag Doll was shortlisted for the Kanturk International Arts Festival.

The Closest Thing to Home. Fiction Shinjini Dey

Shinjini Dey has been published in Efiction and Cactus Heart Press.

More Like This

Lemons- Carla Scarano D’Antonio

On Thursday I went to the supermarket and did my usual round: salad, fruit, vegetables. While I was selecting the oranges a net bag...

In the Buried Mansion Short Fiction by Oz Hardwick

Flash fiction that could only have been written by a poet. Suspend belief and just enjoy.

Too Much. Short Fiction by Jessica Ciosek

Jessica Ciosek attended Michigan State University where she earned a BA in Marketing and promptly found her passion for fiction writing eight months after graduation.

Man with a Camera, short fiction by David McVey

David McVey lectures in Communication at New College Lanarkshire. He is widely published with over 120 short stories in journals and magazines.

Mittens for Nasma by Tracy Gaughan

Tracy Gaughan presents the popular arts show ‘WestWords’ on Ireland’s Community Radio Network