Martin watched the apple core sail high into the air before landing with a satisfying plop in the water.  He lay on his back, basking in the warm afternoon sun and listening to the sounds of classic rock music escaping from the transistor radio.  He listened to the girls chatting as they finished the last bits of the picnic lunch.  Talk of college dominated the conversation, with the three teens set to begin their university education in the fall.

“Aw, girls, can’t we talk about something other than college, college, college?  It will be time to hit the books before long.”

“Sorry, Marty,” chirped Samantha.  “We’re just so excited.  Imagine all the fun we’ll have!  Parties, concerts, football games …”

“Not to mention classes,” replied.  “You are planning to attend the occasional class, right, Sam?”

“Of course,” she giggled.  “Education comes first.”

“Well, maybe not first,” chimed in Michelle.  “Partying is pretty important.  But it’s definitely a solid number two.”

“You girls need to make sure that you put some energy into your coursework so that you don’t flunk out first semester.”

“Yes, mother,” they replied in chorus, laughing at Martin’s expense.

Martin began to utter a sharp retort but caught himself just in time.  It was best not to engage in a battle of wits with these girls.  They could very effectively tag-team with each other and make mincemeat of him with their insults.  Better to just change the subject and move on.

“You think we can catch the Cardinals game up here?” he asked.

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” replied Michelle.  “We’re so far away from civilization that you could probably pick up Canadian stations.”

Martin began to fiddle with the dial on the old radio.  After a minute, he caught the strains of a baseball game – but it was the Cubs game.  After another moment of fiddling with the dial and he could faintly hear the Cardinals game.  Albert Pujols had drawn yet another walk, bringing Matt Holliday to the plate.

“C’mon, Happy,” shouted Samantha.  “Park it in Big Mac Land.”

They were engrossed in the game and didn’t hear the oncoming vehicle.

“Oh, shit,” yelled Michelle.  “TRAIN!”

Martin’s heart caught in his throat.  He could see the locomotive in the distance, moving toward them.  They jumped to their feet and began to run across the trestle toward the safety of the opposite side of the river.

When Martin reached the other side, he turned back and saw Michelle quickly approaching and Samantha lagging behind.  He watched the train for a moment and calculated the closing speed.  It would be a close race, but it seemed that the train was going to beat Samantha to the other side.

“Jump, Sam, jump!” he yelled.

Samantha ignored his advice and continued to sprint toward the shore, with the beastly train in her wake.  It was a thirty foot drop to the water below, and she couldn’t swim.  If she could just dig down for an extra bit of speed, she could get to the other side.  Sam’s adrenaline gave her a burst of speed, and the locomotive had begun to slow ever so slightly as the engineer saw her and applied the brakes.

Martin and Michelle held their breath for a long minute.  Yes, it definitely seemed that Samantha could beat the train to the other side.  Then it happened.  Sam stumbled slightly.  She quickly regained her balance and continued her race toward the shore.  The stumble had cost her a precious couple of seconds.  A moment later, the train smashed into her and flung her lifeless body off the trestle and into the muddy river below.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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