Thursday, May 12, 2022

“The Difficulty of Disembarking” • by Carol Scheina

The day Arielle died in seat G-1 commuting home on the north-west train, Keith purchased a ticket for seat G-2. He spotted his wife’s transparent form gazing out the train window, wisps of curly hair floating around her forehead. “Arielle! You okay?”

“My head doesn’t hurt anymore, but I can’t disembark…”

Keith slipped next to her. “Brain aneurysm. Sudden. You died here, but we’ll stay together now.” He tried to stroke her hand, fingertips slipping through frigid air.

Arielle’s lips trembled as she attempted to smile.

Woven seat fabric rubbed against Keith’s back as he teleworked from G-2. Day after day, Arielle described the same rounded bridges and steepled churches rushing past.

He stopped disembarking, ate tepid soup and chewy chicken from the dining car. At night, he splashed bathroom sink water onto his face, then gazed at his wife before drifting off to sleep in G-2.

He made a quick hop off one morning, returning with a suitcase of clothes, a toothbrush, deodorant.

Arielle watched him slide on fuzzy slippers, her pale lips thin. “Keith, there’s a world beyond this train.”

“There’s no world without you.”

“There is. Go! See it!”

The train rattled as it rounded a turn. Brakes announced the next stop with a hiss.

“Where would I go?” Keith whispered.

“Everywhere. You can’t stop living because I’m not.” She tried to grasp his hand, cold moving across his knuckles. “Please. I want you to do this.”

“For you, Arielle.” How he wanted to kiss her, to feel her curls tickle his cheek. Instead, he disembarked at the station.

Keith spotted Arielle gazing back from seat G-1. When the train rumbled off, there was a blur of ghostly curls, then she was gone.

His heart still rode in G-2, but he walked forward.


Carol Scheina
is a deaf speculative fiction author
from the Northern Virginia region. Many of her stories were thought up while sitting in local traffic, resulting in tales that have appeared in Cossmass Infinities, Daily Science Fiction, Escape Pod, and other publications. You can find more of her work at