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  • Writer's pictureMaya Tian

In Between

Style: Prose Fiction

Writer's Statement: I just really like writing about trains...and boats... and planes. I also really like writing sad pieces, with happier endings.

August came as it always did, bleeding sticky heat from the window. It seems the curtains found a way to pry themselves open at night, because it always is the sunlight that wakes you.

It's a nicer way to start the day than the storm of windshield glass and screeching metal that left a girl in between hospital walls. You didn’t read anything beyond just the headline, but you thought about it on your trip to work and your trip back.

You’ve always done an awful amount of thinking in cars. a ‘sad man’s inner monologue’ is what your college roommate would call it when you two would carpool. It was easy to think while going from place to place; it still hurt, but it was easier. 

You had a theory that the places in between are the most tender. Between home and work, between adolescence and adulthood, between your eyebrows where she would kiss you.

At night, through the window, you counted the gaps in the railroad tracks (the trains would pass through sometimes, and the noise would keep the rent low). If it’s the places in between things that are the most tender, maybe you were trying to convince yourself that there is an exception between the train and the tracks, and that if you found yourself in front of the long reaching headlights, you would not move, and your bones would stop aching. 

She called you sweet, but she must have found drugs that sang sweeter because at some point you never heard from her beyond her half lucid state before you fell between her fingers, and you never saw her again.

You did enough thinking for two, and she did enough laughing, stumbling over rails, and not looking both ways before crossing streets. I think you’re right, I’m not quite here nor there, just in between places. That's where it hurts, in the inbetweens.

There was a text message that you didn’t remember receiving before you left. But then again, you also didn’t remember turning off the AC in the car, but your shirt stuck to your back from sweat, and you weren’t driving home. 

It hurt, and waiting to face a train in the night is a bit like waiting at a crosswalk where the light never changes. Looking out a window has never done good for anyone, but sometimes looking is the same as wanting, and you are not the only one who wants.

She balanced herself carefully on the railroad sleepers, her back against the world and you. You walked closer. 

“It’s okay. There’s no train today.” She told you.

It wasn’t okay, but her breath smelled sober, and her eyes weren’t lidded. You wanted to tell her you knew about the trains, that if she didn’t move, you couldn’t either. The trains weren’t coming, but if they were. 

“Look at me,” you say, because sometimes looking is the same as wanting. “You need to move.”

The trains weren’t coming, but god, if they ever did.


She hugged you. Her feet left the railway sleepers, and the being between things always did leave you vulnerable, but maybe it was okay to be just a terrible bleeding thing in between her arms, to be a terrible wanting thing that steps away from the trains that come at night.



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