I don't know why I had decided to take the train that day. It was just an impulse, a feeling. Like that was where I needed to be.
I bought my ticket and found a seat near the back, where a woman and her daughter were sharing a bag of cookies. The little girl smiled at me, cookie crumb cascading down her pink shirt. I smiled back at her, glad that in a world that seemed so dark and desperate, one little girl could find joy in the little things.
The train started with a rumble of wheels and a roar of the engine, and I leaned back in my seat as we rolled down the track, content to let it take me away.
I had just closed my eyes when suddenly we were thrown forward with tremendous force. I grabbed onto the luggage rack to keep myself from falling, my heart pounding. What's happening?
Across from me, the little girl screamed with terror, her eyes wide and frightened. Her mother sagged next to her, unconscious. There was a growing bruise on her forehead where her suitcase had hit her.
There was smoke and fire everywhere. I tried to see what was happening, but my vision was fading. Taking in a last breath of clean air, I grabbed the little girl's hand and shoved her toward the exit, hoping desperately she would find her way out.
I couldn't see. I couldn't breathe. And slowly, I sank to the floor, my oxygen deprived, hoping against hope someone was out there.