Anna opened the cabin door and exited her passenger car in her bare feet. The metal floor connecting the cars was warm in some places, and cold in others. She started across the small enclosed space to the next car behind hers. The clicking noise of the train was louder between the cars.
“This just doesn’t make any sense,” she said out loud. “What’s the big hurry? It looks to me like everyone’s asleep on this train.”
The door behind her automatically shut after she passed through it. The woman with blonde hair who insisted that she hurry and run was no longer in sight. This was starting to get weirder by the second. What’s going on? If anyone sees me running down the aisle in the middle of the night they’ll think I’m nuts for sure.
Before she could open the door of the next car, Anna heard a loud metallic noise and felt the train shudder beneath her feet. Suddenly she was thrown forward off her feet onto the hard metal floor, as the small compartment jerked from side to side. The flexible seal between the cars split open, allowing a rush of wind and cool air.
Another sideways jerk of the train cars flung her off the floor and through the opening between the train cars. Her left leg struck the edge of the car as she plummeted out, but it did not stop her sideways motion.
For a fraction of a second she’s watched the outside of the train go forward without her, until her right arm struck a girder of the bridge, spinning her away from the train.
Helpless to stop her fall, knowing that her life was over, she prayed “Jesus” just before landing in the water. Loud noises of squealing and smashing metal filled her ears when she surfaced briefly. She was dazed and not believing what she was hearing through the fog above her on the bridge.
With the toes on her right foot she could feel the ooze of soft mud. Her head was barely above the surface of the water.
The smell of diesel fuel was in the air. A thick fog kept her from seeing which way she should swim to reach solid ground. She heard an explosion to her left, and could see an orange glow in the dark fog. Without further considering her decision, she decided to swim in the opposite direction from the orange glow.
However, as soon as Anna tried to move her legs and arms in an effort to swim, severe pain wracked her frame. She could no longer keep her head above water due to the overwhelming pain. Just before she passed out and sank below the water, she saw the bright orange glow draw closer to her on the water and above her on the bridge.
Water filled her lungs. She stopped breathing below the surface, as key events in her life flashed through her subconscious mind. As a small child, she was surrounded by her parent’s love for her. She could see her mother and father laughing with her around the kitchen table at supper time. She could feel her mother hug her and kiss her and tell her to have a good day at school, as she waved from the door. She never understood why tears were running down her mother’s cheeks even though there was a smile on her face. “Tears of joy,” she remembered her mother explaining.
Thoughts ran through her mind of that terrible day when the airplane crashed into their house in Kenner. She once again saw the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles. She remembered looking toward her house and seeing the broken nose of the airplane pointed toward her – dead but menacing. Before that she remembered a kind voice saying, “Anna, come with me.” When she looked up, a woman with bright blonde hair had taken her hand and led her out of the broken house to safety. Outside her home, she remembered looking up at the woman to ask who she was, when the flash of a camera had startled her. She looked at the cameraman, then back to the woman who was now gone.
The final thought that floated through her mind was of her aunt telling her that she would live with them, as a quiet peace settled over her still form in the water. No more thoughts. No more pain. Silence, warmth, and stillness surrounded her.