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A Ticket to Ride - You Can Never Return (Writer's Challenge)

Updated on June 18, 2020
For the writer's Challenge
For the writer's Challenge | Source

The Challenge

A writer's challenge was issued by Jennifer Arnett (Availiasvision) in her wonderful hub: "Take Me Somewhere: A Writer's Challenge."

The Rules

Write a short story with the above picture as your prompt and the line "You can never return"

Use the picture above as the cover image, so that we can all identify stories that are part of the challenge.

Submit your story by Nov. 15th.

Have fun!

Use the poll to vote on your favorite story

The Man Who Never Returned

My Story

Melinda’s young son Richard had attended a special needs class in a mainstream school from the age of three by the age of six he was accepted in a residential school, recommended by the mainstream school. He lived in a dorm with six other boys. The day that Melinda and Richard visited the school to check it out, Richard wanted to stay, but he would have to wait until September for the next school season.

Greyhound to Chicago

It was a long drive for Melinda, over 200 miles, she would have to leave work early and was fortunate to work for a company that was very understanding and allowed her the time monthly to drive and pick up her son for the weekends

Holidays were a different thing all together, to get paid for holidays employees had to work the day before and the day after. When she found out that the greyhound bus company provided transportation monthly and for holidays to drop-off spots near where she lived, she was happy and the first few times things went smoothly the children were dropped off at Holiday-Inns.

Twas the day before Thanksgiving

It was the day before Thanksgiving and Melinda was told that the drop point for Richard would be the Greyhound station in downtown Chicago, next to Chicago’s Union Station (train station).

The temperature is dropping

Leaving for work that Wednesday morning it was surprisingly warm, not at all what was predicted. Melinda heard on the radio that two to three inches of snow was expected and the temperature by nightfall would drop below freezing.

This warm morning was a pleasant surprise she thought, as she opened the front door and exchanged pleasantries with the security guard and personnel manager who asked her if she would fill in for the receptionist who was running late.

When the receptionist arrived she told Melinda that the temperature had dropped ten degrees from when she left for work and it was beginning to snow. By noon the temperature had dropped another ten degrees and the snow had turned to sleet.

The treacherous drive

Melinda was worried about the bus driving in the sleet, and the company sent everyone home early. As she opened the door it was like walking into a freezer and she was glad she had worn her warm down coat and scarf to take a breath was like a gulp of ice water without the water.

The drive was treacherous, cars were sliding into each other like bumper cars, Melinda gripped the steering wheel so tight her knuckles were white and at every stop light looked at her watch. She is only a few blocks away and already she is fifteen minutes late, almost in panic mode she finds a parking spot for the terminal and crosses over Harrison Street by a cross over and enters the terminal.


As the bus arrives at the terminal

The man watched as the children piled out of the bus and parents hurried their children away, and the empty bus pulled out of the station, he noticed the little boy sitting on a suitcase.

The man wonders, where are his parents? Why did the bus pull away and leave him here alone?

No bus in sight and where was Richard?

Melinda sees an employee who directs her to an information station, where the attendant told her the bus from Illinois School for the Deaf was here over half an hour ago. Now Melinda is in panic mode. Where is my son? How could they leave? What did they do with him? How can I call them?

Melinda begins to walk around and around, and looking everywhere on every bench. What if she can’t find him?

The only way a person can know how this feels is if this happens to them.

Why does he feel such grief?

The man felt such grief, almost as if he were the one left all alone in a lonely cold bus station full of people who hurried past without stopping to ask are you waiting for someone. Are you lost? Maybe he thought of his own child who was lost and alone, he could not remember, he could not even remember his own name.

What the man did remember was that he had a train ticket, but this was a bus station. He decided this must be fate. How he would love to have a son like the little boy and decided to go back and talk to him.

I knew you would be here!

As the man was approaching the little boy, he suddenly stood up and cried out MOM, as Melinda ran to hug Richard she signed “I am sorry I am late.” Richard signed back, “It is okay, I knew you would be here”. As Melinda and Richard were leaving the terminal, the man felt as if he were losing his own family again.

Where is Union Station

Did he have a family? Was he remembering that feeling? Or did he have a family at the end of the train ride that he held a ticket for. And he hurried to the information counter to ask where is Union Station? And showed the attendant his ticket. You better hurry if you want to catch that train as he gave his directions.

Main Hall at Chicago's Union Station
Main Hall at Chicago's Union Station | Source

Union Station

The man arrived at Union Station on time, somewhere in the back of his mind he remembered this great hall so peaceful and grand with the bubbling fountain by the ticket counter that drowned out the noise of the crowd.

The engineer called out ‘all aboard’ and he boarded the train. The man felt at peace and closed his eyes as he sat down. Suddenly he heard the sound of music and remembered a song he heard long ago about a man on a train, and began to sing the words:

Hearing music

“Let me tell you the story of a man named Charlie

On a dark and fateful day

He put ten cents in his pocket and he kissed his loving family

And he went to ride the MTA

Did he ever return? No, he never returned

And his fate is still unlearned

He may ride forever ‘neath the streets of Boston’

You can never return.”


Boston? You can never return? With that his eyes popped open. As his spirit left him and he looked down on the man in the seat that was himself and heard the porter say, this man has passed away

… the song played on..........

“Charlie looked around and sighed

‘Well, I’m sore and disgusted and I’m absolutely busted

I guess this is my last long ride.’”

© 2014 Shyron E Shenko


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