The Sunrail, A Narrative Experience


Meili Watanabe

Hunter Vann misses his downtown appointment because of the train.

Hunter Vann, OSBN Executive Producer

 I step out of my car, leaving behind the oasis of air conditioning and stepping into the stifling air of Florida’s springtime. The endless drone of cicadas announces the change of seasons, like the trumpets announcing the arrival of an esteemed guest in one of my medieval fantasies. I begin the arduous journey towards the station platform, the sun’s rays suffocating and the heat magnified by the black asphalt lot beneath me. As I step onto the station platform, the shelter’s overhang provides brief respite from the gruesome weather.

Checking the timetables, my anxiety is lifted from my shoulders as I see that the southbound train will arrive in 10 minutes – plenty of time. I walk across the station towards the bright yellow ticket dispenser, taking special care of my footing as the platform is rife with potholes and loose brickwork, scars from rampant budget cuts. The plastic keys leave a viscous gray residue on my fingers, eroded by the UV rays.

As the cardboard ticket falls from the dispenser, it rattles in the clear glass receptacle. “Limited use only” is printed boldly in yellow on black font, declaring its impending doom proudly. I wonder what it’s like to be created just to be an expendable proof of payment. My train of thought is interrupted by the literal train barreling down the tracks, the grating squeal of steel on steel transcending the drawl of the spring cicadas.

But as I look down the line, a mix of confusing signals ricochets in my mind. Surely this was not the southbound train? It’s on the other side of the tracks, going northbound towards Daytona, right? It cannot be my train.

The train hisses and spits as the brakes let loose its grip and the elephantine diesel engines grind to life. I take a seat on a rather uncomfortable grated metal bench, with bars laid across it to deter any long-term use. One, two, three – with every passing minute, uncertainty grows and I begin to stir. I look around for signs of a clue as to where, just where this train could be! And then I see the answer hiding just above my head: “Northbound Station.”

I had been on the wrong platform this entire time, my appointment and my money all lost to my own astigmatism. If I were so inspired, I could get back into my car and race the train to the next station, but then I might as well drive downtown. Here I am, stranded and without hope of making it to City Hall, certainly not in the next five minutes. I open my phone and begin a flurry of frenzied apologies.