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Today's Story by Jared Blakely

If you ever embarrass me like that again, you’ll be sorry you ever did.

On Death Row

She sat rigid, clutching onto her bag while staring ahead with red, glassy eyes. She was tall and skinny, with sallow skin and dark, wet hair that clung to her cheeks and bobbled with the jagged rhythms of the train.

The man she was sitting with didn’t look like he was the morning type either. He had a pained expression on his face, set into a tight frown, with a thick vein that pulsed in his left temple.

Nick, sitting next to the girl, hadn’t paid them any mind. He’d wanted to ask her what was wrong, but decided not to at the last minute. It probably wasn’t any of his business, after all.

In the corner of his eye, he saw the guy lean over to her and say, “Hey.”

She didn’t respond.

“Beth, look at me.”

He made no effort to lower his voice.

Nick glanced up at the guy, but only for a brief instant before focusing back on the newspaper.

“Listen to me when I’m talking to you, Beth.”

The girl sniffed, wiped her eyes, and then turned to face him.

“I can’t believe you today,” he said. “I swear. If you ever embarrass me like that again, you’ll be sorry you ever did.”

She murmured something, but it was too watery and fragmented to make out.

The guy must’ve understood though, because he scoffed and shook his head. “Unbelievable,” he said. “You’re unbelievable, you know that?”

Nick’s eyes shot up and scanned the room. Nobody cared. They were staring out of the window or on their cell phones or looking down at their own feet.

The girl was about to say something else, but the guy stopped her.

“Just – please, shut up,” he said. “I’ll handle you when we get to the house.”

“No,” she said.

“Don’t make a goddamn scene. Just shut up.”

Nick felt something in his stomach twinge. Frustration simmered underneath his skin. Couldn’t anyone see just how pathetic she was?

Do it, a voice in his head said. Help her.

Nick hesitated.

Stop being an asshole and do it.

The train creaked and screeched, slowly reaching a stop.

Nick’s fingers felt clammy and wet. He wiped them on the newspaper and took a few deep breathes.

The guy sighed, rubbed his eyes, and then got up. “Let’s go,” he said.

Do it.

No, it’s too late now. The moment’s over.

Why are you such an asshole? Just tell him –

Nick’s mind hiccupped. Tell him what?

Tell him something. Anything. Jesus Christ, man, just get up and tell him to shut the fuck up already.

He was beginning to feel dizzy.

“Beth, get up,” the guy said.

Beth got up slowly.

The gears of the train kept screeching. The noise echoed in Nick’s head and swelled.

Come on, Nicky. Come on.

He glanced around once more, hoping somebody would say something. Nobody looked interested. Some were collecting their things and getting ready to go.

“Hey,” he croaked.

The guy didn’t turn. He hadn’t heard.

The girl, however, did. She glanced back, and Nick could see a bruise on her right temple that hadn’t quite faded yet. Her dry, chapped lips trembled, and her eyes seemed almost a silent plea in itself.

Nick opened his mouth and said –


His mouth opened but nothing came out.


But the words caught in his throat, and all he could do was stare back.

When the train fully stopped, there was a soft electronic bing noise, and the doors slid open. The guy tugged the girl out of the train and stepped onto the platform.

The girl didn’t look back at Nick. She stumbled along with him like a prisoner approaching death row and let his hand clamped against her arm guide her through the bustle of the crowd.


Jared Blakely is a fiction writer living in Cantonment, Florida. He writes stories and attends Pensacola State College.


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