NOTE: This piece was written as my version of the backstory for a character which appears in the anime Haibane Renmei, and contains possible
spoilers for that series. Reader discretion is advised.
A Short Story by
It had been a good day before the night it happened.
The family had gone out to celebrate the brother's acceptance into an exclusive school. After dinner, they went and saw a movie.
It wasn't the best movie the girl had ever seen, but it was a good movie. Her brother seemed to like it, and that's what mattered.
The coolest guy in the movie was an engineer, and her brother wanted to be an engineer. The school he had been accepted to was one of the best
engineering schools in the country, and the family was very proud of him.
It wasn't easy being the youngest, especially with the oldest kid in the family getting all the attention, like usual, but the girl sat quietly in
the back seat eating some candy she had saved from the theater while the rest of the family talked about the movie and how smart her brother was.
They always seemed to think she didn't know a lot about movies like that, but she did, and it bothered her that no one knew it, but not that much.
They weren't far from home, just a few blocks, when they came to the crossing. It was the same crossing the girl used each day to walk to school,
which wasn't that far away.
Dad was looking over his shoulder a lot talking to her brother, so he didn't see the flashing lights right away. Mom told him to watch out, and he
stopped, but the car went through the gate and broke it off.
Dad said not to panic and he threw the car into reverse, but the girl could see he was afraid. He let the clutch out too fast, and the car stalled.
The crossing bells were very loud because they were right next to the side of the car, and the girl was scared, but her brother and sister were
laughing. Her dad was cursing as he tried to start the car. He was saying “Damn it! Just a second!”
Mom was looking out the right side of the car and said that a train was coming very fast. The girl kneeled on the seat to look out the window at the
train, and saw that it was almost there. She was going to say something when the train hit the car and she hit her head against the window and was
She woke up in a hospital room. Her aunt was there. The girl didn't really like the aunt that much, but she was okay, she supposed. Her aunt's
boyfriend was creepy, though, and she didn't like him at all.
They were talking, but stopped talking and stared at her when the girl woke up. Her aunt asked her how she felt, but didn't seem to listen to the
girl when she asked where everybody was.
The doctor came in and looked at her, and shined a bright light in her eyes and said it was okay for the girl to go home, that it was just a slight
concussion and that it would be best for her to be with family members right now. So her aunt took her home.
Nobody else was home when they got there, and that's when the boyfriend said he was going to go get some cigarettes. When he was gone, the girl's
aunt told her that everyone else in the car had died in the train crash, and that she was the only one who had survived.
She said the news people were calling her the “Miracle Girl” because she only had a minor bump on the head, even though the car was smashed up
very badly and everyone else died. She had only been asleep for a little while in the hospital before she woke up.
The girl didn't believe her aunt. It must have been a lie. The girl cursed at her and called her a liar. Then she ran out the door. Her aunt started
to run after her, but then stopped and watched the girl run down the street.
The girl was running as fast as she could. It was very dark and windy and cold, but it was only three blocks to the crossing, and the girl knew the
way really well.
The crossing gate was missing on one side, and there were still police cars with their lights flashing. There were fire trucks and ambulances and lots
of people standing around, and people walking around with flashlights, too, but they were far away down the tracks and the girl couldn't see the car
Then she saw the tiny pieces of broken glass all over the ground, red and blue and white under the flashing lights, and she saw some of the pieces of
the car. They were painted the exact same color as her dad's car. She couldn't see the car itself, but right then she knew her aunt hadn't been
Her whole family was dead, except her.
Just when she figured out it was true, a policeman looked over at her. She could hear the sound of his radio over the noise of the wind and the people
talking. She turned around and ran alongside the tracks, trying not to let anyone see her cry.
She didn't want anyone to come after her, so she walked in the shadows next to the fence for a while. But the weeds were scratching her legs, so she
started walking along the tracks.
After a while the scratchy weeds gave way to tall grass, and there wasn't a fence anymore , but the girl stayed between the rails as she followed
their broad, sweeping curves across one switch, then another. She was out in the countryside now, and had never been here before.
She was looking around, and she was shivering because it was really cold and she hadn't brought a jacket, but she couldn't stop thinking about what
How could everyone be dead like that and not her? Why was she the only one who didn't die? She didn't remember when she started crying, but she was
crying a lot.
She was starting to remember what had happened at the crossing, but she still couldn't believe it was really true. She kept walking for a long time,
and it started to get really cold, and the wind was blowing very hard.
How could her whole family die like that? It couldn't be true. It must be a mistake.
But she knew it was true. She could feel it. She was all alone now.
Her throat hurt, and she kept making these whimpering noises, and she was mad because she didn't want anyone to see her or hear her making those
sounds, but there was nobody else around.
There was a sign next to the tracks with pictures of the kind of cigarettes her aunt's boyfriend smoked. She didn't want to go live with them, but
she knew that's what she would have to do.
She kept walking, thinking about what that would be like, when all of a sudden she remembered that she was wearing her sister's favorite dress. Her
sister used to wear it all the time until she grew out of it. It was the same dress the girl had been wearing earlier that night when the accident
It was hard to see because it was so dark, but she looked down at the dress, and saw a dark stain on it, near the bottom. It was blood, but it wasn't
She fell to her knees, and the gravel dug in and stung them, but that's not what hurt the most. She was staring at the stain when the moon came up.
It was full and as red as the blood on her dress.
The night was so cold, and she was all alone. How could they leave her? Why was she the only one who got to live, when she was the only one nobody
else cared about? It wasn't fair.
She started crying again, but was mad and wanted it to stop. It was way too cold and windy, and she was shivering and tired and weak. The tears were
stinging her eyes and felt like they were freezing on her cheeks.
It hurt too much, feeling things. She didn't want to feel anything, not anything at all, ever again. She picked up some gravel in her hand and stared
Stones don't feel pain, don't cry, don't care if nobody else cares about them, don't care if it's cold, don't care if they're all alone, so why
couldn't she be a stone?
The wind whipped her hair against her face as she looked up and saw another sign. This one was for a vacation place, and it had a picture of the sun
on it, like a postcard.
It seemed wrong that the sun could be shining anywhere when it was so dark and cold and lonely, and the girl bent over, sobbing so hard that it hurt.
Like everything hurt. It hurt too much, and she wanted it to go away.
She hugged her knees, pretending to be a stone, trying to disappear.
Through the howling of the freezing wind, she thought she heard a whistle in the distance. It sounded just like the whistle she had heard right before
the train hit. Could it be the same train?
She thought back to the moments before the crash, playing them in her mind like a movie. It was all in slow motion. She could feel the rumbling of the
tracks, the noise of the wheels, the shrieking of the whistle, the clanging of the crossing bell.
Her dad was yelling but trying not to look nervous as he kept trying to start the car. Her mom was telling him to hurry up, that the train was coming
too fast. Her brother and sister were laughing. For some reason, they thought it was funny.
She could see her sister smiling at her, winking, like everything was going to be all right.
The engineer on the train must have seen the car on the tracks, because he kept blowing the whistle again and again. The girl knew he couldn't stop
the train. They were way too big to stop right away. The car was shaking as the train got closer, and the whistle kept blowing, louder and louder over
the roar of the tracks.
At the last moment, the girl looked up, mesmerized, almost blinded. The light shining on her face was as bright as the sun, but it was so close that
she could almost reach out and touch it...