Lost ticket

She shuffles up to the ticket kiosk, eyes glued to the floor.  She stands directly in front of the counter, seconds pass, her breath hovers visibly in the chilled air, she wonders if anyone is on the other side of the glass.

“Lost ticket?” a voice crackles.

“I’m sorry?”

“Lost.  Ticket.  Yes?”

“N-no, I… uh… I haven’t bought a ticket yet.  I would like to buy a train ticket… please.”

“Right.  You need a Lost ticket.   …You are Lost, aren’t you?”

Perplexed, she looks up at the ticket window.  The man on the other side is impossibly old.  His spectacles cling impossibly low on the edge of his nose.  She peers at him for a second before answering.  “I don’t know what you mean.”

“You are Lost.  Losts are only permitted to purchase others’ misplaced tickets.  You may not choose your destination, your departure time, or your connecting stations.  You are to follow what is printed on your Lost ticket.”

Still confused, but unwilling to test the teller’s patience, she feigns understanding.  “Uh… right.  One Lost ticket, then, please.”

“You may only purchase one Lost ticket at a time.  Okay?”

She must have looked sullen.  He makes an attempt at optimism.

“You’re in luck, though!  People have lost some really great tickets this week.  We’ve found nearly a dozen, and it’s only Thursday!  And, on top of that, they’re the cheapest ticket we sell.  Only five dollars!”

She smiles faintly and fishes some coins out of her purse.  She counts carefully and hands him the money.

“Step forward,” he commands.  The ticket is attached to a long string, which he proceeds to tie around the back of her neck.  The Lost ticket hangs just above her abdomen, like a pendant.

“Don’t bother trying to take it off.  I know it’s not the most fashionable thing, but it’s stuck there until you complete your journey.  Now let’s get your itinerary….”

He fumbles through several drawers behind the counter, out of sight.  It occurrs to her as odd that her itinerary would be filed away so deeply, buried beneath seas of paper, if it was just acquired this week.

“Ah!  Got it.  Let’s see.  Your train’s departure time is…. oh… that’s–OH!  SEVEN MINUTES!  Goodness gracious, child, get going!  W-WAIT–COME BACK!  YOUR ITINERARY!!”

She snatches the itinerary from him and runs, just within earshot to hear him cry, “PLATFORM SIX, LEFT-HAND SIDE!!”

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