Don’t Try So Hard
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People stared at Mari in confusion and distanced themselves from the static she was releasing all around herself. Mari ignored their looks of fear and took off her good sandals.

More looks of fear and confusion appeared as she next took off her socks.

"This better work," Mari said to herself. "Oh please work."

She focused all her strength she had into the soles of her feet and she was able to stand up without leaning to the side. Random strangers cheered as they saw her slowly make her way through the crowd, searching for her parents. Emergency vehicles came and ropes were thrown out. The plasma nets were not working as the safety measure for the platform, so the local government brought physical nets instead.

People started crawling towards the first responders, but Mari didn't care. She needed to know if her parents were safe first.

As she got closer to the center of the platform, she could see her parents in the distance. Her father was leaning in the opposite direction the platform was falling and was trying to open the lobby doors.

"Let us in," he pleaded.

"No! I see your clothes and your accents," shouted a janitor. "Undesireables! You are the reason this is happening! Cursing us all!"

Mari ran over to her mother and helped her get farther away from the edge, but it was in vain. The automated hyper-train system was punctual, and today was no different.

A friendly chime blasted from the speakers and everyone started to scream. No one heard what the next boarding train would be because it didn't matter. Mari braced herself for impact, one last time as a bright line shone in the distance. The familiar crackle of the electric hyper-way rails sparked to life, but this time, at an awkward angle, because they were trying to align with the magnets of the platform.

The platform tried to align with the railway, but it forced it to start slanting downwards, making the situation more precarious. Mari and her mother started sliding downwards but she was not going to give up. Her father tumbled downwards and Mari grabbed him by the back of his collar. It was now near impossible for anyone to stay on the platform unless they were inside certain parts of the lobby or climbed to almost the other side slowly.

People were spilling off it and emergency personnel had no choice but to back away from the platform or else they would be killed by the oncoming hyper-train.

Mari's father held his wife's hand and told her he loved her. She told him she loved him too and lovingly looked at her daughter. The sudden light show she could perform was surprising, but didn't scare her at all.

"I didn't know you could do all this," Mari's mother said. "You really are the smart one."

"Remember how she was born in a thunderstorm," her father replied. "Must be the reason why."

He grunted as strangers fell from the platform, bumping into him. They fell onto the electrical rail tracks and burst into flames, falling downwards into the dark abyss. Her father tried to continue their family reunion with some bit of normalcy left. Mari cried but she didn't let go, even as she slid closer and closer to the rail tracks.

"Tell me about your day," her father said.

"I don't want to talk about my day," Mari screamed. "Why are you doing this!?!"

"I don't want to remember you like this. Sad," her mother replied. "I don't want you to remember us like that either. It's okay, Mari, it's okay to be happy too sometimes. Stop pushing yourself so much. It's okay. Let go."


Mari did not let go.

She never would.

Even as the lobby doors cracked from pressure and more people came spilling out, Mari did not let go. Even when the wind of the oncoming hyper-train sucked the air out of her lungs and picked them up off the platform, into the sky like dandelion seeds, she did not let go. Even when their bodies landed on the electric tracks she did not let go.

When Eric got home he turned on the family's living room holo-screen to see a live news feed of the same platform crumbling to the ground. He felt paranoid and silly thinking of calling her, but he decided he would rather look silly for a bit than always have regrets.

So he stuck out his left thumb and pinkie, said Mari's number out loud, and bent his pinkie twice.

Ring ring. Ring ring. Ring ring.

No one picked up.