The Line

Billy tried to see the end of the line but it was useless, it seemed to go on forever.  He’s been standing here for almost an hour and the line has barely moved.  He thought about getting out of line to walk ahead and see how much further it was.  But when he looked behind him, he couldn’t see the end either, and he knew that if he left the line, he would have to go to the back and wait even longer.  He could just imagine how upset his mother would be if he came home and told her that he got tired of waiting, and left the line.

“Billy,” she said as he was leaving this morning, “I wish that your father were here to see you heading off to wait in line, he would really be proud.”

Billy always knew that when he turned sixteen, people would expect him to go wait in line, but it always seemed so far in the future that he didn’t really think about it.  On his sixteenth birthday last month, his mother gave him a pair of walking shoes and said, “I’m not trying to push you Billy, but if you decide to go to the line these shoes will be perfect.”

“Thanks Mom,” he said, “of course I’ll be going to the line, I just have a few things to do first to make sure I’m ready.”

Everyone had to make their own choice; you didn’t have to wait in line if you didn’t want to.  His older brother Charlie never went to the line.  When Billy asked him why, Charlie said, “Billy, I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve told everyone, the line wasn’t for me.  I thought about going and almost convinced myself that I should, but when it came down to it, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle it.  It’s been hard these past few years, looking in people’s eyes and knowing what they were thinking about me.  But, I’m happy with my choice, because instead of saying that I tried and failed, I can say that I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it, so I just didn’t go.”  The look of sadness in his eyes, as he told Billy this, made him realize that he regretted his choice, and Billy knew that he had to try.

You could only go to the line when you were sixteen, not the year before or the year after.  The majority of Billy’s friends always talked about how excited they were about going, but as they got closer to sixteen, they said less about it.  Billy never asked anyone if they planned to go, probably because he knew that then they would ask him, and he didn’t want to think about it.  He wished there was someone to ask what happened when you reached the end of the line, but no one would say anything about it.  The ones that made it to the end would always say, “You just have to experience it yourself, there’s nothing I can tell you that would make you understand.”

So, he’s waiting in line, he can see a huge wall at the end.  As he gets closer, more kids are leaving the line, walking away with their heads down, talking to themselves.

It’s been nine hours and he’s finally at the front of the line, there’s only one kid in front of him now, and the boy turns around and says, “I forgot to do something, I’ve got to…” then walks away, mumbling and shaking his head.  So, it’s Billy’s turn.  He’s standing at the brick wall and there’s a small red door in front of him.  It takes every ounce of courage he has to grab the worn, silver handle and pull.  He’s shaking so badly that he can barely walk through the door as it opens, but he does.

What happens next?  If you ask Billy, he’ll say, “you just have to experience it yourself, there’s nothing I can tell you that would make you understand.”


So, what do you think happens at the end of the line?

About the author

JimsGotWeb

I write short stories, love to travel, install auto glass, and collect Beatles memorabilia.

Posted on by JimsGotWeb in short stories

14 Responses to The Line

  1. Ria

    I don’t know why but I get a dystopian/sci-fi feel to this story. I might be totally off the mark but I think beyond the door Billy will experience some kind of revelation that would give him purpose. Ah, well! That is me dodging the question you asked 😛 But to tell the truth I would rather find out than guess. So much for creativity…
    Ria recently posted…The Car That Sold ItselfMy Profile

     
  2. Jaja
    Twitter:

    This was different. I really enjoyed it. I liked the build up and the suspense that led to the climax.

    I would have elaborated a bit more on the children in the line. Describe their body language. Were they fidgeting or standing still? Also I would add a bit more detail to the atmosphere. Was it sunny, cold etc.?

    Overall though, it was good and unique. I was entertained. I also agree with Ria about the Dystopia science fiction vibe.
    Jaja recently posted…WHAT RUSSELL DID NEXT 10My Profile

     
    • JimsGotWeb
      Twitter:

      Hey JaJa, thanks for stopping by!
      I agree that more detail would have been helpful in this story. It is a habit of mine to want to get to the end of a story quickly. I did have in mind to describe the difficulty of waiting so long and the stress it caused, with kids leaving the line and breaking down and crying.
      Have you read “The Long Walk” by Stephen King? The description of the kids on this walk is amazing! I’ll have to keep working on it.
      Thanks,
      jim
      JimsGotWeb recently posted…RememberMy Profile

       
      • Jaja
        Twitter:

        I haven’t read the long walk as yet. I’ll make a note of it and check it out in a few months time. I am currently juggling too many books at present.

        Despite the absence of detail in those sections, the story is good and I enjoyed it.
        Jaja recently posted…WHAT RUSSELL DID NEXT 10My Profile

         
  3. Rooster Smith, Director, "Of Mice and Men 2: Lenny's Revenge!
    Twitter:

    Billy tried to see the end of the line but it was useless, it seemed to go on forever. He’s been standing here for almost an hour and the line has barely moved. He thought about getting out of line to walk ahead and see how much further it was. But when he looked behind him, he couldn’t see the end either, and he knew that if he left the line, he would have to go to the back and wait even longer. He could just imagine how upset his mother would be if he came home and told her that he got tired of waiting, and left the line.

    THAT IS AN AWESOME START. USED “THE LINE” LIKE A MILLION TIMES BUT IT WORKED. KIND OF LIKE ONE OF THOSE OLD SCI-FI MOVIES. “WE’LL NEVER DEFEAT, “THE CORPERATION” WE MUST ALWAYS FOLLOW “THE REGULATIONS.” WE MUST ALWAYS WAIT …. “IN THE LINE.”

    Everyone had to make their own choice; you didn’t have to wait in line if you didn’t want to. His older brother Charlie never went to the line. When Billy asked him why, Charlie said, “Billy, I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve told everyone, the line wasn’t for me. I thought about going and almost convinced myself that I should, but when it came down to it, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. It’s been hard these past few years, looking in people’s eyes and knowing what they were thinking about me. But, I’m happy with my choice, because instead of saying that I tried and failed, I can say that I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it, so I just didn’t go.” The look of sadness in his eyes, as he told Billy this, made him realize that he regretted his choice, and Billy knew that he had to try.

    DORITOS TACOS? THE IPHONE 5? WHAT COULD THIS LINE BE FOR?

    You could only go to the line when you were sixteen, not the year before or the year after. The majority of Billy’s friends always talked about how excited they were about going, but as they got closer to sixteen, they said less about it. Billy never asked anyone if they planned to go, probably because he knew that then they would ask him, and he didn’t want to think about it. He wished there was someone to ask what happened when you reached the end of the line, but no one would say anything about it. The ones that made it to the end would always say, “You just have to experience it yourself, there’s nothing I can tell you that would make you understand.”
    REALLY? NOT ONE PERSON IS LIKE, “AN OLD GYPSEY WOMAN TELLS YOU A RIDDLE. YOU GET CANDY IF YOU WIN. DON’T EAT IT, IT SUCKS.”

    So, what do you think happens at the end of the line?

    NO! NO! NO! I GOTTA KNOW! IT’S DRIVING ME NUTS!

    NO PAY OFF, JIM. THAT DON’T SIT RIGHT WITH ME.

    BUT I LIKE YOUR STYLE. IT’S ALL REALLY EASY READS, EVEN IF SETTING IS DISREGARDED A BIT.

    I’VE SAID THIS LAST TIME, I’LL REPEAT IT, I WOULD LOVE TO READ SOMETHING LONGER FROM YOU. SOMETHING WITH A PLOT.

    REALLY LIKED THIS PIECE, BUT LACK OF A PAYOFF HURT IT IN MY OPINION.
    Rooster Smith, Director, “Of Mice and Men 2: Lenny’s Revenge! recently posted…Dragon Fucker Part 11: The Battle of Rape DungeonMy Profile

     
    • Ria

      I agree with you, Rooster on the no-payoff bit. Does leave the reader a tad unsatisfied. I would really like to know more about the line Jim.
      Ria recently posted…Courage Makes All The DifferenceMy Profile

       
    • JimsGotWeb
      Twitter:

      I know. I debated for quite a while before deciding to leave the ending open like that. I’m a firm believer in creating an experience for the reader that allows them to use their imagination. There’s a fine line between helping the reader see your vision and giving them room to create their own. I may have stepped over that line, I don’t know, we’ll see if anyone comments with their thoughts of what was behind the wall.
      Thanks for stopping by,
      Jim
      JimsGotWeb recently posted…The LineMy Profile

       
      • Rooster Smith, Director, "Of Mice and Men 2: Lenny's Revenge!
        Twitter:

        I hear what your saying. I think it works if it’s a lord of the flies type of philosophical question. LIke, “but who will save them from these boys?”

        But it doesn’t work if it’s a storytelling issue. Like if we wanna know what happened to the characters.

        In lord of the flies, we know those kids are gonna be alright, at least physically. They’ll go back to england with some scary stories and emotional scars. But the plot is taken care of, they got off the island.

        the theme can be left to the readers imagination because nothing really ever ends.

        that being said, you created a really cool world here man, I hope you keep playing in it. I’d read the crap out of another line story.

         
  4. Scott L

    Jim,
    Jim, Jim …yer killin’ me here! What I want to know is do YOU know what’s at the end of the line!?
    I could throw you some esoteric verbal flatulence like:
    “It’s a window to the soul of the victor, a reward of wisdom for the perseverant, sustenance for the hungered and the water of life for those that thirst …etc.”

    I say, yank one of these tight-lipped goobers up by the boxers and MAKE him talk!!

    Aside from that, I’d have to agree with Jaja on the detail part, if we’re not going to get an ending, at least we can have a richer experience while waiting in line. I’d have suggested having the participants reveal their rumor borne suspicions of what awaited them to each other. Foster a conspiracy mentality and watch kids flee in mortal terror.

    Hehehe
    But that’s me …

    Still, always a nice read and ever a pleasure at having done so.
    Scott
    Scott L recently posted…Highwaymen 3 – conclusionMy Profile

     
    • JimsGotWeb
      Twitter:

      Scott,
      I like the idea of the kids talking about what they thought happened at the end of the line. It would be a way for some of the braver kids to get those more timid to leave so the line would be shorter.

      I actually have a pretty good idea about what they encounter after their long wait. I’m considering spending more time on this story, everyone has given me some great suggestions, and filling in some of the details would be fun.

      Thanks,
      Jim
      JimsGotWeb recently posted…Her Next VictimMy Profile

       
      • Scott L

        Jim,
        That’s an even better twist, “instigating” the terror to hasten the process! Man, that idea’s rife with possibilities!

        You GO Jim!
        Scott
        Scott L recently posted…Down on RangeMy Profile

         
  5. Deborah E
    Twitter:

    Wow … great writing there… I want part two, now. I couldn’t help but think about WW2 and signing up for the army. Of course, not being a military person, that shows what I know! It isn’t a literal, but that was the picture that kept coming to mind, especially when it was not for everyone.
    Deborah E recently posted…10 Mind Blowing Artists Who Have Wooed Their Way Into Your Hearts With Their Light Graffiti SkillsMy Profile

     

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