Don't guess! If you don't know a word in the story, check it in a simple dictionary.
Michael looks around the platform while he waits for his train. He always likes watching people at train stations and airports. He loves wondering what kind of journey they are on.
He notices a woman standing a few feet away, her back turned toward him as she checks the train schedule on the board hanging above her. He moves to the side a few feet to try to get a better look at her without being too obvious and creepy. "She's cute," he thinks. He can't see her very well, but he can tell she has shoulder-length brown hair and freckles.
There is one more train coming before the one he needs to take. Michael hopes she doesn't get on it. He hopes she waits for the next train, so they can ride together. That way, he can sit by her and strike up a conversation. He can tell her his story. He recently took a break from college to pursue a music career and is travelling to meet a friend who might be able to get him a record deal. Michael thinks it will be a good way to flirt with her and get to know her better.
Suddenly, the next train arrives and Michael is relieved to see the woman doesn't move. As people get on and off the train, a tall man in a dark coat steps between Michael and the woman. Michael tries to crane his neck to see around the man, but then he notices something odd. The man bends over behind the woman and grabs her suitcase, then walks right onto the train.
"Hey!" Michael shouts, but the man has already disappeared into the crowd on the train. People look at him like he's crazy for shouting, but he doesn't care. He can't just watch a person steal someone else's luggage.
He runs up to the woman and taps her shoulder. She spins around, looking confused and scared. Despite the fear on her face, Michael can tell he was right. She is beautiful. She has deep blue eyes and a perfect button nose. He has to blink to clear his head and remind himself he's not there to flirt.
"Sorry I scared you," he says quickly. "I just saw someone steal your luggage and run onto the train."
"What?" she asks, looking down to see her suitcase is gone.
An alarm sounds, indicating that the train is about to leave. Michael looks at the woman, then the train, then back to the woman.
"Come on," he says, holding out his hand. "We'll get it back."
She looks at his hand for a second. The alarm beeps louder. The train is going to leave any moment. Finally, she grabs it and he runs toward the train, pulling her behind him. They jump through the door right as it's closing.
Michael exhales deeply. "That was close," he says.
The woman nods. "So what are we going to do now?"
The train starts moving and a voice announces that they are heading toward a city far away from where Michael and the woman need to go.
"We're going to find the guy and get your luggage back. I'm Michael, by the way."
Michael likes that name. Ellen. It's a sweet kind of name. It fits her well.
The two of them walk along the aisle of the train, Michael examining each person and Ellen searching the luggage racks for her missing suitcase. When they get to the end of the train car, Ellen whispers, "Did you see him?"
"No," Michael says, his voice frustrated. "He must've moved to a different car." Though, honestly, Michael isn't really sure if this is true. He didn't get a very good look at the guy, so he doesn't even know if he saw him or not.
Michael slides the door open and the two of them step into the next car. They are so busy searching for the thief that they don't notice the conductor at the other end, checking tickets.
They walk down the aisle, Michael examining people even harder this time, trying to remember what the guy looked like. Michael is so busy staring at passengers that he walks right into the conductor's chest and Ellen is so busy staring at the luggage racks that she walks into Michael's back.
"Hey there," the conductor says as they bounce off each other. "You two need to watch where you're going. And I need to see your tickets."
Michael reaches into his pocket and grabs his ticket, but stops. The ticket is for a completely different train. A train he's missed by now. It wouldn't do any good to show him that.
Michael thinks about lying, but then decides to just be honest. "We don't have them. Sorry, it's just someone stole her suitcase from the platform," he turns and nods at Ellen, "and got on this train, so we came looking for him. Then the train pulled away."
The conductor listens to their story, but Michael knows he's already made up his mind. "That's certainly a creative story," the conductor says. "But I can't let you ride without a ticket."
"But we have tickets," Ellen says, holding hers up. "They're just for a different train. The train we were supposed to take."
The brakes hiss as the train pulls into the next station. "I can't let you ride without a ticket," the conductor repeats. "You two need to get off the train."