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The Children and The Train

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It is a crisp October morning. There is a bit of frost on the grass, but it slowly melts as the sun rises overhead. A few clouds linger from a past storm, but the children are no less joyful regardless of the chilly weather.

The train has not arrived yet, and countless young boys and girls wait anxiously on the platform. Many of them are bouncing on their benches or on their feet. A few hang onto their mother or father's hand tightly, a small frown on their little faces. Many are in between fear and excitement. The day has finally arrived after having heard so much of the train ride.

A small boy with big sea-blue eyes looks up at his mother. "Is it coming yet, Mama?"

She wipes a small tear away before smiling down at her son. "It will be here on time. Do not worry." She gripped his hand a little tighter.

The little girl a few feet away from them looks up at her older brother instead of her father. "Are you coming with me, Cody?"

The brother shakes his head, frowning as he looks down the station.

She turns to her father. "Why isn't Cody coming?"

He gazes down at his daughter, who looks so much like her mother, his bottom lip quivering slightly. "It's not his time. This is your time, Emily." The little girl smiled up in return, glowing in the attention she was receiving and continued swinging her father's hand cheerily.

Then they hear it.

Almost everyone jumps slightly once the whistle of the approaching train sounds. Many move forward to get a look, mostly the younger children dragging their parent's behind.

The train releases no black smoke to dirty its flawless marble-white exterior. It is much quieter than other trains, despite its old age. The train brings with it a great weight, of something permanent. It is pristine, ancient and ominous as it slows upon arrival. Once it stops completely, the platform is dead silent, as if everyone is suddenly holding their breath, for the moment has arrived.

The conductor comes forth from one of the middle cars. "All aboard! All aboard!"

Suddenly, there is a shift as all the parents and loving guardians begin to kneel down, giving last kisses and hugs and many 'you be on your best behavior, alright?' as straight-faced as they can. They cry.

The children, most of them smile, as if they are starting a new year of school again. Their smiles are not dampened by their mother's and father's tears; they are happy for the new adventure they'd anticipated for a long time. Several of them cry, the older children, the ones who understand where it is they are going.

Other men and women of the train get off to help the smaller ones aboard. The older children linger, hugging their parents and younger siblings once more.

Emily boards the train, her father helping her up. She turns. "Will you come see me?"

"Not yet."

"Cody?"

"Probably yet, either, sweetie. But you'll see Mommy, though."

Emily's small frown quickly disappears. "Mommy will be there?" she asks excitedly.

"Yes, baby," her father replies shakily. "One last hug for your pop, pumpkin?" As he embraces her, he says, "Say 'hi' to Mommy for us, okay?"

The little girl lets go and nods. "I will, Daddy!" She then skips off into the car.

The blue-eyed boy does not board immediately. Instead, he turns to his mother, frowning. "I do not want to go, Mama. I want to stay here, with you."

His mother blinks, biting back tears. "But it is your time, honey, not mine. We will see each other soon."

The boy looks up at her skeptically. "You promise?"

She kneels down, takes both his hands, and kisses them. "I promise, baby. We will be together again." She hugs him, whispers "I love you" into his ear. Then she stands and leads her son towards the train, where a woman helps him aboard.

Their time is up. The doors begin to close. A whistle sounds, echoing throughout the rest of the platform, and then the train begins to move.

The boy finds an empty seat by a window and takes it. Most of the other children are running around, exploring their car. Others are gathered at the window and waving frantically. He finds his mother and places a hand on the window.

She sees him and blows him a kiss, tears streaking slowly down her face. She smiles.

He smiles in return. Once the station is out of sight, he sits properly in his seat on his last train ride.



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