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Railroad

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A blanket of gray clouds smothered the sky and blocked sunlight from reaching the buildings below. The cold drizzle evolved into a steady rainfall and the city bustled with a new energy. Children giggled in delighted amusement at the splashes their boots made in the puddles; men groaned over the business suits that would need to be washed later. Footsteps scuffed and spattered the sidewalks as home bound workers rushed to seek shelter under the roof of a building or taxi. A woman removed her jacket and shielded the heads of her two young children. The baby boy bounced in his sister’s arms and laughed happily, feeling her soaked long hair drip rain water into his palms. She managed a tiny smile and his eyes lit up before letting out another fit of giggles. His mother glanced back at the clock tower anxiously. The train would arrive shortly, and mother, daughter, and son would leave the city forever.

It had been days since she had truly felt anything—not even the pain seemed to exist. Everything went numb that moment she had found her husband lying cold on the floor with that cursed pistol to his temple. He had talked of it before, but never did she believe he would pull the trigger before she could stop him. A note was left saying that he had failed as a husband and a father and no longer deserved to live. The next day it just so happened that the man was offered his job back after a new recruit broke his arm. Work for women was scarce where there was a flock of young unemployed men, so the woman took her children and thumbed her way to the train station.

From the distance came a bright blinking light followed by the creaking of railroad tracks. Attempting to win the attention of his weary mother and sister, the little boy gaped and pointed excitedly at the large slowing train. The chugging came to a screeching halt, and the doors opened to welcome the new passengers. The broken family climbed the steps into the train, dragging the little luggage they had cumbersomely behind them. Dim lights illuminated the corridor enough for each occupant to see where seating was available and notice the few who stopped to look at the oncoming passengers and the many that did not bother to pass a glance. Leading her brother with one hand, the young girl followed her mother to the back of the train where the last seat was taken by a rugged man who faced the window. Perhaps if he had ever been married, or even held a child, he may have been sympathetic to the woman brimming with weariness and her small children. However, he had not, and so the family stood holding onto a supporting pole until the two seats in front of them opened up at the next stop an hour later.

That man had been on this train several times—enough so that he no longer could recall the exact number. As a strong and experienced man he was exceptional at his work, however he was too afraid. He had seen the men who lost everything, who struggled every day to feed themselves, who ended their life to escape the pain and hunger and stress. He was not those men. Every few months he carefully planned his next move in which he could collect his wages and leave for a new job in a new town. He did not have any ties to his home such as family or sentimentality. His only care was to survive by outsmarting the system of reality, and he would do it alone. The tattered seats of the train and the squeaking railroad were his life’s only companion.


Engines roared and the wheels steadily gained speed on the tracks. The young boy squealed and watched in utter amazement as the once still trees became passing blurs behind them. His mother silenced him with a stern glare and his smile slowly retreated from his face. A nearby couple grinned and laughed a little, for they adored the antics of children. They were ill-suited for the silent weary company of the other passengers on the train. Stubborn and over trusting, the husband had spent a great deal of their wealth in casinos and other promising schemes to find incredible riches in short amounts of time. He had not intended to lose his wife’s jewelry, the house, or the job. The one thing he did not lose was the love of his wife who had kept true to her wedding vows. She loved him dearly and would never leave over something as trivial as jewelry, a house, or a job. The cold, torn seats of the train were made warm and luxurious by the soft touch of his fingers against her skin. She gazed up into his eyes for moments before allowing herself to drift off to sleep in his arms.



Hours passed and night morphed into a beautiful dawn. Rising sunlight broke through and dissolved the gray shroud, leaving behind a pearly morning light. The city slowly awoke. Businessmen began their daily commute to the tall urban buildings. Children rose out of bed to the smell of eggs and squinted their eyes searching for remnants of rainbows. It was a morning like any other, and the familiar whistling and chugging of the train neared its destination.





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