Racing Trains

November 6, 2011
The morning I hung up my cape and cowl permanently, it snowed for the first time in years. I had spent six years of my life protecting this city and not once had snow touched the ground. The change of seasons was a cathartic experience, and as I stood waiting for my train to pull into the station, I was genuinely excited for the future.

“Leaving so soon? I just got here, man.”

I wasn’t surprised to see the rookie here to see me off. I could tell from his voice that he was nervous, but he cracked a smile and wore a brave face. My protégé offered a handshake, but I brushed it off and embraced him with a full hug. He grinned and slapped me on the back. It might have been years since we’d last worked together, but I knew he was going to love this city the same way I did. I couldn’t leave her in more capable hands.

“I told you not to come here,” I reminded him.

“I’ve only been in town for a day, it’s not like I had much else to do. Most of my possessions are still in the mail, unfortunately. Besides, did you think I would just let you leave without saying goodbye?”

He was a good kid, no question. Sure, in the back of my mind I felt guilty for abandoning the city like this, but she belonged to this young man now. I could already see it in everything from the way that he spoke to the way that he carried himself; he was ready for me to pass him the torch.

“No, I didn’t, but I’ve been looking forward to a vacation for a long, long time.”

“Are you going to miss it?”

A train came roaring through the station, drowning out my first half-hearted attempt at replying. As my scarf blew in the wind, I reevaluated my own thoughts on the matter. Would I miss it? There was a lot to miss; the excitement, the immaterial rewards, leaving my mark on history. On the other hand, there was plenty I would be happy to leave behind. I could do without the constant threat of being killed, the regular encounters with the supernatural and the never ending fear of having my secret identity discovered.

“I’ll miss it every day,” I shared. “Let me level with you, though; I’m choosing to put an end to this part of my life before I get too old or too sloppy and someone else makes that decision for me.”

“You never thought about fighting the good fight until the very end?”

“I’ve thought about it, sure. I’d rather not be remembered as a failure, honestly. And this is probably the only shot at a normal life I’ll ever have. Opportunity only knocks once.”

My train rolled into the station, and we exchanged glances. It was getting colder; I could see my breath in front of me. I could feel how intensely he was studying me, trying to decipher the truth layered in my words. I didn’t mean to discourage the kid from the life he was choosing, but I didn’t want to leave him with any misconceptions why I was closing the door on that path.

“You’ll be back,” he declared with utmost finality.

“Maybe you’re right, but I have to try. I’ve got to prove to myself that, at least once, I tried to lead a normal life. So, take care of this city; she’s all yours now. I’ll see you on the other side.”





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