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When I was young my father once took me to see an old train which was kept as a kind of historic relic at the train yard.
In those days that sort of trip was exciting, because my father was rarely at home or able to spend time with me. He was a travelling salesman, always on the road.
“Come see a train, son,” he said. “Like ones I might have travelled on for my job if we lived about a century ago.”
And so I went with him, eager to see what he saw in such history. I wanted to be like him back then. Perhaps I still do.
All I know is I miss him, and it all goes back to then, that day. Because after that it wasn’t his job that kept him away.
The train itself at first just seemed old and run down. He told me about how beautiful it would have been, back in the day. How wealthy clients would sit in first class and drink fine wine while it took them to places unseen and destinations dreamed of, all through the glorious night. And because he was a fine salesman and an even finer storyteller, he made it sound magical.
Perhaps it was.
For as he spoke it did seem to shimmer somehow, and for a few brief moments I literally saw it transformed. I saw the carriage and the rich elite. I saw them enjoying the beauty of the night. I saw them so alive, even though it was so long ago. And I think my father did too, for his glorious voice stopped talking for a moment and we just witnessed the past come to life.
We saw it all. But you see, they saw us too. or my father at least. I saw one woman in particular turn and see my father, and he was a handsome man and she looked like a lonely woman. And she beckoned to him in a coquettish manner that was wrong for her age for she was a bit too old for that. And a bit too old for my dad.
But that didn’t matter. He stepped towards her, like he was hypnotised, and the world shuddered and then they were gone. And he was gone with them.
I ran through the carriages, calling for him for what seemed like hours. I tried to tell his stories to the air to call them back, to call him back. But I was my father’s son and not my father, and I didn’t have his skill.
I finally fell to my knees crying for a loss I could barely comprehend. This damnable train and its damnable woman. Too late, too late. He was gone.
(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018