On the Mystery Train
The black train chugged to the station; its smoke curled and settled on the small Kansas town. There was no one waiting for passengers or luggage on the platform. The station house was dark and cold. The cry of the train as it pulled away woke a few of the lighter sleepers. They grumbled and went back to sleep.
There were no more trains and there were definitely no more steam engines running through this small town. The last one they had seen was in the late 1980s, pulling the last load and the last passengers. All of their food, clothing, and essentials came by trucks nowadays.
There were no more trains.
The train hissed and fussed like an old horse as Cathy had boarded that train. Cathy was smiled as the porter, an old black man, gave her a lift up the stairs. Her arthritis pain ached and she was grateful for the help. He put the her bag in a bin above her head and then tucked her blanket around her. The porter had a light scent of aftershave, which wafted to her nose. She let out a sigh and then turned her eyes back to the silent station.
She had wanted to leave her life behind. She had spent her life being a daughter, mother, and then caretaker. It had been too much when her husband had become a vegetable. When she had decided to allow the doctors to end his life, she felt that her life had ended too.
Her children, ungrateful brats, wanted the house. They wanted to put her in a nursing home. She had seen what happened to the old folks who lived in nursing homes. It was a mind and body killer. She wanted much more than that. It was her time to run away. So when the train pulled up to the old tracks at the back of the house, she grabbed her coat, a flashlight, and a bag.
The porter pulled a watch out of his waistcoat and checked the time.
“Where are we going?” she asked him.
“Ma’am,” he said. “To your destination.” Then he took a deep breath and yelled, “All aboard.” The train slid away from the station, slipped through the night sky, and vanished.
He tucked the blanket around her and she snuggled into it as her eyes drooped. Yes, her destination. She hoped it was better than the last one. She fell asleep listening to the clickety-clack of the train.
The next morning her children found her cold body tucked into her blankets with a smile on her face. Instead of wondering, they spent the rest of the day arguing over the estate. Not one of them noticed the slight smell of coal in the air.