By Lizette Vega
A man stood inside the depot watching the empty railroad tracks for the arrival of a train. He leaned forward looking into the sky for the smoke of a locomotive. It had been three years since his son started his service in the Railway Industry, and now he was coming home.
A cold metal bench facing the wall of windows looked uninviting, but it was either that or stand to wait. The father sat and dropped a newspaper on the seat next to him. The headline in all caps screamed: “MAN DEAD…”He grimaced.
The man pulled out his wallet and retrieved a photo from its sleeve. The father remembered the day his son met the beautiful girl. The young man fell for her quickly and moved away to get to know her. Sometime later, the couple married and lived happily.
But afterward, the bride suffered many things and started to blame her husband for everything wrong in her life. She began to doubt his love for her and dated other men. When that didn’t pan out, she started down a path of destruction. The father and his son knew if things did not turn around soon, she would lose her life for eternity.
The man replaced the photo in his wallet, as he recalled the late-night conversation with his son. After must debate he decided that the groom would need to do whatever it took to stop the young girl from ultimate ruin.
The father inhaled and blew out the air, slowly trying to catch his emotions before they leaked out. The gentleman closed his eyes as he remembered sending his son away to save his bride.
The sudden sound of footsteps snapped the man’s head up and brought him back to reality. As the man reached for the newspaper, someone sat on it. “Excuse me; you’re sitting on my paper.” A woman with a long, sculpted nose and a square furry hat sniffed at him and turned her head, unmoving. “Ma’am! You are on my paper!” He pointed at her bottom.
The woman rolled her eyes and scooched over a tad. “Ma’am, please?” Now she groaned and lifted one hip in the air, leaning to the side. The man carefully placed his hands on both sides of the article and yanked the Daily News out from under her.
He refolded his treasure and walked outside. The hollowness of the empty platform—felt like death. A small lean-to with a wood bench sat at the end of the sidewalk, at least it would be close enough to keep an eye on the train’s arrival. He jogged to the bench and dove for cover as the sky openedand sheets of water poured from the heavens.
The thin nose woman suddenly appeared next to him and cleared her throat. She shot him a sideways glance and then peeredstraight ahead. He moved over almost falling off the bench. They sat in silence for some time trying to avoid eye contact.
The lady gasped with emotion and yanked the snap of her purse opened allowing some of the items to drop out. She dug deep in her bag, shifting objects of all sizes and shapes back and forth. Finally, a crumpled, possibly used, tissue appeared in her hand, and she blew what was left of her surgically downsized nose as hard as she could.
“The girl on the tracks… was my daughter.” The mother turned her back to the guy and blew her nose again. She turned and pointed the finger at the photo of the young woman in the paper.
Surprised, the man sighed.
The woman cried uncontrollably. “I am…so…sorry,” she whispered.
The lady peered up at him then threw her arms around his chest. “Will you forgive her?
After a few moments, the mother sat up and focused ahead in the distance. She cleared her throat and pulled her coat around her neck tighter. “Wi–, um, will you tell me what happened?”
The father froze up. You don’t know?”
“Only bits and pieces.”
The man traced the edge of the paper and pulled it out from his coat once again. He placed it on the bench between them. The gentleman shot her a look and cleared his throat.
The lady looked down at her hands and picked off the nail polish on her thumb.
He gently tapped the paper between them. But the lady didn’t notice. She focused on the remaining traces of color on her nail. Suddenly, the woman sucked her thumb trying tobite off the polish.
The man frowned, looked at her, and cleared his throat again. Nothing. “Um, maybe you’d like to read the account yourself.”
She smirked, “I don’t read. It’s a waste of time.” The woman shrugged, then shot her forefingerin her mouth and started to bite off the polish on that digit. “Maybe you can read it to me?” she grinned sheepishly with red specks on her lips. “Please, I’d like to know.”
The father shifted. He picked up the paper and unfolded it. His hand fell on the words as if trying to transfer all the love and pain he was feeling to the text. “TheDaily News – January 12th…three days ago…”
“Can you skip to the interesting part?”
“This is a detailed report provided by HeraldCreed, the conductor of Amtrak’s Silver Surfer…” he swallowed, realizing the once thunderous voice he owned sounded like a four-year-old girl. “According to the conductor, the Pullman raced down the narrow tracks that wound around the mountainous terrain. That morning the train had run late, and itpicked up speed to keep on schedule. Theengineer suddenly noticed something in the road up ahead…”
The woman stopped chewing and put her hands on her lap. She didn’t look at him.
“The conductor reported that he could not make out the object…that lay…across—the tracks.” The man shot her a look. The mother slumped her shoulders and lowered her head.
“When the subject came into view, the engineer knew that the obstruction was not a thing, but a person…” the father tried to suppress the emotions that welled to his throat.
The mother placed a hand on his shoulder.
“At the speed the train moved a sudden stop would throw the locomotive off the rails, spilling all the passengers over the cliff. The engineer started to apply the brakes, as the conductor yanked the whistle again and again.
The men watched as the young woman on the railroad turned her head and faced them. For a moment her eyes met the conductor and then the engineer. The look of horrible regret came over her. She leaped up and started to run.
With no hill or shoulder to run on, the bride trekked down the tracks trying to outrun the already accelerated engine beginning its descent down the mountain.” The father paused.
The mother hugged her purse to her chest and started to rock back and forth. She watched as a tear rolled down the side of the father’s eyes, down his face and onto his hand. He The father closed his fist around the drop as if tohold onto every tear as a remembrance.
The father continued reading, “The following is a recap of the conversation between the engineer and the conductor:
‘We have to stop!’
‘It will take too long at this speed!’ The engineer applied the brake again—minimally.
‘She’s not going to outpace us!’ The conductor pulled out his manual and started to read. ‘We have to wake up the passengers and prepare them for their death.’ Reports say the conductor left the engineer alone for some time and when he returned the engineer appeared to be praying.
The engineer switched the train in autopilot, stood erect and slid the cab door opened. He then crawled out of the cab and shuffled to the nose of the iron horse.
‘No! Don’t do it!’ The conductor yelled. ‘You’re going to die!’
The groom turned to the conductor with tears in his eyes and said, ‘I came here to save her… she’s my bride…and I love her.’”
The older woman gasped.
“The train caught up to the young woman. The bumper licked her heels. The bride looked over her shoulder and then screamed, ‘Save Me!’ She stopped and reached out to the engineer as he leaped off the nose of the train. The couple tumbled off the tracks and hurled down the cliffs. The engineer died sacrificing himself for everyone on board the train, and his bride.”
The man closed the paper and slid it back inside his coat pocket. “My son is coming home today.” The father stood and walked out of the lean-to.
The mother buried her face in her hands.
Aloud whistle blew and startled the parents. They stood as the train slowed to a stop in front of them. “The Heaven Bound” destination indicator flickered. The man wiped his eyes, forgetting the woman who stood right behind him.
Within moments, a young, vibrant man, who walked with a limp, hopped off the train and embraced his father. Over his father’s shoulder, the engineer glimpse at the woman. “Mrs. Saint…” he extended his hand towards her. She noticed scars on his wrists.
“Hel-lo,” she sobbed uncontrollably.
The young man held her, and they cried.
“I-I-m sorry, I don’t know why she doubted you.” The woman swayed. The father caught her and moved her back to the bench. “Wait! If you’re here, then she has to be here too!” She smiled andstarted to run.
The father caught her shoulder and stopped her. “No, your daughter lives. She’s in the hospital on life support.”
The whistle blew again as a porter stepped on the platform and yelled, “All aboard heading Heavenward!”
“What do I do?” the woman yelled.
The groom put his arm around her and said, “Ma’am, come with us; my bride will join us soon enough.”
Both the father and the son embraced the woman and helped her onto the train.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16