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5th February
posted by amber

The Night Train

There is nothing besides the rushing motion, clattering and jerking, and the yard lights of isolated farmsteads and midnight drivers. Inside the car, coughs and moans and snores, low conversation and tinny earphone music from those who’ve decided not to try to sleep. The prairie rushes by outside the window, snow a pale pearly grey beneath the shuttered moon.

The conductor has done this a million times. He’s heard all the stories – the grandchildren, now grandparents themselves, of old time train men, the ones afraid to fly, the ones who board and disembark at places too small to have an airport, the students, the smokers and dog owners who get off the train whenever it stops, no matter how briefly, no matter how late.

He’s answered the same questions over and over again, he’s heard all the strange requests and two a.m. confessions.

He’s tired.

He’d like to sit, like some of the passengers do, letting his eyes drink in the vast landscape sliding by outside and allow it to empty his mind of care. He’d like to be jolly in the bar car, no rein on his conviviality, no one to care if he stumbles and weaves on his way back to his bunk.

Forty years ago, when he started this job, that’s what he expected – to be travelling on a train.

But lately, he’s come to realize – it’s never going to happen.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story. If you’d like me to use your name in a story, I’d be happy to do that.

I just took the train from Hinton to Winnipeg, so you can imagine what inspired this story…

1 Comment

  1. mary bond

    The predicament of the worker on the train and wish is right up there with mine when I used to work at the Black Cat Ranch. It would be so nice to go to a nice guest ranch just as a guest and not as an owner on whom so many cares and burdens fall.
    From your Mom and one who understands all you and Perry have taken on over the years.

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