Saturday, September 22, 2012

visit at a railroad crossing (Fiction Friday, a day late)

She heard the bells before she crested the hill to see the arms lowering, blocking access across the railroad tracks. She sighed and looked at the clock, wanting to be home now. She thought briefly about turning around and going the long way but decided that, while the movement might feel good, it would take just as long to drive around as it would for the train to pass. So, at the bottom of the hill, she turned off the engine and picked up her phone to send a text and let her daughter know she was running late.
She was surprised when she heard the passenger door open, but not startled. He sat down and closed the door.
“Don’t worry, she doesn’t even notice you’re not there. She’s texting her friend trying to find out what that boy she likes was saying about her in the cafeteria. Sad thing is, he wasn’t saying anything about her. Didn’t seem to notice her at all. Her friend is trying to say that in a way that makes her feel good.”
“Oh. What? How do you know? Who are you?”
Be nice to everybody, for he could be anybody.”
          "Father Barton."
          "I always liked him. And he always was, even when he didn't know."
“So, what’s today? Why now?”
“Today is Wednesday. Just an ordinary Wednesday.”
When he sat down in the car, she noticed his beard, the sort of beard her brother always wished he could grow, but couldn’t. His would stay patchy and ragged, but this beard was full and neat.
“Why didn’t you speed up when you heard the bells? You might have made it through.” He looked straight ahead as he talked, the way drivers do who are not in movies. She hated the way directors forgot their characters where supposed to be driving a car and let them take their eyes off the road for long stretches, until she added in a crash scene to the story line, knowing that had he really been driving downtown he would have hit something or someone by now.
“You know why,” she answered.
“Yeah, just the thought of it is gruesome. Still, lots of people take the chance. I’m glad you didn’t. Gives us a chance to catch up.”
“How are they?”
He paused, the slightest smile on his lips. “In love. It’s so beautiful to see. He waited there for her, you know. He watched her with such a look on his face. I went to him often so I could feel it too. Many times, he reached down to stroke her hair or touch her hand. She felt him. It’s why she refused treatment. She didn’t want to keep him waiting. They miss you all, but, well, they are together and that’s a better place to be. I rarely get to see such love. They’ve given me a gift.”
She smiled. She cried. “And you have given me one.”
She looked up when she heard the bells ringing to signal safe passage. By the time she turned her head to the passenger seat, he was already closing the door behind him, though she hadn’t noticed him getting up to go. She started the engine and drove the rest of the way home.


  1. I like your story - truly fiction? I wonder. I've had passengers like that.

  2. Well, I WAS stopped at the RR tracks, and I DID think about my parents then; but no physical visitation.
    Thanks for reading!