Peter L. Barnes
The girl looked out over the swift flowing river, as raindrops tumbled out of the sky, creating crowns of glory, as they crashed into the water. Mayflies, hit by the sudden downpour, plunged into the water, only to be gobbled up by the ravenous school of trout, delighted at the unexpected windfall.
She surveyed the old tumbledown station behind her and the forlorn space, where once, twin tracks of freedom and travel lay, bringing monsters of metal, surrounded by steam and smoke and their greasy drivers. Cracked and worn platforms beneath her feet, where once upon a time, happy holiday makers, full of excitement and laughter, had once disembarked for their summer holidays.
No hustle and bustle today, even the birds had fallen silent, hiding amongst the larger leaves attempting to keep their feathers dry, until the storm passed over. The girl’s large brimmed hat dripped water in a circle around her feet, before running down the cracks and over the platform edge. The faintest blodges of white paint remained, long past the time when pristine lines once warned passengers not to get too close.
The rain turned into hail and Kathy moved back under a canopy that was growing over her head. The hailstones became larger and larger but now in a narrow band along the disused track and the edge of the platform. The noise level increased as the hailstones turned to granite, hammering into the thin area in front of the platform, becoming the full ballast that would be needed for the track. The noise of the falling stones stopped, to be replaced by the heavy crunch of sleeper logs dropping into place, one by one as they slammed into the ballast. Metal on metal clanking reached Kathy’s ears as two rods of steel approached, hammered into the sleepers and screwed down. Shiny rods of rail track stopped past the end of the platform and huge buffers with new shiny red paint, solidified at the terminus of the line. A gantry with green signals appeared on the far corner of the track and at a road crossing an old car was stopped from crossing.
“Are you waiting for the train?” asked a rumbling voice from behind her.
She spun around to find a concerned gentleman, holding up a brightly coloured umbrella to protect his perfect station masters uniform. A peaked cap with a red band, navy blue coat with bright buttons in two rows down the front. Kathy could see that the station was now far from the dilapidated building she had found when she first arrived. A row of lamps, now lit because of the dark thunderstorm; pretty green doors and perfect white writing on all the signs. Waiting Room, Ticket Office, Exit, Ladies and Gents, proclaimed the signs. A new clock proclaiming the time of 6.31, ticked loudly for the first time.
“I’d have to wait for a long time, wouldn’t I?” said Kathy.
“Sadly yes. Beecham and the car have certainly spoilt the romance of travelling,” said the stationmaster. “George by the way.”
“Kathy. Nice to meet you,” said Kathy. “Writers made the most of unexpected meetings of strangers on long journeys, leading to romance or maybe just lustful encounters.”
“There are lots of love stories set on trains it’s true,” said George. “But think how many murder stories were set on train journeys, especially Agatha’s novels.”
“Well I suppose she had many journeys on the trains to and from Devon.”
Talking of which, a whistle in the far distance heralded the arrival of the 2.45 from Paddington. The station and its surrounds were now fully restored, complete with colourful flower beds and new posters welcoming guests to the mini Riviera of England.
Because of copywrite in fringements, you’ll have to buy the book once published to read more.
©Peter Barnett 2018