Response: On Track
The tracks cut my bare feet, though not as much as the rocks along the path had. The open scrapes cringed against the splintery wood and cold iron ties. And it hurt more than I had expected. I had not expected anything to hurt again. Not even bleeding.
I looked down the long line of parallel tracks. It seemed so far - so far to the next tie, to the next signal. It seemed so far to the next town. And he was already half a world away.
He had told me not to fall apart. He had warned me teasingly, mussing my hair like he did when he picked up his niece, not to fall apart. He told me I had to be waiting for him to come back. He swore he would come back.
The lofty trees smudged as I started to cry. I knew he was not coming back. The train had swallowed him whole and, when he reached his destination there would be no way to return.
I knew that when he got off the train he would be dead. I knew the men who had gone with him - all stiff and nervous in their uniforms as new soldiers always were - would be dead before winter had time to block the tracks. And he with them.
Down the line I could hear the train coming. I watched the leaves fall and knew I should move off the tracks.
The train whistle shrieked and I turned to see the monster barreling toward me. I did not want to get off the tracks. I opened my arms to embrace the metal giant.
And it came upon me. I could hear it - like it was the only thing that existed.
I heard his voice and saw his face and I cried. "You have to be here waiting for me when I get back."
I stepped off the tracks and the train rumbled past, blowing my hair around my face like a hurricane. The cars made their clacking noise as they passed.
I wondered whose soldiers were speeding past me. And I cried for them and the girls waiting for them. And I cried for him.