“Here comes the train,” she yelled, pulling my hand, “We’re gonna miss it if we don’t run!” It was a nice summer day. The birds were chirping, the sun was high in the sky, and it was warm but not too hot. My overalls were a jingling as we ran across the platform, which was packed with people taller than me. Why so many coats? It was a great day for shorts and a t-shirt, and all these people were wearing coats.

“Where’s dad?” I wondered aloud.

“Daddy’s at home sweetie” Mom was panting. The tiles on the floor sped passed me as we ran. It kind of looked like a streak of a rainbow.

“No he’s not! I just saw him!” How had she not see him earlier? He was getting out of the car in the parking lot while the train was pulling up. Mom stopped short, we were 10 feet from the train. I could see the ticket taker smiling at us. Mom turned back to me, and knelt to look right in my eyes. I shifted mine to the ground.

“Honey, are you sure you saw daddy? Where did you see him?”

“He was getting out of the car just a few minutes ago,” I pointed in the direction of the parking lot. Her face froze. She glanced up at the people around her, then looked back at me and smiled.

“He’s probably just coming to wave goodbye, sweetie. Can you wait here with our bags? I’m going to go ask the ticket taker a question.” I frowned at her, but she squeezed my hand and I felt that made me feel proud. I got to watch the bags. Mom stood up, and walked over to the ticket taker. She was moving her hands. His face slowly went from a chipper smile to something a little more solemn. He looked at her, then over to me, then back to her, and he nodded quickly, then walked off. Mom walked back over to me.

“Can we get on the train now?” I asked. Mom smiled at me.

“Yes! Lets go!” She grabbed her bag and my hand and we walked over to the train. It was a huge train, with green and red colors, and a little painted wreath! I was so excited. Mom had told me we were going to stay with Aunt Em for this holiday! There were three large steps we had to go up to get inside. It was cool, but not cold inside. Very nice, just outside. We hadn’t even sat down when the train started moving.

“Where’s dad?” I asked again.

“Keep your eyes out! He’s probably coming to say goodbye!” My mom said with a slight quiver in her voice. I panned through the crowd with my eyes looking for him. Then I saw him. He was pushing through people with his eyes on our train. I stood up in my seat and put my hands on the window, waving to him fervently.

“I see him!” I exclaimed to mom, then I yelled “Bye dad!” through the window. I smiled happily. I was so happy he came to the station, especially since we didn’t get to say goodbye to him at home. He finally caught my eye. He had a very serious expression on his face, and he was pushing and shoving through the crowd.

“Sit down sweetie,” said my mom.

“But I want to say bye to dad! Why isn’t he coming?”

“Dad isn’t coming because…” She trailed off, took a deep, shaky breath, then said “Dad isn’t coming because he has to work.”

“But I thought dad didn’t have a job.”

“Well, he does. He got hired the other day.”

“Oh. Ok.” I turned back to the window. “Good luck on your job dad! I love you!” He was still chasing after us. He looked back up at me and smiled. There were tears in his eyes. Why were there tears in his eyes? Dad never cried. As the station platform ran out, he slowed down and started to fall behind. Then he stopped completely and waved at me. I kept my eyes on him, still waving. I could just make out a lone tear flow down the side of his face, before he rubbed his eyes and smiled again. I kept my eyes on his smile until I couldn’t see him anymore, and the station fell into the distance.

“Sit down now sweetie.” I sat down, and looked at my fingers. There was an empty pit in the base of my stomach. I laid down on the train bench. The red booth seats were very comfortable. I closed my eyes to beat back tears, which had come unbidden to my eyes. Why was I sad? I pictured my dad, the smile on his face, and the determination on his face, and drifted off into a deep sleep.



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Published by Cassady O'Reilly-Hahn