Waiting For The Train
The clock struck one.
I heard the tall grandfather clock chime one time, my signal that the train I was waiting for should be arriving any minute. I adjusted the frilly skirt of my dress and tied my bonnet tightly around my head because it had fallen and was hanging limp around my neck, but I had to be especially careful not to ruin the hair that my mother had twisted into ringlets especially for today's important occasion.
It was a Sunday afternoon in the southern part of the state of Georgia. The sun was shining, beating down upon the train platform with a vengeance. I could feel the heat in the air around me as it smothered everyone in its path, taking away any sort of cool breeze that could have acted as a saving grace on a day like today. I slowly fanned myself, always the picture of a lady, even though inside I wanted to scream how hot it was and pull off my suffocating dress in front of all of these people.
Today was the day I would finally meet my soon-to-be husband. We had an arranged marriage, decided by my parents and his after the war was over. You see, he was from the North and I am definitely a belle from the South, so it was a sort of unspoken peace agreement between our families to get married and put the war aside and become one again.
His name was David, and that was all I knew. When I thought about how ridiculous it was that I was to be married to someone and I only knew his first name, I almost laughed, until I remembered that all he knows about me is that my name is Laura. We are in the same boat together. The hardest part was not knowing whether he would be resigned to marrying me or he could maybe genuinely come to love me.
I've always dreamed about love, and romance, and being swept off of my feet. It was maybe a fantasy of some kind because I knew I would never be able to choose who I would get to marry. The very notion of having the right to do so was utterly insane for a girl of my age and societal standing. When my mother had sent me to the train station this morning, she reminded me of my family and how I had made a commitment (even though technically, I hadn't committed to anything) to give up my heart to this perfect stranger. She made sure that I would be the perfect, obedient wife that a southern girl was supposed to be and then sent me on my way. Her daughter was finally someone else's responsibility. After all, isn't that the moment that all mothers waited for, to give up their daughters to be married?
My hands were shaking with nervousness suddenly, and I could feel the butterflies building in my stomach. I thought that I was going to be sick for a moment. Here I was, waiting for the one o'clock train, about to completely give up my heart, my life, and my free will to someone that I've never laid eyes upon. I would do what I had to do for my family; there was no question about it, but I was still absolutely terrified to do so.
Suddenly, we heard the far off whistle of the train in the distance. Slowly but surely, it came around the curve and rumbling up the track, sending puffs of black smoke into the air and everyone scurrying towards the place where everyone would debark. It was finally here, the moment of truth. There was no going back now.
The conductor slammed on the brakes, so the train came screeching to a halt. I covered my ears at the high-pitched whine it made. I knew it wasn't exactly lady-like to do so, but it was so loud that I did it based on instinct and not what I had been taught. The train door slowly popped open and released a flood of people onto the platform. I had no way of knowing which man was meant for me, so I stayed seated and waited for someone to appear and acknowledge me.
A man in a blue coat with brass buttons suddenly appeared in front of me, and I immediately knew he was from the North because he smelled of factory smoke and was wearing a blue soldier's coat. I slowly looked up to the face of a man with light blonde hair and gorgeous blue eyes. Suddenly, my heart skipped a beat and I had to restrain myself from gasping out loud.
"David?" I asked hesitantly before instantly covering my mouth in horror. He was supposed to address me first; I had already ruined it, but I couldn't bear to keep silent. The David standing in front of me had a smile that was simply unforgettable. Dimples played along the edges of his mouth and his entire face was bright with joy while mine was covered in confusion. This David and I had played together when we were kids; he was a good friend of the family until they left to travel to the North for work. I couldn't believe my eyes because I never thought I would see him again, and I didn't understand how this could possibly be happening. I blinked several times, trying to keep from letting my mouth obviously hang open in wonder. "Is it really you?"
To my astounding relief, he laughed. It was a beautiful sound, filling the platform with something that was like music to my ears. It made the hot, stuffy air feel so much lighter and easier to manage and brought a huge weight from off my shoulders.
"Laura, you were always a smart girl," he said, bowing politely and offering me his hand, confirming my suspicion that it was in fact my David. His voice was deeper, and he had definitely grown up well considering the handsome scruff that finished his face and the wall of muscle that was his chest. "How could you have not figured it out by now?"
"Wait, you knew? This whole time, you knew that they were planning to marry us?" I stuttered, disbelief evident in my tone.
"Do you remember when I left when we were children?" he questioned, forcing me to recall that day when Mother and Father told me it was time to say goodbye. I slowly nodded, and he continued. "When I got in the carriage and we were riding away, I called something back at you, but you couldn't hear me."
Understanding slowly spread across my features. "I remember now," I admitted quietly. "I cried because I thought I would never know what you said."
"I screamed that I'd come back for you," he said, stretching his arms out wide to gesture to the land around him. My heart was pounding in my chest and excitement filled my heart as I realized what he just said. "I always knew, one way or another, I would find my way back to Georgia and to you."
*Authors Note: I stepped out of my comfort zone with the language and descriptions in this piece. Please let me know what y'all think of the change! I hope you liked it! xx, Sarah