The Train station
A very short story by Moshe Pavel Shelest
A man was sitting at the train station, a lonely old man. He was waiting for his train to come, or at least it seemed to me, when I saw him every morning on my way to work, and every evening on my way back home. Through rain, snow, sun and blizzard he sat there, he waited for his train to come.
For a long time he was the one mystery worth unraveling in my life, he reminded me of my own father who was about the same age. And so because of the old man, I started visiting my father in the retirement castle again. The visits I didn’t go to because I felt that I had no time on my busy schedule, but the man somehow changed my way of thinking, so I began to visit my father again. And on one of those visits I asked my father what he thought the man was doing. But he simply answered: “Go talk to him, fool; find out what he is doing there, how am I supposed to know?”
Weeks, passed and my interest in him subdued, but once on a dreadfully hot afternoon I saw him and for the first time noticed that the man was still in the same horrible brown suit he was the day before, in fact; he was wearing the same clothes all this time, how didn’t I notice this?! And then I decided that it was time to ask him, to talk to him. I came up to him, sat on the bench on which he was sitting, (the bench who nobody sat on except him, even when there was nowhere else where to sit) and said to him: “Excuse me, excuse me…., do you hear me?”-“Yes, I hear you idiot, now leave me alone, I’m busy!”……. “I am sorry, but… it’s just…. You sat here for months already. And I wanted to ask you what train are you waiting for? Or maybe you are waiting for a person. Please tell, I am genuinely and very much so interested in your story.”- A long pause followed, I waited patiently, so patiently the train I needed passed, thrice. But in the end he answered: “A TRAIN YOU ARE TO YOUNG AND TOO COWARDLY TO GET ON!”
I came very late that night, and when I got there, I had a hard time explaining the reason for my late coming to my wife. Those were the last words I ever heard from him. For a long time my curiosity was quieted, for to me it seemed that the old men was not a mystery worth knowing after all, he was an just old and deranged man after all. I even forgot about him, and stopped noticing him for a long time, for months actually.
Winter came, and I noticed a change, a change in the train station. Something was missing, and everybody felt it. I did not have the time nor the will to try and understand what was missing so I just went on with my life again. But in a month it became unbearable, something has changed, but what nobody knew. And I thought of the old man again; “he is here all the time, maybe he knows what is happening here?” I came to him, but he wasn’t there, and then I understood: he is what’s changed; his absence is the eerie change nobody could catch on but which everybody felt on their skins. I sat down on his bench, and silence, nothing happened of course, and the first thought was: The old man’s train came, eh? I got ready to leave but by accident found a diary, his diary on the bench:
My wife is gone. My lovely wife, my guard angel, who followed me through all my life, the flower and pillar of my whole existence, is gone home, where I can’t come. I don’t know how to continue, I am lost. The psychologist said to write a diary, he said that it would help me through the time of loneliness. He also said that it would create a simulation of a real conversation. Only that diaries DO NOT TALK BACK! YOU DO NOT TALK BACK, EH. STUPID DIARY!!!
Winter came and left and OK, I decided to come back to writing, as I have nothing else to do. But I have nothing to write either, exempt to tell you, diary, how miserable my life is. But I will not do that, instead I decided that I need to go home. Back home, where my wife, my lovely wife already awaits me. Home, where the sun is shining, where the wind is blowing, there I want to be. Home where I came finally take my wife in an embrace.
But the Lord will not let me. Says “It’s too early for you, Jake, take your time, and don’t worry I will get you home.” But I do not want to wait, DO YOU HEAR ME LORD!!! I want to go now, but he doesn’t let me. I will show him! I will not move, I will get to the train station and wait for my train to come and take me home!
For a year now, all I do is sit and wait for the train to come. But the Lords knows what I am doing, and does not let the train come, even though all I do is sit, I do not eat nor drink, and still the train won’t come. A young man came to me today; he asked me what I was doing. He was patient enough, and so I told him that I am waiting for the train home, a train which he is too young and cowardly to board.
The train came!!! IT CAME, THE GOLDEN TRAIN HOME! GOOD BYE DIARY, GOOD BYE CRUEL WORLD!!!
With that the diary ended, I didn’t know what to say or think about it. I put the diary in my backpack, and was about to stand up when I saw it, but fell down from shock. And looked around to see if somebody was seeing what I just saw, but no nobody even so much as looked into the direction of the body on the railways, squashed many times by many trains, of the body in the horrible brown suit. I suddenly realized what it meant: The man went home; he went to heaven, to meet his wife again. And I was the only one seeing the body. I climbed down to pick the body up, the people on the train station began yelling at me for stepping down the railways, but I quickly climbed up and only then they seemed to understand what happened. They understood what happened to the old man, and to their station. The body somehow regenerated itself the moment touched it, it was not touched by any animals, and even the trains seemed not to make any difference. I decided to get the body to the nearest graveyard, when I came to the administrator so as to ask him if he knew a certain, “Margarita Schwarz” he told me: “Why, yes she is buried here for a year already.” – “Why do you remember her, isn’t this graveyard the biggest in town?” – “Yes, believe me I don’t know 1 percent of those buried here, it’s just the story behind her that made her unforgettable. You see, when she died her husband requested a double grave, for her and himself, but usually when such requests are made, they ask for a preparation for the other grave only. So that when the spouse dies there will be room for his grave. But this time he asked for a ready grave with a tomb inside it for him. Eh, why do you ask anyways? Are you related?” – “No, I’ve come to bring the body” Silence filled the room, then the administrator said: “Well he told us about such a possibility, that somebody might just bring his body in. Where is it?”
The body was buried in the graveyard, and his diary I buried in my garden. Above the diary a flower blossomed every day, which I brought to the grave of the old man. His memory I shouldn’t forget, but I couldn’t spread it either. So I swore to keep it for as long as am alive.
The train station forgot the man, and continued to live as though nothing ever happened.