“Not Today”

I show up at the train station every morning, in time for the 6:04 train. When it pulls into the station I do not get on, because I have nowhere to go and no one to visit. I try to catch someone’s attention to ask them if my package has arrived. In the early years, the conductors didn’t know what I was talking about. But with time, the railway personnel grew used to me hanging around the station, hat in hand, petitioning them, “Would you be so good as to look a second time, Kind Sir?”

It didn’t happen all at once, but over the years I have noticed a change in their manner toward me. A contrast began to build up in my mind between people who have work to do and people who hang around and are politely tolerated.

These days, the train no longer stops here, except on special occasions, and increasingly I don’t recognize the engineer, sitting in the locomotive’s cab in his black striped hat.

Now and then, one of the older engineers will be sitting at the controls and, turning in my direction, as the train pulls through at full speed, he may mouth the words, “Not today”. At such moments, I feel strengthened in my perseverance.

When I return each morning to Shady Acres Retirement Home and join my table for breakfast, if it’s been a cold morning outside, the woman who serves our table and who wears a burqa, will sometimes smile at me, as if she thinks I have been out doing Tai Chi or walking vigorously with my arms swinging.

She’s wrong about that, but she seems to understand me more than anyone else here, where I have lived for the past eleven years. I smile back to her, while thinking: I must remember to say goodbye to her when my package arrives.

4 comments to ““Not Today””
  1. Much of what is written these days is so violently sensational. I enjoy the way we are led gently and economically and compassionately into the world of the narrator.
    Like Vladimir and Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s seminal play WAITING FOR GODOT, life hinges on the arrival of…. what? What are our hopes, our dreams, our desires, our expectations? Do they come from far off? How will we know when they do arrive? Will we recognize the package if/when it does ever appear? Will we merely be disappointed with its content? How much of our present energy and attention is focused on some future event — vague though it may be? Is such a future focus necessarily a bad thing? Might it not be enough motivation to keep going? Do we need the promise of heaven?

  2. Thanks, Carol. The kudos of a writer of bold fictional visions of her own counts for something.

    Kip, you have raised my simple fable into a vision of life as we try to live it: with awareness, understanding and whatever implausible sincerity shows up. Your response was the package I didn’t know I was hoping to find.

  3. Hey, Michael, the second book in my Dreamwalkers trilogy is out now. Woo woo! Any interest in reading and reviewing? I do value your opinion. :))

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