On the Mystery Train
The black train chugged to the station; its smoke curled and settled on the small Kansas town. There was no one waiting for passengers or luggage on the platform. The station house was dark and cold. The cry of the train as it pulled away woke a few of the lighter sleepers. They grumbled and went back to sleep.
There were no more trains and there were definitely no more steam engines running through this small town. The last one they had seen was in the late 1980s, pulling the last load and the last passengers. All of their food, clothing, and essentials came by trucks nowadays.
There were no more trains.
The train hissed and fussed like an old horse as Cathy had boarded that train. Cathy was smiled as the porter, an old black man, gave her a lift up the stairs. Her arthritis pain ached and she was grateful for the help. He put the her bag in a bin above her head and then tucked her blanket around her. The porter had a light scent of aftershave, which wafted to her nose. She let out a sigh and then turned her eyes back to the silent station.
She had wanted to leave her life behind. She had spent her life being a daughter, mother, and then caretaker. It had been too much when her husband had become a vegetable. When she had decided to allow the doctors to end his life, she felt that her life had ended too.
Her children, ungrateful brats, wanted the house. They wanted to put her in a nursing home. She had seen what happened to the old folks who lived in nursing homes. It was a mind and body killer. She wanted much more than that. It was her time to run away. So when the train pulled up to the old tracks at the back of the house, she grabbed her coat, a flashlight, and a bag.
The porter pulled a watch out of his waistcoat and checked the time.
“Where are we going?” she asked him.
“Ma’am,” he said. “To your destination.” Then he took a deep breath and yelled, “All aboard.” The train slid away from the station, slipped through the night sky, and vanished.
He tucked the blanket around her and she snuggled into it as her eyes drooped. Yes, her destination. She hoped it was better than the last one. She fell asleep listening to the clickety-clack of the train.
The next morning her children found her cold body tucked into her blankets with a smile on her face. Instead of wondering, they spent the rest of the day arguing over the estate. Not one of them noticed the slight smell of coal in the air.
We sprang forward on Sunday for the continuing saga of DST or Daylight Savings Time. Seriously, if someone wanted to screw with our sleep schedules more, this is the perfect program to do that. I normally go to bed at 10 p.m. and wake at 7 a.m. I have had this sleep schedule for years. Even when I moved to South Africa or Panama and didn’t have a crazy work schedule, I would default to that sleep schedule.
I didn’t realize how tyrannical “spring forward, fall back” was until I lived in a country where it wasn’t used. It was then that I suspected that the whole reason for using DST was to keep us so sleep-deprived that we wouldn’t be interested in politics. I use the general term politics because the ideas have seeped into schools, churches, and our everyday institutions. Some of these ideas are being forced into our everyday shopping establishments – grocery stores and so forth.
I have gotten so sleep-deprived this cycle, that I wondered at 3 a.m. (which would have been 4 a.m. or was it 2 a.m.) whether DST was a first step to take over the world. The reasons for using DST are pretty much invalid now. And if you think DST is “for the children,” then you haven’t been listening. Sleep-deprivation causes mental and physical damage. Sleep-deprivation has been linked to gaining weight.
If I ever run for elected office (I was born outside the US although both parents are US citizens so it won’t be president), I will bring the matter of DST to the public and on the table. Let’s start with this anachronism. Let us get regular sleep so our brains can think clearly.
It was another shock to hear of the passing of Leonard Nimoy yesterday. Another icon of SF&F has gone to the Great Beyond. I am not a cosplay or con rat. I spent most of my adult life either in the Navy, following the military, or recovering from a disease that could have been caused by my service. However, when I was a child, I saw the landing on the moon.
Plus when we lived near my grandparents, the entire family including aunts, uncles, and cousins would come together to eat dinner and watch TV shows like Star Trek and Mission Impossible. While the others in the family cheered on Kirk and his solutions, I privately enjoyed the logic of the half-human Spock.
He played the outsider, the observer of humans and human nature, while not quite being one of them. I knew then that Spock was a representative of me. I didn’t feel alone anymore.
So long, and thanks for all the fish. (Douglas Adams)
Each day is another day without him. I keep touching that wound in my heart because I know from experience that if I keep examining it, then it will heal faster. This is not like a physical wound… where you keep from picking the scab. A spiritual wound is much different.
I have said before that the internet is a boon to introverts and writers. I am both.
I can scream my despair and sometimes my joy to the voice of my imagination and a little voice will speak back to me. It can be very comforting. In my experience there are people who lie to your face and look like they are telling the truth. Most people don’t bother to show that mask on the internet. Yes, there are deliberate lies floating around in the ones and zeros that make up the digital sea. But I have found that the majority of voices out there have found anonymity so they say what they want to say without the social constructs.
I am not saying that it is the greatest of outcomes. I do know that the lies are the ones you are telling yourself. You tell me your truth. I tell you mine.
I discovered yesterday that one of my new friend’s old friends is on the last legs of fighting cancer. I felt sadness for my friend because I am already past that point and am forging into a territory of living without– the smiles, glances, hugs, and love.
I was told once that we have the little deaths – dogs, cats, and other pets– so that we are ready for the ones that knock us on our ass. Its not true. If you love that other person and if they are a part of your daily life, then that death will always knock you on your ass.
So I pick at my wound. The twinges become less. I even have some new interests. I put up that hummingbird feeder and now one of the little ones have come to feed. I take Foxy, the chihuahua friend, for a walk and clean up after her. She sits at my feet and sometimes on my lap.
I am cross-stitching and writing. Plus I watched some folks playing pool and shooting arrows. Not at the same place of course. Although I might want to watch that… a new sport, if you miss a shot, then someone shoots an arrow at you.
This morning, I made coffee, walked the dog, and sat down in front of the computer for a facebook binge. Part of the problem that I have lately is that I escape into facebook and talk to other people who are writing or having problems. I use social networking instead of writing. I need to change that.
In my most productive writing period. I had a whiteboard with the name of the novel and the chapters. I would write down what came next etc, etc. Then I had my rituals to get me into the trance-like state that I called writing.
These were my writing rituals–
1. Have a cup of coffee where I could sip
2. Light a candle, preferably one with scent
3. Turn on some writing music
4. Do a ten minutes clean out my mind by writing. Usually using a pen and paper. I can complain and bellyache all I want. These pieces of paper can be shredded later.
5. I check over what I wrote last and then start writing. Usually by this time I can see, feel, smell, and sometimes taste the story.
6. After an hour, I would come back from the story and do something around the house.
7. Sometimes I would go back to the story, but other times I would do other jobs that were piling up.
It’s been hard to get back into a daily routine where my writing is concerned. I have had two appointments a week (including blood work, doctor’s appointments, X-rays, physical therapy, etc. etc) for a few months. They become distractions after awhile even though I need to stay well. They also interrupt my writing.
So time to go back to one day at a time and one step at a time.