that man

The double -clicking of the Pullman’s wheels
slowed as the train approached the station;
only then did he realize his pulse was accelerating.
Would it follow that when the train stopped
his heart would burst like an Axis grenade
in this peaceful land? As he reached into the
overhead rack for his kit bag, he saw the
little rapids that ran down the slope beside
the tracks. He used to fish off the trestle
just down the rails and around the bend.
People smiled as he and the other servicemen
made their way down the aisle. He could hear
the porter opening the door and steps to the
approaching station platform. Soon, the train
glided to a stop and the vibration of travel ended.
He stepped off into a blast of white steam
that was as obscuring as the people on the platform:
he was looking for her and the children, wondering—
well, knowing— that they would remember.
He caught a glimpse through the shoulders, backs
elbows, and hats and rucksacks, couples kissing.
It could hardly be them: the children were so tall
and she seemed so short— and so old and strange.
She looked so different in that lipstick, and her hair
had never looked that way before: so wavy and
artificial. Suddenly, he was hugging her and she
seemed so light, as if she might blow away or he
might crush her. In the bus on the way back to
town, he placed his officer’s hat on his daughter’s
head. As she looked at her mother, her face bloomed
into a smile as she said, “Mamma, that man
put his hat on me!”

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About riverwriter

Poet, playwright, duplicate bridge player, website designer, cottager, husband, father, grandfather, former athlete, carpenter, computer helper for my friends, theatre designer, backstage polymath, retired teacher of highschool English, drama, art, a baritone singer in a barbershop quartet, who knows what else? wordcurrents is on Facebook: Doug also has a Facebook page, "Incognitio", related to his novels.
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