In the Train Station
Henry’s train had arrived early which meant he had a few extra minutes before his daughter would be there to pick him up. He knew she was concerned about his incident last week when he accidentally left the burner on. He had tried to explain to her over the phone that it was not a big deal and only an oven had mitt caught on fire, which he was able to put out on his own. But the word fire had scared her. She was already thinking about putting him in a home and he knew her spontaneous invitation for him to visit meant that him one. He didn’t want to think about that. He sat on the wooden bench closest to the door. When the electric doors slid open, mist from the ongoing rain blew against his face. He had a book in his brown leather briefcase, but had no interest in reading it. He sat alone observing the people around him. He watched as couples kissed goodbye and mother’s hugged their children before sending them to somewhere unknown to Henry. He remembered the first time he rode the train alone.
It had been his seventh birthday. He thought his mom was going to throw him a grand party where all his school friends would surprise him with presents, but when his birthday came his mother took him to the train station to visit his father. Henry and his dad had the same birthday, before his dad died of lung cancer. Henry saw his father three times a year; birthdays were one of those times. Henry loved his father, but this year he really wanted to spend his birthday with his friends. For the past two years, when Henry had to take the train to visit his dad, he asked his mother if he could ride alone. He had seen a girl about his age on the train by herself and desired to ride alone also. For Henry’s birthday, his mother decided that she would drop him off at the station instead of riding the train with him. Henry no longer liked the idea, but did not want to seem scared. So, when the time came to say goodbye he hugged his mother tightly and kissed her on the cheek without saying anything. He feared if he spoke he would cry.
He watched as business people walked with their heads high ignoring others around them. An old woman with a small white fluffy dog caught his eye. He stared as she fed the dog treats and pet its stomach. He smiled as the dog yipped and stood on its hind legs begging for more attention. He remembered his first dog.
He had returned home from spending his birthday with his dad. His mom met him in the same place she had dropped him off – underneath the giant clocks. He saw her bright yellow dress before he saw what she held in her arms. He took a few steps closer and then saw the black and brown puppy. The dog’s ears hung down framing its face and it chewed at his mother’s hand. Henry ran the last few feet to his mother and his new dog. His mother smiled and handed him his dog. Henry didn’t know what he was going to name the dog, but he knew he loved it.
Henry watched as a young man carrying a large duffle bag and wearing a backpack waved to people Henry couldn’t see. The boy boarded a train and Henry could hear a woman crying in the background. He thought it must have been the boy’s mother, but he could have been wrong. He heard the woman crying for a few minutes before he heard her high heels walk out the door. He had never turned to look at her.
Henry was eighteen when he left for college. His father had passed away the summer before which wasn’t as hard on Henry as he thought it would be. He packed all his belongings in two suitcases and his mom drove him to the train station. She walked with him until they stood underneath the giant clocks. His mom looked him in the eyes, but had to keep looking away so the tears would not begin to fall. He pulled a treat out of his back pocket and fed it to Rover and pet him on the top of his head “You’re such a good boy” he said. Henry knew this would be the last time he would be able to pet Rover as Rover was old and could hardly walk anymore. Henry hugged his mother tightly and kissed her on the cheek without saying anything. He feared if he spoke he would cry. He walked away without looking back.
The clocks chimed ten times and Henry stood up to leave. He opened his black umbrella and looked over at the big clocks and remembered the first time he arrived in the train station and his mother was not waiting for him.
He was working in Georgia when he got the call. He was sitting in his office filing his papers when the phone rang. “Hello” he had said not paying too much attention.
“Mr. Ross?” the voice on the other end of the phone asked.
“Yes” He answered.
“Mr. Ross, this is Dr. Carpenter. Your mother had an accident this morning and I advise that you come and see her as soon as you can. She is being taken care of, but we’re not sure how long she has left.”
“I understand.” He answered. “I will a catch a train tonight.” Henry’s mind went blank. He could hear the doctor, but felt empty. A sad kind of empty.
“Alright, Mr. Ross.”
“Oh, Ok” Henry didn’t know what he expected the doctor to say, but he thought he would have said more than “alright.”
“Is there anything else, Mr. Ross?”
“No, not that I can think of. Can you please give me the number to call if I need to talk to you or my mother?”
“Sure, Mr. Ross it’s 555-2317.”
“Is there anything else, Mr. Ross?”
“No. I guess that is it.”
Henry hung up the phone and picked up his brown leather briefcase.
When he arrived at the hospital his mother smiled a slight smile that Henry knew must have been hard for her. Henry hugged his mother tightly and kissed her on the cheek without saying anything. He feared if he spoke he would cry.
The electric doors slid open and Henry walked out into the rain leaving his brown leather briefcase behind.