The coal train meandered by.
Locking her eyes on the rail she could see an occasional spark.
It was hot.
Mallow grew alongside the route. Yellow orbs too delicate to be there opening their souls to the sun. Yet, there they were.
She leaned back against the tree that also somehow survived surrounded by dry brittle grass and weeds. Curling ends beggared of water from the last spring rain.
The train continued on.
Closing her eyes to barely a squint she was able to merge the spinning wheels until it looked as if the train was floating on some kind of magic heat rising above its rails, making it stand still. All that iron and power just floating motionless.
In each window was a face looking at her, just staring as if they had something to tell her. A wistful look. A veneer of gloom. There was fear. Anger. Each mask holding their story that somehow was hers now.
The alarm on her phone buzzed.
The end of the train passed and she watched the last face, gentle and perfectly framed in the back window, fade away.
The walk back to the abandoned house was through the old fields that once held crops to feed hungry bellies. About an hour’s walk from the tree would find her feet planted on the porch. The paint, if there ever was any, was long faded away. Only an ashen grey lingered.
This was all hers now. The house. The land of anecdotal crops.
The railroad held the only easement between her and the next homestead, also abandoned.
She didn’t want it.
She was of water and ocean and floating. She was of horizon that met sky where sun and moon each in their own time would rise and fall. She was of sea wind that carried story.
She was not of this place. Or at least she didn’t think so.
The man at the gas station had given her a watermelon. She had no idea why or where he had gotten it. But she was glad it was waiting for her on the table.
The inside of the house was decorated with spider webs, dust, and time.
The table wobbled but she was sure it wasn’t from neglect. It had been made that way. She propped it up with a flat stone she found near the fireplace. She traced her finger around a small indentation. It was a perfect fit.
She was hungry and tired. And thirsty.
There was only one way into that globe of pleasure. On the ledge under the once glazed window that looked out to the railroad tracks was another stone. It was slightly larger than her hand with a carved point on one edge. It had to have been carefully chipped and formed for its purpose. There was a swirl with a line that would sit next to her palm. This, too, was intentional.
Raising the rock above her head and holding it with both hands, she brought it down with all her might into the center of the watermelon.
The sidewalk. The burning asphalt. The push. The crash. The blood spatter across her jacket. There were screams and everything blurred, sounds, people, hands pulling her back in slow motion like the wheels of the train. Only she was the motionless object, floating above him.
Or rather, what was left of him…
. . . . .
It is always sacred time when our writing group meets. There were nine of us today at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Our warmup write morphed from a practice I learned in a class at the Denver Lighthouse Writers Workshop.
We each started with a small blank piece of paper. We were to write one quick sentence on it describing something we experienced that morning. The trick is not to think too much. Not to try to be cleaver or descriptive. Just write. We passed the paper to our right and wrote one word that came to us about the gardens. Passed again – one verb. Passed again – another word. Passed a last time – an emotion. As we gathered our drinks and settled, we could chose which prompt paper we wanted to write from. It is our rule that you may use a prompt or not. Let it inspire you. Or not. I took the one that was left:
They waited as the coal train meandered sleepily through the crossing.
mallow locking watermelon wistful
Thank you, dear friends. You are AMAZING!