Kate Krautkramer

The Train

It’s March and something’s wrong with the baby, Jilly’s baby. The little girl isn’t going to survive, the doctors say, but they don’t say how long things will go on, either. Lucy turns it over in her mind and sips the last of her Sanka while the train comes up from the north. She hears the blows–long, long then short, short, short at every driveway and county road crossing. The first whistle she can hear is at DiNapolis’, then four more sets before the lead engine reaches their place. It only takes a couple of minutes when the train’s coming from the south and empty–whole nother, long slow story when it’s coming uphill and full of coal.

Lucy gets up from her coffee, opens the front door then the storm door, loose on its hinges, and steps out onto the front deck without a jacket. She puts her arms around herself. Even though it’s not very cold today, it is still winter. There’s plenty of snow left, and likely plenty still to come before real spring sets in about mid-May. That’s normal for around these parts, but in the whole country things haven’t been too normal. In January it snowed in Miami. After that there was a blizzard to beat all in Buffalo, only people with Ski-Doos could get around. She and Harvey learned it all from Walter Cronkite; there were pictures on the Evening News of people digging tunnels to get to their front doors.

On the deck, Lucy has to close her eyes things are so bright, and getting brighter all the time. Daylight savings will come in a month and screw things all up anyway. Whoever got the notion to mess with the hours of sun God gave, she doesn’t know about that