All Hallow's Eve
by Flora Hausammann
This train station was odd, somehow. It was nestled in the middle of nowhere, fields of wheat spreading out on the side opposite the only platform. There was a round roof to the platform, overgrown with ivy and rust from the rains that had washed over it for decades. It was slowly and steadily decaying, illuminated in the half-dark on a cold autumn’s day by the garish neon-light.
It was almost obscene to think of people using the station for what it was built to be; to board trains and to move somewhere else from this place. The dreamlike quality of the scene suggested that there were never, could never be, any trains arriving, and certainly less so, living, breathing people. But there was.
One small boy.
He was standing at the far end of the platform, immobile. His eyes were fixed on the train tracks. Maybe he thought that if he willed the train into existence hard enough, he would soon hear a whistle blowing in the distance and the heavy clang of wheels on the tracks. But the silence remained perfectly untouched, only the rain was making itself heard in a way that only rain can do, a silent trickle more seen than heard.
The boy now craned his neck, daring to expose his head from the shelter of the platform roof. Drops of rain ran along the ridge of his nose, his temples and chin. But it was of no avail; no train was coming.
The people of the town which the station belonged to would have said they know the boy. A mother might have thought that he has been in school with her son, a baker might have thought he was one of the small faces that came in every afternoon begging for a piece of left-over cake on their way home, a firewoman might have though his face was one that she’d carried out of a raging fire.
But he was none of that. They knew him because he was visiting them in their dreams sometimes, touching their bruises with cool hands, his voice soothing.
They knew him because he was visiting them in their darkest hours and sometimes lent a hand.
They knew him by his absence in joy, and his necessity in grief.
They knew him because he was there in the flesh once every year, on All Hallows’ Eve, walking the streets, past the shops and out towards the station, trying to find the train that would finally carry him away from this place.