The Train to Snowy
By Abraham Weitzman (Sixth Grade)
In the early hours it was dim and soft. The wheels rattled rhythmically along the creaky rails of the Pacific line. It was an antique compared to the other trains and that is why Tom chose it as his mode of transportation for this trip. Tom was only in his mid 20s but his ideals would have been more suited to a man decades his senior. He disliked most modern technology and yearned for the times when banking was done in person and he couldn’t always be reached via cellphone. That wasn’t going to matter on this trip as he had closed up the antique shop and shut off his phone. Tom understood his trip would take him perturbingly far from his present, but Snowy drew him in. He had a job to do.
Tom was in a deep sleep when it happened. The nice rumbling turned into a savage screech and Tom was thrown from his bed. As Tom awoke he couldn’t believe his eyes. His window was shattered and then he heard people screaming in the hall. He raced out of his compartment but before he got ten feet from his door he was propelled down the hall and crashed through the door of the dining room. It was a massacre. There were bodies everywhere and the train cars were no longer on tracks, they were strewn about the stretch of forest they had been traveling through. Thrown from the train, Tom was unconscious, lying in a pile of glass.
Tom had a fairly normal childhood, he grew up in an area of California that is now referred to as Silicon Valley. His parents had both gone to college on the east coast at MIT, but moved west after graduation to be a part of the pc craze. They were both engineers working at a new tech company, which meant that his house was always filled with computer parts and other gadgets that seemed like they came off the Starship Enterprise. Yet no matter how much his parents encouraged him, his interests always lay somewhere else.
Tom’s Uncle Frank may have been his favorite person in the world. He always thought that his uncle was the only one in the world who truly understood him. Uncle Frank was an old thymologist who said he couldn’t stand people. What he meant was he hated modern society. He was a funny, gregarious man who told Tom to hear his heart’s hopes. He was the next of kin on Tom’s emergency contact form and he died five years ago.
Receding into sleep, Tom couldn’t take his mind off his need to escape an anonymous grave. This worried him, unsuffering, dripping blood, slowly peering at his body ebbing its way into stillness.
Tom woke in the hospital, relieved. He kept wiggling his fingers and toes afraid that if he continued laying there still he would never get up. The nurse in the corridor saw him smile and she waved. He knew he needed to work on his fake smile if he was going to convince everyone he was ok. In no time he was up drinking apple juice. He had no serious injuries. They wanted to make sure he didn’t have a concussion. He could leave in the morning. Tom asked for his wallet and they asked his name. In the crash, effects were sent flying and items recovered were sorted by tables in the police station. Too bad he had no identification in his wallet. Tom would need to claim it in person.
Tom protected himself from the temptations of modern life. No driver’s license and no credit cards. The shop was cash only. His wallet was packed with Ben Franklins, thankfully still there, and photographs of Tom’s family. Quickly, he collected what little there was and left the police station. Having a schedule to tend, Tom hired a taxi to the next stop on the line.
The train unnerved Tom because of the crash but he soon settled in. Recent injuries flared up once he mentally relaxed. Wishing he’d taken the pain killers the nurses suggested, Tom ambled to the bar car. Three gin and tonics later he was numb and asleep in a chair. The bartender let him rest until closing, then helped him to his compartment for the night.
Having a restful night left Tom well prepared for the day’s processes. He had not anticipated being thrown from a train or losing his notebook. He spent his day writing everything he could remember about Snowy: the kiss from Winnella, the pterodactyl themed bar, the garden filled with sweet alyssum, the train station with chandeliers. They all filled Tom with trepidation. He wrote hoping to demonize it but he willingly failed. Snowy had everything Tom’s heart hoped for.
The train turned north and the landscape slowly sloped away out Tom’s window. Conifers replaced the thinning deciduous woods. Rock ledges traced the mountains in the distance. Over the tall treessnowcapped peaks grew. Tom slept while the train crossed bridged valleys and slipped through tunnels. He woke to the spring morning sun in Snowy.
The station had light streaming in and refracted wherever Tom looked. It was reminiscent of new fallen snow before the footprints of people scarred it. Trying not to be dazzled, Tom curved toward the doors and onto the street. It was just as he remembered – spectacular.
Tom walked to the hotel. Snowy only had one. It had twenty rooms and only two were ever filled. Tom requested the third floor Krystal suite, the best room in the house. He turned the key and stepped through the portal to Winnella’s world. Next to his bed was a telephone with a dial on its own stand. The bathroom had a claw foot tub and a sink carved into a turtle shell. The hot water was plentiful and Tom had not bathed in days. He got in smelling as bad as those days after Little League doubleheaders and soaked for more than an hour. When he’d scrubbed the grime from the parts that needed it, and massaged the muscles, which needed it more, Tom dressed in clothes he’d left on his last visit. He left his room like he found it, taking his dirty clothes with him and tossing them in the trash.
Snowy was terrific, terrifying Tom as it tantalized him towards the town center. He made his way toward their restaurant hoping that she would be sitting at that table in the corner, like the first and last time they were together. Tom flashed back to two years ago, seeing the most beautiful woman he had ever encountered. He recalled being more nervous than he had ever been in his life. When he finally got up the courage to go up to the bar to say hi he froze up. She was even more stunning up close, auburn hair and eyes as blue as the Pacific.
This is the part where you say hello and ask me my name.
That made Tom calm down, and the rest of the night was magical; they talked and danced all night. It was a night that made all others seem unimportant. Going to sleep, with wonder, Tom dreamt of ice princesses.
Quietly dawn awoke Tom. Tomorrow had arrived with the outline of his plans in place. He dressed in the clothes he’d left on his last trip. He thought one last time of his good friends, the shop, the reality he abandoned when took the train to Snowy. Tom ironically had remembered a town with no past or future. He never expurgated the memories. He tried to nurture them while he passed the years. Tom experienced each initial approach as a first sight love. He anticipated and remembered each first kiss. He knew they were coming but he was always surprised and thrilled. No one compared with Winnella. But Tom wanted more.
Snowy deprived everyone who lived there of a past and a future in exchange for a present utopia. Tom’s uncle was one of the precious few who left Snowy. He decided that being stuck in an infinite loop no matter how amazing was something he couldn’t do for his whole life. Tom wanted to marry Winnella, but instead they danced all night. He couldn’t use her shoulder as a pillow, but she kissed him. They couldn’t disagree, but he wanted to go beyond her first date flirtation. He couldn’t forget her and she couldn’t remember him. Tom needed to get Winnella to freedom.
Tom doggedly trailed Winnella all afternoon, waiting to talk during a romantic, “chance” encounter. She always turned away. He waited for her outside her house, but she reflected his affect and pretended seeing past. He stood next to her in the bar, near enough to overhear her thoughts, and distinguished nothing. Tom began to panic. The emotions of the whole trip swelled to a boiling point, hit Tom and he was overwhelmed by the feeling that this whole trip was pointless. Tom began rambling at an inaudible level, ” I can’t believe after a hundred magical nights… ” He turned away and heard Winnella speak:
“This is the part where you say hello and ask me my name. “
Tom had no defense when he heard his cue. He was completely without control reciting his lines and dancing and feeling the excitement of their first kiss. He was falling in love. He had never imagined such joy. Winnella was the perfect woman for him and he knew how the night would end.
Tom asked, “Marry me? “
Winnella, if surprised, didn’t show it. She began quietly gathering her garments to go. “I can’t. In Snowy I am free but I cannot leave. I am not greedy, expecting you to stay.”
Tom asked again, “Marry me?” Tom pretended no pent up fear welled in him, fear of being in a battle with Winnella. She needed to want to leave. He had tried staying, sometimes for weeks, living the same, although perfect, day. He asked again, knowing the answer, needing her answer, freedom for them both, free to go home.
Tom boarded the train. He waited for her. To see her auburn hair against the glittering train station would have broached the possibility. Having no offer, Tom was free of Snowy’s hold. He pondered his future, thinking of the possibilities. Could he ever come back, could he continue this cycle of ecstasy and agony? As the blare of the horn sounded – his exit – Tom came to the realization that this had to end. There could never be another train to Snowy.