Stepping into the Past

“Are we really going to go to the boneyard?” Michael asked, walking along the path in the city park. 

“Yeah, it sounds like a fun adventure. My grandpa used to take me when I was little.” Amy said, keeping pace with him as they walked. 

“But aren’t those old trains dangerous?” 

“Not if you’re careful. They don’t work anymore, most of them are so rusted the wouldn’t move with help.” She said, the thought of going back and walking through the trains she had visited so many years before with her grandfather calling like a siren song. She just knew there was something there she needed to see.

Michael sighed, resigned. “Fine, then let’s get going. I have other things I want to do after this,” he said, picking up his pace as they crossed the last corner and began the long walk down the road to the boneyard. 

Amy followed suit and sped up as they stepped off the paved road onto the gravel. “I know you don’t want to come with me. But what I don’t understand is why. You love history. What better way to see the history of our country than to walk through the bones of our railroads?” She asked.

He shivered. “Yes, I love history. I love reading about it. Being in those places gives me the creeps,” he said.

Amy stopped. “Why? There’s nothing there but old machines.” 

Michael kept walking as he spoke. “I can’t explain it. They just give me the creeps.” He turned back to glance at her over his shoulder. “Come on.”

She resumed walking and the two of them walked the remaining half mile in silence. As they got close to the gate, she could see the tops of the closer trains over the wooden fence line. The mental hum was getting louder the closer she got to the gate. Amy had told no one about the siren call of the boneyard. The only person who ever knew about it was her grandfather, who had shared the call. 

Michael’s voice broke into her thoughts. “So, how are we going to get in? Climb the fence or break the lock?” He asked.

She smiled, pulling out a keyring from her pocket. “We unlock it,” she said.

He shook his head and waited as she unlocked the paddle lock and pulled on the chain. A moment later, they were inside the wall of the fence and she was closing the gate behind them. “How do you have a key for the railroad bone yard?”

She wrapped the chain around the opening of the gate and affixed the lock back to it. “My grandfather used to work for the railroad. He was a conductor for over thirty years. One of the last jobs he had was minding the boneyard,” she said.

They walked through the rows of the engines and cars as she searched for what was calling to her. She wasn’t sure what was calling her, but she knew there was a specific train she needed to see today. Up and down they walked, stopping once in a while to look at the car being taken over by the weeds and grasses. Near the end of one row, she noticed an old steam engine. The sound in her head faded to silence. She stepped closer and put her hand out, touching the metal of the train car. “This one,” she said.

Michael stepped up beside her. “What about it? It’s an old steam engine,” he said.

She traced the lines, avoiding any of the sharper pieces of metal. “It’s the engine that used to run what became the Sunset Limited line through Amtrak,” she said. “Ran for over thirty years without a single accident.” 

“How do you know all of that?” He asked.

She moved to the end of the car, where there was a ladder. “Because, it tells me. They all have a story. When I come I get to listen to those stories.” She climbed the ladder and stepped inside the conductor’s compartment. Looking out the broken window at the front, she watched as the world faded. When things came back to light, she was looking out through a new engine’s window. She stepped back into the corner as a man stepped into the engine with her. He didn’t say anything or even acknowledge that she was there. She nodded to herself. This time, she was getting to experience something new. Her heart raced as she watched the events of the trip unfolded. The train rumbled along as the man controlled the machine with an ease that could only come from years of training. 

In time, the scene faded again, returning her to the boneyard. Michael was standing on the ground as she climbed back down. His voice shook as he spoke. “What just happened?”

“I took a step into the past. It’s what happens when I come here. Looks like you can come with me next time,” she said. 

Michael shook his head. “Nope. Living through the past, I don’t think so. Can we go now?” He said.

She nodded. “Yep, all is quiet now.” She lead him out of the boneyard and down the road to where the blacktop started. At the corner, they separated. Michael going home and Amy headed to the cemetery to tell her grandfather what she had seen. It was how she handled the power he had given her.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: