Wendy sat on a railroad track her heart was all aflutter, around the bend came the Number 10, choo-choo Wendy-butter. Wendy sits on the curb outside her house. Her knees pulled up to her chest and her face hidden behind a veil of hair the color of butter. She is chanting softly under her breath. Every time she reaches the end of the verse she starts again.

It is her mantra. What she does to calm herself. She’s been doing it since Evan died. Three years ago right in front of where she was sitting, her eight year old brother was struck by a drunk driver while he was riding his new birthday bike. He died three days later. That’s the day she lost her mom, too. At least her old mom. Her new mom cries all the time and her breath smells funny, like medicine but not cherry medicine. She smells like sadness.

Her parents told her last night that her mother was leaving today. That she needs to go somewhere and get better and not be so sad anymore. It made Wendy sad that she wasn’t good enough to make her mother happy after Evan died. She tries not to have nightmares but she can’t help it. Some nights when she closes her eyes she sees the accident again.

She heard her parents come out to the car. She listened as they got in, started the car, and drove out of the driveway. She didn’t look up as they drove away that way she could pretend that they waved goodbye. She knew she should go inside to see Tammy, the babysitter, but she’d rather be out here by herself. Wendy sat on a railroad track her heart was all aflutter… she started chanting again. All the while wondering if anyone would remember that today was her eleventh birthday. 

…around the bend came the Number 10, choo-choo, Wendy-butter…

The old man

A man sits on a weathered green bench. He is not quite an old man but he is close. His clothes fit poorly, purchased when he was thinner. The checkered pattern on his shirt distorts as he settles into his seat. He stares straight ahead but his eyes look toward the past. He sees a woman with skin like caramel, her dark hair pulled into a tight bun. She is wearing a white dress with small red polka dots and she is smiling. One hand is out-stretched; his left hand twitches wanting to reach into the past and grasp her hand offered so freely. Her other hand rests gently on her stomach, a smile lights her face.

He sighs. Shaking the memories from his mind, he struggles to his feet and boards the bus home. Alone.