To Gather Up

Picture by David Sky

Picture by David Sky

470 words total
Flesch Reading Ease Score: 96.2
Flesch-Kincaid Grade level: 3.2
Words contained in the GSL: 96.63%

I live in Lone Temple, a small town surrounded by a ring of mountains.  I am the town’s station master.  Not that it’s much of a train station.  Just two tracks, one platform, and two freshly painted benches.  I paint the benches myself twice every year.  This year in the fall I painted them sunrise orange.  Last week, I painted them tear drop blue.  Sometimes someone will notice and say something nice about the color, and that makes me feel pretty good.

During a Lone Temple winter, there is snow and more snow.  Every year the neighborhood children build a snowman in front of the station.  Each year there are less and less children, but they manage to get the job done.  This January they built a real giant of a snowman.  It took them all day and it was already dark when they finished and ran home.  It was a cold evening and there was a touch of salt in the wind. Suddenly, I felt sorry for the snowman.  He was out there, left behind, and probably already forgotten.  So I dug through the Lost and Found box and pulled out a bright red knit cap.  I had to stand on a step ladder to put the hat on the snowman’s head.  The snowman had a strange half smile made out of grey rocks.  I thought he looked a little more comfortable with the hat on.

There is always something to do at a train station.  There’s always a floor to sweep, a weed to pull, a sign to straighten.  But there is also nothing that must absolutely be done right now at a station.  And this is also good.  I can make a cup of coffee and watch the steam curl up towards the ceiling.  I can set a small plate of smoked fish down behind the worn row of lockers and wait to see which cat comes to eat it first. In this way time passes.

It was a long winter and the snowman didn’t really start melting until the beginning of April.  He got a little smaller every day and by May first, he was gone.  I went out, picked up the bright red hat from the ground, and started to put it back in the lost and found box.  I looked at the long pair of soft leather gloves, the folding umbrella with the bent handle, the pack of faded playing cards, the loose collection of keys and broken watches and I changed my mind. I put the hat in the bottom drawer of my desk instead.  It wasn’t a lost thing anymore.  At least, not for a little while longer.  Not as long as there were still enough children to gather up the snow that was sure to fall in the winter.


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